Sunday, March 10, 2013

Destination Dining

One thing we've come to realize is that Berlin is not really a food town.  Oh sure, there's lots of food, but if you read my blog, then you know what I'm talking about.  Okay, it's not a foodie town.  When we first came to terms with this, we came up with the slogan "Good food, not just convenient food" because a lot of the food we'd been eating had been more convenient than good.  We then refined it to "Destination dining, not default dining," and we're using that now as a guiding principle when it comes to eating out. (Please note that we'll be trying out more places that serve German food in the near future and have no doubt that we'll find a lot to be happy about.)

On Thursday, we met up with a friend of a friend in Kreuzberg and were given some insight into the food culture of Berlin. For example, there is very little authentic Asian food in Berlin.  It seems that while there is a sizeable Vietnamese population in Berlin, food trends didn't support Vietnamese food at first, so people opened Chinese restaurants, which were in fashion, that then became Thai restaurants, when the trend shifted, that became Vietnamese restaurants that became Japanese restaurants and so on.  Oftentimes neither the proprietors nor the customers knew much about the cuisine to begin with, or they made it for a German tastebud.  This explains why there are a ton of sushi restaurants that serve Thai and/or Vietnamese dishes as well and spicy food is hard to find. Sooooo, we had our work cut out for us.

I'd been excited to try Kimchi Princess in Kreuzberg.  I like Korean food (and love kimchi) and thought it had potential (their bold graphics on their website as well as the fact that they also run a place called Angry Chicken piqued my interest).   We had dinner there on Thursday night, and while it was good, it wasn't great.  I had the bibimbap whose veggies were a bit cold, and Liss had the daeji galbi (spicy spare ribs), which were a little tough.  I felt like it had the basic flavours down, but it was missing something.  It lacked depth.  I'd probably eat there again, but I don't know if I'd make it a priority.

Yesterday we went to MaoThai Stammhaus in Prenzlauer Berg, which had been mentioned in Fodor's Berlin's 25 Best, a book my mom bought for us and has been a good guide so far.
A radish bird taking flight!
Our meal was great.  We ordered thod man pla (fish cakes), yam wunsen (glass noodle salad with ground pork), som tam jeh (spicy shredded papaya salad), and kiehwan ped krob (duck in a green coconut curry).  It was our main meal of the day, and when you're doing destination dining, you want a good sampling of the dishes.  There wasn't a disappointment among them, and we both agreed that we'd make the trip to Prenzlauer Berg just to eat there.  Yay!  Good Thai food!  Better even than a lot we've eaten in Canada or the States.

Not all of our meals will be or have been big splash-outs.  We went to Witty's, a food stand on Wittenberg Platz, to have organic currywurst and bratwurst, and that was good.  Of course, next week we're going to London, and I've made reservations for us at St. John's, but there will be plenty of street food and cheap eats as well.

We've gotten some recommendations of other places to try in Berlin, and we're always open to more.  If you know of a great place, let me know.  I'd be happy to make it a destination.

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