At their own request we visited restaurant Hobo’s in Waregem for lunch. They claim to be French and Japanese cuisine, as well as gin&tonic experts.
Located just off the highway they are at a good location for business dinners/lunches and I guess thats the main aim since they’re closed in the weekend making enjoying nice gin&tonics and a romantic dinner with your partner impossible. The outside of the building doesn’t look much like a restaurant and inside its quiet spacious, tables far apart, nice terrace but no Japanese decor at all. Actually for a restaurant serving such an eclectic mixture of things on the menu I don’t understand why it looks like the inside of an old persons home, complete with old closets and wallpaper that I’m sure was chosen by somebody’s grandma. Also the only people sitting there at 13.30 in the afternoon looked like local retired people. This restaurant got me so confused that I will simply divide this review into three parts and hopefully you will be less confused than we were. Lets start with the good part.
Part 1: The good.
I chose the Hobos menu (49,50EUR) with wine supplement 16,50EUR. First we both ordered gin&tonics at 15EUR each, they came very quickly and were presented nicely, more on that later. My starter was flemish asparagus. Basically white asparagus with a butter sauce and a scrambled egg on top. It was nice, well cooked although a little bit under seasoned. My main dish was baked sea bass with an olive oil puree, cherry tomatoes and lemon rosemary sauce, it was very, very good. I find most Belgian restaurants under-season their fish dishes and as a result everything is very bland, but here it was seasoned very well. My dessert was also delicious. White chocolate parfait with sponge cake and a chocolate crumble.
Part 2: The not-so-good.
Back to the gin&tonic. Although like I said, it was presented nicely there was really almost no gin in that huge glass. It was like ridiculously little. I’m not paying you 15EUR per glass to choke on some flowers and leaves and get a lemongrass stick in my eye, I’m paying for the GIN!
Mr. Eggplant took the Ojisan menu (49EUR) with Japanese wine (17EUR). His starter consisted of sushi, sashimi and yakitori. He said the yakitori was good, the sushi was ok but he got store-bought wasabi paste that didn’t taste like the real thing he had in Japan and he got those one-use only chopsticks that you get in cheap Chinese restaurants. The food was coming out crazy fast, we had a three course lunch with wine and coffee in a little over 1 hour. Great if you’re on business and in a hurry, not so great when you’re trying to have a nice time at a restaurant and every sentence you begin you get interrupted by the servers.
Part 3: The bad.
Mr. Eggplant’s main dish was tempura. First of all to make the whole chopstick matter worse, they took away his one-use chopsticks after his starter so he could continue the rest of his Japanese experience with a fork. Also no chopstick holder! Damn, if you’re gonna serve Japanese food research their customs first. There is not one Japanese person working at that restaurant so I would like to know who got that crazy idea to mix traditional Belgian classics with Japanese! Why? Whats the point? Its just crazy, you’re sitting there drinking very modern looking gin&tonics eating very classical Belgian cuisine and your partner is eating Japanese food with chopsticks in front of you inside an old persons home. Damn.
The tempura was presented as a deep fried mess, no finesse or nice presentation. The Japanese food culture is recognised by UNESCO for it’s taste AND presentation. Hobo’s only delivers on taste. If you’re gonna do asian at least invest in some nice chopsticks to make it look like you give a damn. Ironically, on their Facebook page they uploaded a picture of the tempura which has a much better presentation and even a chopstick holder. They set two bottles of wine (red and white, both full but already opened) at our table but no one ordered a meat dish so I wonder why the red one was there, also Mr.Eggplants “Japanese wine” was the exact same wine from the same bottle that I had which wasn’t even good and on our bill he was charged 0,50cents extra for “Japanese wine”. Are you kidding me??? My wine glass was chipped at the bottom and the wine holder had burn marks on it. Background music was radio hits or something. Oh jeez nothing fits with anything over there. Such a missed opportunity...
To sum things up I really think they should be focusing on what they already can do very well, and thats Belgian food! It was tasty, fresh and good value for money. Why ruin it by doing something you’re not good at and serving someone bad Japanese food for the same price that the other person is eating very nice food for? Just get rid of it, theres nothing Japanese in the concept of this restaurant, don’t try to be something you’re not. And put more gin in the gin&tonic, maybe we wouldn’t mind the wallpaper so much if we had enough to drink.
Two gin & tonic: 30 EUR
One Japanese menu: 49 EUR
One Hobo menu: 49,50 EUR
Hobo suggested wine: 16,50 EUR
The Same wine for the Japanese menu: 17 EUR
Bottle of water: 4,50 EUR
Some coffee: 5,60 EUR
Dazed and ConfusedBook your table!
8790 Waregem (Belgium)
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