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De Lange Muur (Brugge, Belgium)
Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Winter Volume: 2005 Issue: 12(4) page: 12
This Chinese eatery is the most centrally located of the so-called 'big three' Chinese restaurants. It is nearest to the main square in this city of Brugge. It is also the largest of this city’s Chinese restaurants, and it seats more that two hundred people. That and its location may be why Japanese tourist groups and others make meal reservations here. Another reason can be its looks. It is vintage Chinese. There are huge goldfish tanks within, hanging red lanterns outside.
Like other Belgian restaurants, many menu choices come with tastes of Indonesia. Here these menus are called 'Imperial.' The meals served to groups that we observed looked mass produced with mass appeal. One Japanese group of about fifty, when we were there, left over enough to feed lots of others. The kitchen staff may have indulged and we wonder if they enjoyed.
The carte of offerings has Menu A and Menu B selections, and manager Cheng Chew did try to help us order. We wanted a casserole dish or two, here called 'Sauce-pan' dishes. There were quite a few of these sizzling platters and many more Cantonese dishes on their menu. He suggested the more french-fry/mayo offerings, perhaps because they were the least expensive or because we seemed not able to decide what to order. These type of dishes may be what many Westerners want, but they are an affront to those who know good Chinese food.
Saucepan Langemuur tickled our fancy. It says it comes with king prawns, beef, chicken, and vegetables. When it arrives, there is lettuce, bean sprouts, button mushrooms, and a few carrots for decor. The chicken is a-swimming and delicious. The shrimp match the flavor in its sauce, less than large. They are no match and minuscule compared to those served to a neighboring Japanese tourist group.
The Frogs Legs with Paprika and Black Bean Sauce come on a sizzling platter with many pieces of red pepper and very few black beans. Furthermore, they started out frozen and ended up mighty cold even though the platter sizzled for some minutes. We almost sent them back, but not a single staff member was there when we needed them.
At the next table, the Pork in Curry Sauce looks bright orange. We admire the color and comment on its wonderful aroma. The girls who ordered it are from the Phillippines and the Seychelles Islands. They seem to enjoy it, and they offer us some. Now living in Brugge, they say the food here in this restaurant is the closest in taste to their home Chinese food. We suggest the two Chinese eateries also reviewed in this issue. Though in this city almost a year, they know them not but promise to try them.
Their and our tea needs help. It is green and tasteless. It is also not hot enough, so lucky with someone nearby now, we send it back. Did that twice actually, each time getting the contents warmer, but never hot. On the last return to the table, its temperature met that of a favorite local cookie, called Rombouts, that it was served with.
De Lange Muur has the best location, the best huge bar, a huge menu, and an owner who only agreed to meet with us after learning about the magazine we represented. Through an interpreter, the only reason we could assess she has for having this Chinese restaurant is economic. On that score, it seems successful.