From noodles to Klopse, here’s what else Berliners ate this year.
Sichuan: it’s hot!
Spicy, mouth-numbing dishes from southwestern China have been proliferating faster than the amount of lazy headlines about them. In January, Liu Chengdu Wei Dao (Kronenstr. 72, Mitte) set the blogs ablaze with its fiery beef noodle bowls and panda-shaped tableware. Will its long-teased chuan chuan xiang hotpot finally arrive in 2020? We’ve got our splash-proof bibs ready just in case. In the meantime, Liu’s got a new rival in ChungKing Noodles (Reichenberger Str. 35, Kreuzberg). After a series of sold-out pop-ups, Ash Lee found a permanent home for her chilli-slicked xiǎomiàn, made with organic wheat flour and topped with beef, pork, tofu or, on Wednesdays, chicken gizzards. We’ve also got our eye on Kong (Niederbarnimstr. 4, Friedrichshain), an artsy project space that just started serving a five-course Sichuan dinner for €35.
Street food from the subcontinent
Not one but three South Asian eateries made the jump from Bite Club to brick-and-mortar. Most buzzed-about was Moksa (Oranienstr. 200, Kreuzberg). German founder Zed Marke takes an experimental yet respectful approach to Indian dishes, serving “Goat Keema”, minced and sauteed goat meat, alongside his famed three-week-marinated tandoori chicken. For something more traditional, the comforting Pakistani curries and pakoras at Shabnam Syed’s new café Mama Shabz (Reichenberger Str. 61a, Kreuzberg) are already garnering praise after mere weeks in business. Further north, honest-to-goodness former sherpa Rajesh Lama set up base camp at Holy Everest (Gleimstr. 54, Prenzlauer Berg), selling water buffalo dumplings, veggie curries and hearty soups from his native Nepal.
Georgia on our minds
Internationally, this was the year everyone started Instagramming their khachapuri – sorry, “cheese boats” – and learned how to eat khinkali, soupy meat dumplings that you hold by the topknot. Kollwitzkiez dwellers got their fix at Der blaue Fuchs (Knaackstr. 43, Kollwitzplatz, Prenzlauer Berg), which put a priced-up cosy spin on these along with walnutty salads, meaty stews and skewers, while Mitte dined at the more traditional Svani (Torstr. 69, Mitte). Combining this trend and the current workshop craze, Schöneberg gallery/café Osbili (Gustav-Freytag-Str. 5) started running khinkali-making classes (€25 including a cup of high-proof Georgian chacha).
Don’t forget the Germans
Amid all the sexy newcomers, we still made room for good old deutsche Küche. Lausebengel (Grimmstr. 21, Kreuzberg) did justice to Berlin’s indigenous cuisine with tasty bar snacks, a showstopping fried trout dish and a killer beer selection; we only wish Graefekiez institution Café Rizz didn’t have to lose its contract for that to happen. Mitte’s Cordo (Große Hamburger Str. 32) switched from scene-y wine bar to ultra-gourmet German restaurant, complete with dainty miniature Franzbrötchen, alongside international cuisines. And the king himself, Tim Raue, pulled the most German move ever and resurrected his trademark Königsberger Klopse in a Potsdam manor owned by talk-show host Günther Jauch. More on Villa Kellermann next month.