The oldest Chinese restaurant in Antwerp is coincidentally located in an neighborhood where you can find one of the oldest professions in the world. Wahkel is situated in the city’s red light district, between the city center and the upcoming harbor area. And when I say old, I mean ‘since 1923’. Every time I go there, it feels as if I’m stepping back into time.
Wahkel, pronounced as/wha – kiw/, has a specific meaning. Individuals who permanently migrate abroad from China call themselves ‘wah kel’. This can be literally interpreted as ‘Chinese emigrants’. What’s in a name, right?
The interior is pink-infused, ornamented with “tacky” Chinese lanterns and fake flowers and the menu is stacked away underneath a glass cover on the table. Not for covid19, no – that’s how they did it years and years ago. Every table even has its own doorbell to order food. Now that’s nostalgia right?! I rang it once just to see if it still worked (and it did). But honestly, the staff does not need a doorbell as they are always friendly and hands on.
The menu is very elaborate and the style of food they serve is best described as classic Chinese food with a Belgian twist. A little bit adapted to what Belgians like (a lot of curry sauce for example) but tasty and delicious nonetheless. My favorite? The pan-fried shrimps in butter sauce (73H on the menu). So good!