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People in Poznań have this luxury that Berlin is only 300 km away. It is only two hours by motorway. And I must admit that I love the capital of Germany. Why? It’s because whenever I feel like I finally know Berlin well, it turns out that it’s just an illusion. In Berlin it is enough to enter one of the less discovered districts like Kreuzberg and you immediately encounter culinary surprises. Roaming a street that you should better avoid by night I suddenly come across a concept store with niche brands and collectors’ porcelain. We would like to introduce you to several places that you have to visit this summer in Berlin.
A Vietnamese cafe that stands out in the crowd – and it is not an easy thing to do, especially in Berlin. The interior is filled with wooden benches and tables with bamboo chandeliers hanging above them, which resemble baskets. These elements create the place’s exotic atmosphere and make it look a bit like a bazaar. While the Vietnamese coffee has a truly intriguing taste, it is not the only reason why the Berliners are drawn to Quà Phê. The food is so good it feels like it takes us to the streets of Vietnam. The menu offers a selection of small plates, tiny dishes you can comfortably eat with your hands. We especially liked Bánh Bao, a Vietnamese steamed bun with vegetables, stewed pork and tofu, and Bánh Giò – steamed pyramid dumpling served on a banana leaf.
It is generally believed that if a restaurant specialises in Japanese food, it certainly serves sushi. At Zenkichi they know what they are doing and they contradict this stereotype. They call themselves a “Japanese brasserie”, a place concentrating on other aspects of the Japanese cuisine, often less familiar to the Europeans. On entering Zenkichi you can feel like in a traditional ryokan – a bamboo corridor (or even a labyrinth) leads you to separate rooms. And it is there that the culinary magic begins. Thinly sliced beef tataki, ”hiyashi tsukimi”, a mysteriously called udon – that is a Japanese pasta served cold with organic egg and bonito dashi stock or traditional shabu shabu. At Zenkichi it is sake that plays the key role, the menu with this alcohol is pretty long. The professional staff will suggest which sake goes well with your dish and recommend a specialty for the true gourmets. And by the way, Zenkichi has another restaurant in New York.
When looking for Andreas Murkudis’ boutique in Potsdammer Straße, one might wonder if this is the right address. Especially after 6 PM, when the local casinos become crowded, the lines for currywurst become longer and certain ladies in boots start taking action. But the GPS tells me where to turn and suddenly in the middle of a gloomy courtyard emerges the kingdom of Berlin fashion. Andreas – the owner of the place – has a many-years’ experience in the fashion industry and he is well aware what he likes. In his boutique we will find his favourite brands and the brands he is friends with. He doesn’t follow the trends. He selects exceptional clothes and accessories from Dries Van Noten, Céline or Maison Margiela, which are almost impossible to get in other shops. Apart from the fashion, the versatile offer of his boutique includes porcelain works of art from the Nymphenburg manufacture, Mykita glasses and unique furniture by German designers. But this is just a fraction of the Murkudis’ secrets. If you are still unsure about visiting the place – just few months ago a cosmic boutique of Acne Studios opened nearby. This company then speaks for itself.
Potsdammer Straße 81E
Kreuzberg is more and more fashionable to the point that it becomes a serious competition to Mitte. And the hottest culinary address in Kreuzberg is now ORA, a very unusual cafe located at an always sunny Oranienplatz. Why is it unusual? It is located in an old pharmacy. The owners put a lot of effort so that the old furniture could be still in use both as a functional bar and an antique decor of the cafe. The atmosphere in ORA is really unique – the high ceilings and shelves filled with ancient glass vials are impressive. As for the food, ORA above all serves delicious coffee and home-made cakes. And for lunch there is goulash according to the owners’ own recipe, salads with local vegetables and soup of the day. You can come to ORA for breakfast, lunch and a drink in the evening. It is both laid back and beautiful.
According to an urban legend the Chancellor of Germany herself dines at Borchardt. They also say that you can eat there the best wiener schnitzel in town. And that one is actually true. Although the German national pride in the form of breaded meat has not yet experienced its worldwide revival, the one served at Borchardt is truly delicious. Why? In the end this restaurant was established 150 years ago, it served its dishes already under Wilhelm II and survived two world wars. Thanks to an expensive renovation Borchardt can pride itself today on historical, marble columns and a very stylish mosaic above the bar.
Franzosische Straße 47
Text and photos: Edward Kanarecki
Summer gide to Berlin
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