Last night we went to a complete stranger’s house for dinner. We’d found them via the recently launched home dining portal bookalokal, which matches up diners in search of new experiences with cooks willing to welcome people into their homes and prepare a meal for them. As you can see from the site the choice is very wide, and we decided to go for Malaysian, as it’s not something you find much of in Brussels. In fact, according to our host, there’s one Malaysian restaurant in Antwerp, but it’s not as good as his wife’s cooking.
We arrived with another couple of friends at the address in Tervuren, just east of Brussels, and were warmly welcomed by Nur and her husband and two children. While their four year old son scampered around and their ten year old daughter served us water we chatted and got to know each other. Nur has been cooking since the age of nine, when she had to cater for the whole family while her mother was out at work, and it’s obvious she’s been honing her skills ever since.
Our starter was a selection comprising satay, Otak otak (the leaf at the top of the plate which contains a kind of spicy fish cake) and the item on the right whose name I’ve forgotten but which was a tasty blend of marinated meat, egg and tofu.
Here are our hosts, presenting us the main course.
Our dining companions seemed happy with it.
Our main dish was tomato rice, chicken with a spicy tomato sauce and a cucumber and pineapple salad.
Finally the dessert which was a beautifully sweet combination of bananas, coconut milk and tapioca pearls. Our American friend Ashley said that it reminded her of Bananas Foster from back home. Here’s a recipe which sounds kind of similar.
Afterwards we talked a lot more, comparing expat experiences and lifestyle differences between Europe and Asia, food, schools, work, you name it. It was a very relaxed yet stimulating conversation. Plus the fact that we were discovering new food in someone’s home and could talk to them about it and the culture from which it comes meant that we got a much more rounded experience than if we’d just gone to a Malaysian restaurant. If we’d been able to find one…
I’d recommend you try bookalokal if you’re in the Brussels area. We certainly plan to do more of these, and would be happy to go back for another Malaysian feast some time.