Photo by Alexander McBride
Another slick-hip Asian joint in Mitte? Vietnamese eateries seem prone to an excessive interior design malady whose symptoms include repetition of an ‘exotic’ theme: overuse of paper lanterns (Sian) or hundreds of bits of origami hanging from the ceiling (ChiSing) are two such flare-ups.
At Cô Cô, the new Vietnamese lunch bar serving ‘exotic’ baguette sandwiches, the theme is the pickled-lemon jar. Dozens of them line wall shelves and adorn tables. Add the vases of bamboo, thorny exotic flowers and profusion of bamboo basketry – baskets of fruit, cute baskets for nicely serving the sandwiches and a delightful bamboo strainer as large as your tea cup – and you may not even notice that what you’re eating is a sub sandwich with a little Southeast Asian flair.
A few German magazines have described the food as light and healthy, to which we say, “whaaaaaaaaat?” Don’t trust the copious amount of fresh tomatoes, cucumber and coriander they top it with: you are eating a standard refined, bleached wheat baguette (nicely marketed as the ‘French colonial’ touch!) lined with (wasabi) mayo, a squirt of spicy sauce and packed with one of several marinated meats or soy on offer… MSG for sure!
We wrapped our jaws around a bánh mì classic (€4.20) filled with marinated pork and a bánh mì Xìu Mai (€4.70) i.e. tomato-meatball sub. Both were as delicious as really good junk food: a touch of sweetness, lots of salt and spices! What’s more addictive than that? We could have eaten about three more of them. But then it would have no longer been a cheap lunch – especially if you add a ‘fragrant tea’ (€2.50) or a Vietnamese yoghurt shake with fresh lime juice (€3.50).
Just a couple of months in business, and Cô Cô is swamped with Yucies (young urban creative internationals) desperate for a fancy quickie over lunch break. We’ve been yearning for a real ‘normal’ sandwich joint for years. While Cô Cô is a welcome, novel addition to the mess of Rosenthaler Platz, it’s not going to become our regular lunch haunt.