I used to be satisfied with the mussels from Brussel Sprouts back in Singapore but how my eyes have been opened in Belgium at Le Zinneke, one of the most highly rated mussels specialists in Brussels.
The restaurant is a bit further out from the city centre with no nearby subway stops but a tram line does run just outside the restaurant. The restaurant is really cosy, with most of the clientele made up of locals, already a good sign.
I opted for the 3-course set menu that goes for 36.50€, where diners can choose a starter, 1kg of mussels in any sauce and a dessert from the ala carte menu. Personally I thought this was a great deal given that the cost of the sum of parts was significantly in excess of the set menu price.
I have been spamming myself with everything authentically Belgian and that includes the shrimp croquettes. Of the numerous ones I have tried this trip, the Homemade Grey Shrimp Croquettes (14.95€/ala carte price) here made the most lasting impression, cheesy without being overly heavy.
The Madagascar Shrimps Red Devil Spicy (18.75€/ala carte price) had a surprising Asian feel to it, especially since there was sufficient spice for our liking. My American Indian friend whom I was dining with wiped the plate clean, subsequently apologizing that he didn’t leave more sauce for me. Do you remember the last time someone apologized for taking all the sauce? Well I don’t. It was that good…
For the mains, we had 1kg of mussels each, done in two different styles to diversify the risk. Honestly, I can’t remember which styles we got exactly, it’s difficult to given that there are 69 different styles available on the menu. I only remembered that we had one with onions, herbs in a cream base and one that had curry and ginger in a cream base and boy were they good, especially the curry and ginger variant.
The mussels were unexpectedly plump and tender, with a firmness somewhere closer to oyster. Limited chewing required and you can expect a burst of flavor juices on your first bite. I never understood why my friends would say mussels in Belgium is on a whole new level till this meal. Accompany the mussels was a side of fries, twice-cooked as how it is usually done in Belgium.
I was already ready to call it a night and end it off on a high note. I wasn’t expecting dessert to fare nearly as good as the appetizers and mains anyway but was proved wrong. The Tiramisu was awesome, slightly more dense than average, veering somewhere between a cheesecake and a regular tiramisu. I also liked the crumble that topped the dessert, tasted much like digestive biscuits that went really well with the cream cheese. I couldn’t help but finish it in its entirety.
I was less enchanted by the Chocolate Mousse, since I’m not a big fan of dark chocolate. That said, it was smooth and definitely above average in quality.
Ending off my trip to Belgium and Paris, I undoubtedly had my most memorable meal at Le Zinneke among the meals I had there. Definitely a worthwhile trip for both locals and tourists alike.
Place de la Patrie 26, 1030 Schaerbeek, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 245 03 22