A special ambiance that required a few months of renovation which is completely at odds with the style of “La table de Nédonchel”, the previous establishment. “I studied evening cooking when I was 21. I worked in several restaurants before starting my own business in 2014 at the same place. The menu was small, three starters and five dishes changed every month. For personal reasons, I no longer see myself doing it on my own. So I suggested to Homi, a Thai friend of my childhood friend, that we join forces” Ann-Laurie Bullitt, restorer, explains.
Pierre-Henri Vanderburgt, the friend in question continues: “When Anne-Laure decided to change the concept, the question was whether or not the kitchen would retain the French side. But there was a place to be taken: there were no other Thai people around.” .
Thank you word of mouth and it’s good!
Even within a stone’s throw from the Grand-Place, the team couldn’t count on the lack of spectators in front of their building to introduce themselves. Soon word of mouth came into effect.
On June 9, small plates were placed in large plates for the official opening. Huge success because the bookings follow each other, but unfortunately the walls are not expandable. “At first, I wasn’t in the restaurant business at all. I offered to help out on the big days, but it’s always full of lunch and dinner. It’s motivating and at the same time tiring. We have to organize ourselves, because Homie is alone behind the stove.” says Pierre-Henri Vanderburgt.
This one adds modestly: “I was immediately confident, because I’ve already eaten in Thai restaurants and always found it wasn’t as good as what a chef could make” .
Ann Laurie Bullitt: “What also delights is that the produce is fresh and everything is homemade. People like this a small restaurant. We have a direct connection. The little balcony has its charm too” .
L’Éléphant Blanc offers some takeaway, but you need to call ahead. “People come to get food before room service. It may happen that we have to say no depending on the work the chef is doing. We prefer first the reception in the restaurant” .
The fridge is full on Monday
Local produce makes a place for itself on the plate. A little extra way to find 100% Thai ingredients.
Monday does not mean a day off for the Three Musketeers (can we call them?).
After a week of service, the refrigerators were empty. You have to do the shopping. “We order in the area for everything related to meat and fish. For example, Gray Pheasant in Dottignies, Dujardin’s butcher shop in Pecq or Six Fumaison fishmongers shop in Mouscron. Basic vegetables are purchased from Stockman” .
The main supplier is located in Jette, Brussels: Thaï Foodstuffs. “It’s really typical Thai with all the necessary products. I can speak my mother tongue. It’s easier with the manager. She knows very quickly what I’m looking for, unlike the Chinese supplier” Homi says.
Pierre-Henri Vanderbogt: “We buy vegetables like Thai eggplant even if they are a little more expensive. Some Thai restaurants save money on this type of product, but we know we don’t throw out anything. The difficulty is also finding Thai spices like green curry. What we do is that when We find a particular component, we make suggestions to customers within a short period of time” .
Phad Thai stands out with customers
Being a good Thai cook, that’s the key. Fried rice noodles with chicken or scampi, and the chef is the one who delights.
Homi chose to prepare the traditional dish of his country: Phad Thai based on rice noodles. “All restaurants cook it, even on the street” .
In his work plan, all the components were laid out. The top three: bean sprouts, chives (Thai of course), and candied kale. Over high heat in a skillet, red onions, turnips, noodles, Phad Thaï sauce (a mixture of fish sauce, tamarind and chili with palm sugar), eggs and fish previously fried in oil are combined in turn and quickly! “You have to go fast so it doesn’t ripen and dry up” .
Once on the plate, homie adds lime, chives, carrots, and crushed peanuts. “Tamarind sauce is important. Without it, you wouldn’t be Vad Thai” .
The chef acknowledges that this is the recipe he prefers to cook and it is also the dish that stands out to customers. “Vegetables, fried cashew nuts, and shrimp dumplings also work well.” .
Admiring chili is just a matter of habit
Thai cuisine is rich in culinary influences. “The most famous are those in central Thailand with red and green curries. But if you go up north, it looks a little like Chinese cuisine, in the east Vietnamese, and in the south more Muslim. There is a lot of pepper in the east, where do I come from” .
If the dishes are explosive in the mouth, Homie is careful that visitors do not come out of the establishment and shoot. “You don’t have to particularly like spices when you come here, but it’s true that it’s part of the culture. It’s just a matter of habit” , confirms Pierre-Henri Vanderburgt. The cook also admits that he studies new recipes.
Open from Tuesday to Saturday from 12 pm to 2 pm and from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm Reservations are recommended. 069 / 66.36.65. On vacation from July 24 to August 8.