Customer in the spotlight: AUM Brussels

Brussels has recently gained a culinary hotspot: AUM, a vibrant meeting place on the ground floor of the Quatre Bras Tower in Kraainem. Founders are Lucka Wahba, ex-manager at AB InBev and co-founder of UNAH Mind Body Soul and Maxime Gillet, hospitality entrepreneur pur sang and co-founder of the Japanese-Peruvian restaurant SANZARU in Woluwé. The two bosom friends conjured a so-called “High Energy Fine Dining concept” out of the top hat: at AUM, you savour the spicy flavors of Indian cuisine against the backdrop of energetic oriental vibes. The place is a restaurant, bar and lounge in one and transforms into a sultry nightclub from Thursday to Saturday in the late hours where DJs transport insistent Indian beats to the dance floor. We spoke with both founders about the new Brussels crowd-pleaser
as well as about the menu, which seamlessly captures the unique style and atmosphere of the place.

Hey Maxime and Lucka, to cut to the chase: what does “AUM” actually mean?

Maxime: ‘AUM is the most important mantra and the holiest symbol in Hinduism. It represents the sound of the universe and the three main gods within the religion: Brahma is the creative force, Vishnu the sustaining and Shiva the destroying. The term so beautifully symbolizes what our restaurant stands for: we want to create a kind of magical world with its own customs, rituals and dress code. That vibrant energy is at least as important to us as the food itself. AUM is a place where you leave all your worries behind and immerse yourself undisturbed in the moment. Music plays an important role in that. Our playlists have even been studied by musicologists to create an authentic AUM vibe.’

Let’s start with the food: in that area, too, AUM cannot be captured by one concept. What can people expect?

Lucka: ‘AUM combines a fine dining restaurant and a food-sharing lounge, separated by a central bar that is indicative of the atmosphere we want to bring. Both zones are in a similar energetic musical ambiance, but offer a completely different experience. In the ifne dining area, you will enjoy innovative Indian-inspired gastronomy a la carte. In the lounge, the atmosphere is more relaxed and laidback. There you share smaller dishes with your company at a low or high table.’

And later in the evening, the restaurant turns into a party venue with DJs?

Maxime: ‘Indeed, on Friday and Saturday you can really fill your whole evening here. The closer we get to the night, the more we turn up the energy level. The absolute highlight here is the AUM Bonfire, inspired by a ritual from Indian culture: we invite DJs for a campfire moment and transform our venue into a sultry dance spot with an emphasis on ethnic, oriental and minimalist sounds.’

At AUM, even the smallest detail contributes to the restaurant experience, not least the interior?

Lucka: “Our interior was designed by WeWantMore. They worked hard for months to really make it something special. From the scenography to the materials, furniture and decorations, everything is custom conceived, designed and created to create a unique atmosphere. The interior has a certain glamorous feel, yet remains close enough to the orientalism typical of the overall concept.’

You are going very far. Even the menus are perfectly matched to the style and atmosphere of the restaurant.

Maxime: “That’s right. The menus are an essential element in our story. Tactility is an important concept for us. The different fabrics, textures and materials in each room stimulate the senses differently. Our menu also falls within that principle. They were printed by you on a chic velvet fabric. It is best to take them with velvet gloves so as not to put fingers on them. Very special. So reading the menu yourself becomes a little experience.