Friday, June 04, 2010
Last dinner at World Expo! We realised that while we had plenty of exposure to the usual German, Spanish and Italian restaurants, you could hardly see one specialising in Belgian cuisine. In fact, I don't think I even had a proper Belgian meal before!
Housed on the second level of the Belgium Pavilion, you have to climb up a colour-changing tunnel before reaching Essence, which its casual decor reminded me of Irish pubs. The six of us went ala carte, sharing a variety of starters and main courses.
Starters - Liege Salad (RMB 52), Baked Endives Wrapped in Ham (RMB 52), Cheese Croquettes (RMB 68)
Salad was simple but tasty, with the addition of sliced hard boiled eggs, crispy bacon bits and croutons. Endives is a kind of leafy vegetable which had a texture similar to leek, flavourfully wrapped with salted ham and served with cheese sauce. Croquettes was actually more potato than cheese, would be better if its content was the melted liquid type.
Poached Trout (RMB 98), Stewed Chicken Casserole (RMB 78)
The trout wasn't really to our liking as it was tough and had a fishy taste to it, barely masked by its herb sauce. Chicken, on the other hand, surprised us with its tender and well-marinated meat chunks. Interestingly, they arrived in large metal pots which added on to the anything-goes theme!
Stewed Beef in Beer (RMB 98), BonBon (RMB 188)
While lean beef chunks was used, they were still pleasently tender and doesn't leave dried shreds between your teeth. The last one was their signature dish, veal and foie gras wrapped in a layer of flaky pastry. Locking in natural juices, the veal meat was further enhanced by the sinful duck liver. Signature indeed!
Belgian Fries (RMB 28) and Beers
And in true pub fashion, we ordered some fries (served in a cute frying basket) to go with beer! In thick cuts and lightly salted, we washed it all down with Hoegaarden Premium and fruit-flavoured beer (Forgot the brand)!
Belgian Waffle (RMB20)
While we didn't had desserts in the restaurant, I couldn't resist the smell of freshly-made waffles at the takeaway counters outside the pavilion! Phoebe would probably be a waffle expert by now and could tell if this was authentic enough, but it definitely passed for me with its crispy, lightly sweetened surface and fluffy, buttery dough. Filled the remaining gap in stomach!
While I couldn't make any comparison, I felt that Belgian food at Essence was simple, homely and humble, the kind that I could imagine Belgian families cooking for everyday meals. A satisfying way to round up the World Expo meals!
Belgium Pavilion, World Expo
Note: Enter via the centre entrance for restaurant access, the tunneling stairway would even lead you straight into the exhibition area after your meal!
Taken with Nikon D70