Street Noodle in the Heart of the city of Leuven

Posted: October 23, 2010 in Friends, Leisure, Short Story

Leuven (or Louvain, in French) is the capital of the province of Flemish Brabant. Brussels, or, rather, east of Brussels is located some 26 km from Leuven. Imagine, that’s how many kilometres I have to drive from home to work every weekday. Well, 24 km or thereabout…. one way :-). I guess this distance is a repeated feat of what I had persevered while working in Sarawak, driving from Kuching to Damai, every 6-workday week.  Yes, Saturday was a half work day, but that did not mean that I had to drive halfway or consuming half the petrol!  Duh!!

I moved to Leuven in the autumn of 1995 (end October).  I would like to think that the move has always been a gallant one for me. And yes, I’m thinking positively here… 😉 A caring husband and two fantastic boys who never fail to let me exercise my lungs. LOL!  What more can I ask for?

Maybe just a little bit… more?

Hmmm….. let’s see. Okay, let me walk you through what the Oliver Twist in me was crying out for ….MORE !!!!

Street Noodle! That’s it!!

But where in heaven’s name can one find street noodles in Belgium?

Believe it or not, it’s just 240 metres (a bit more than half a lap around a running track) from St Peter’s Cathedral, Leuven.  Naming a church or a cathedral in Europe is synonymous to saying that you will never get lost in the city.  In early Europe, a church was usually built smack in the middle of a city.  And that’s where St Peter’s Cathedral now stands, in the heart of the city of Leuven.

By happy chance, my quest for street noodle is commonly shared with some good friends, who also happened to be my ex-colleagues . We planned a rendezvous recently in the first weekend of October, and typically, for ladies only. What I meant was, we girls just wanted to pamper ourselves, without being tagged along by our spouses and kids.  It was a day made by us and for us…. four girls!

Let’s plan a date and meet up for some street noodles“, my friend M hinted some one month before our target date.

Why not, eh?  We have done that before and keeping the tradition alive was the best forethought.

For one month, my palate was drooling enduringly for that bowl of street noodles….

Sunday, 3rd October. A BIG relief day.

Taking St Peter’s Cathedral as the onset of my quest, I walked southward direction for 12 metres, or, to the left of the church, I ended up on the Market Square where the magnificent Town Hall of Leuven stands. The Town Hall was built between 1448 and 1469 in the late Brabantine Gothic style. Beautiful, isn’t it?

Again walking southward for another 48 metres I ended up on a narrow street called Tiensestraat.   

I stayed on this street for the next 180 m until I found my pearl in the oyster. Welcome to Thai House Leuven! An odyssey of discovery…

The Thai House is a family-owned restaurant, comprises the father, the mother, the son and the daughter, assisted by two loyal restaurant attendants, some chefs and kitchen helpers.

I remembered Mr Sombat Tongboonrowd telling me the story of a civil servant who once worked at the Inland Revenue Department in Thailand. He came to Belgium with his family in the late 80’s as a diplomat. Mr Tongboonrowd told me that the civil servant had a dream – a dream to be his own boss, a dream that he had been dreaming for years on end to the point that he left his job at the Thai Embassy and made the kitchen his domain.  From fine dining to street noodles to buffets to snack bars. You name it, the civil servant had been there and had done those. His dream became a reality.

By the way (that is, if you’re still with me..) Mr Sombat Tongboonrowd was/ is the father and the civil servant in this story. The father became the CEO and still cooks and supervises in the kitchen.  Today, the father in this story not only owns the Thai House restaurant, but the Thai House Supermarket just behind the restaurant. Early last year, the father started his third project, the Taste of Asia Snack House.  This completed the Thai Triangle in the heart of the city of Leuven.

Leuven is proud to present the one and only Street Noodle concept in all of Belgium.

Let’s meet the CEO, chef, owner and former civil servant, Mr Sombat Tongboonrowd. Mind you, the guy was not just modeling for the camera person, standing behind his rickshaw street noodle bar.  He personally serves his legendary Thai House Street Noodle soup to his customers.

Mr Tongboonrowd serves his street noodles on Fridays and Sundays with buffets to boot.

And here you have the three ladies, D from the Philippines, M from Indonesia and G from Turkey, smiling for the camera person, et c’est moi 😉

My bowl of street noodle soup, closed-up.  Mmmmmm……yummy!  Noticed the white chunk on the right of the bowl?  Mr Sombat Tongboonrowd only gives this (daikon) to his ‘special’ customers 😉

Some of the foods plated up from the array of the buffet. They were just dreamy…

I am very sure we will be back there again.

Oh by the way, we ended our ladies’ day out with some coffee, ice cream and girls’ talk on the Market Square with our back facing the Town Hall.  I guess it was more the girls’ back and my front. LOL!

The three pretty lasses in a row – G, D and M.

I had a great time that day with good company, fantastic weather and scrumptious street noodles.  What MORE can I ask for?

I rest my case!

Ciao….see ya soon!

  1. Gerard says:

    Another good write-up, Dora. Fantastic pictures and yummy food. Wow! street noodle? compare that to our hawker stalls. 🙂 By the way, we can still get cha kwei tiau at RM2.50…real cheap isn’t it?

    Am still dreaming of going to Europe. Perhaps when I officially retire.

    Bro G.

  2. Nasifriet says:

    Hey bro!

    I’m waiting for the day you and Ah Soh come over, and you must! Unfortunately, Mr Tongboonrowd’s street noodle cum buffet was closed during the summer hols, hence, couldn’t bring mum and Da there.

    Of course nothing can compare with the hawker stalls we have back home. Miss the char kway tiaw, kolo mee and char kway…. darn cheap and so yummy!!!

    Stay well, bro and keep smiling 😛

  3. Sandy says:

    Wow! what gorgeous looking food. I love the thai salads. They’re pretty light and tasty. Another vote from me!


  4. Nasifriet says:

    Thanks, Sandy!

    You’re right. I love the warm-cold thai salads – yum woon sen (spicy glass noodle salad) with seafood, or the mango and young papaya salads. I guess the trick is the balance in the tastes: sweet (palm sugar), sour (lime juice), salty (fish sauce) and of course spicy (red hot thai chillis) and all the fresh herbs of coriander, thai basil etc. Mmmmm….super yummy and so light 🙂


  5. Angel says:

    YUM! Does this place open on Sundays? Shot in the dark, I know. But if they open tomorrow, I am SO driving to Leuven tomorrow! ;P

  6. Nasifriet says:

    Sorry, a bit late in replying. Yep, it’s opened on Sundays, from 12 noon till 3pm. Same timing on Fridays. They’re opened again from 5.30pm or 6pm for dinner (fine dining only, ie. a la carte).

    So, did you go? You should try it one of these days. Of course, it’s nothing compared to our hawker stalls back home, but it’s definitely yummy. He serves 2 or 3 types of noodles, incl char siew, minced chix and pork and chicken slices (all in the noodle soup). The sunday buffet has a wider choice of food than the Friday buffet, so suggest you go on Sunday…

    Let me know the outcome 😀

  7. Daisy says:

    Yep the noodle soup was very good(always), we had great time that afternoon, we laugh a lot and enjoyed the company of each other…Well done nasifriet for a nice blog you’ve got here, I learned from this blog especially about asian foods…hmnnnnn yummy…

  8. Nasifriet says:

    Hey Daisy,

    It’s nice reading you!!! You know, we should do this again, when our schedules permit 😀

    Yep, it was a great afternoon with you lots. I know we “learnt” alot from each other that day, too… with all the “brainstormings” and all the laughs. I’ve never exercised my facial muscles that much that day. Can’t wait for another session.

    See ya soon, my dear, and take care!

  9. X says:

    Yep! I’m all hyped up for this Sunday!

  10. Nasifriet says:

    Me too!! Let’s meet.. I’m dead serious!!!

  11. […] M is not just a friend. She was a former colleague. We both worked at Pfizer BE in the late 90’s. We now work in different companies and we still get to meet socially when we could with 2 other former colleagues for an all ladies’ day out. Check out this post Ladies’ Day Out. […]

Let me know your thoughts...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s