Op = Op, Obento in Antwerp
Living in the city center of Antwerp has quite some pro’s to it. During the weeks and months that pass by, it’s easy to notice the changes. A lot of places come and go, the popup culture makes the city sparkle even more and with more than 170 nationalities living together we are in one of the worlds most cultural diverse towns.
This blend of people and communities colors our streets with delicious dining bars. But when it comes to having lunch or small dinner, I get bored easily with the usual snack bars or the typical pizza places.
All of my food boredom changed a few months ago when I discovered my new secret favorite place. I kept it for myself for a few months but now I am ready to share it with everyone. The place is called Op = Op. It’s a Japanese take away place with delicious food and the nicest snack bar owners I have ever met. I am not only fond of their food, I love the whole story about how Op = Op found it’s way in lovely Antwerp.
Mari Ariga (Japan) and Philippe Auwerkerken (Belgium) were both mastering in Chinese at the university of Chengdu during 1998 - 1999. This wonderful couple didn’t only study there, they also found each other. After living in Japan for a while they decided to move to Belgium. And God bless them for making that decision! You’ll feel the same way once you have the chance to taste their food.
Now married and having a family, they still wanted to pursue the dream they always had: combining a restaurant where good healthy food is served and at the same time enjoying their time together as a family. Mari has been cooking professionally for a long time now and I’m telling you, you are up for a food orgasm.
So as an alternative for the many classic snack bars we know, they introduced a Japanese concept with a healthier tradition. A bento is actually a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine. It includes rice, vegetables, fish or meat in a box. It’s often eaten cold in Japan but Mari and Philippe do serve a range of hot dishes to please the customers.
Op = op
Op = Op in Dutch means that when the dishes are all sold out, there is no more food to serve. Mari starts her day at 7am to prepare all the dishes. Because they are only open between 11.30am and 2pm and between 6pm and 8.30pm, they are limited in what they serve. They are closed on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Holidays as they cherish spending quality time with their family. I love how it makes it all so much more exciting as you really get to long for your food. I think it's something that only makes the food taste better. In our society and with our way of life we often forget to have a desire for food and with this lovely new restaurant shining in our streets you’ll feel the kick of enjoying every bite.
They also have exquisite suggestions every week that they post on their Facebook page. You can find the whole menu on the website as well. The take away also has a terrace and a small eating room.
You can find Mari and Philippe in the Prekersstraat 63, 2000 Antwerp, nearby Nationalestraat.
Text by Karima
Pictures by Rik and Op is Op