My recent trip to Berlin was gluttonous, to say the least. When I wasn’t trying to get a grasp on the city’s lengthy and tumultuous history, I was eating. I had my fair share of Berlin’s most ubiquitous dishes: kebab and currywurst, but the booming international restaurant scene is what captivated me most.
These are the best things I ate in Berlin.
Turkish Meal – Hasir
My first stop in Berlin was Kreuzberg – a trendy neighbourhood with a strong Turkish presence, so it’s no coincidence I found myself drawn to a Turkish restaurant for dinner that night.
I was in a near-hangry state when it came time to order, and rattled off a number of dishes to the server. Grilled eggplant with yogurt and garlic. A tomato, cucumber and herb salad. Smoky roasted vegetables. Freshly baked pide bread, served with crumbly goat cheese, garlic, cucumber and mint yogurt, and tomato salsa. A glass of ayran – a salty yogurt-based drink. And then came one of the most delicious (albeit ridiculously rich) desserts I’ve ever had: künefe. Soft, white cheese covered in shredded dough, soaked in sweet syrup, and topped with a sprinkle of pistachio, served hot out of the oven. This entire meal was mouth-wateringly delicious, but that gooey, savoury-sweet dessert really managed to steal the show.
Food Market Eats – Markthalle Neun
Markthalle Neun, an indoor market in Kreuzberg, is host to a Street Food Market every Thursday evening, with dozens of delectable options: everything from Spanish tapas to Vietnamese pancakes to Mexican tostadas.
After circling the market and scrutinizing my options, I made a beeline for the Bao Kitchen stall to try one of their signature Bao Buns. Since I devastatingly missed out on Bao when I visited Netil market in London last year, and since Edinburgh is virtually devoid of any Bao buns, I get slightly excited whenever I come across them. Bao Kitchen’s bun was soft and pillowy, filled with soy marinated tofu, Asian slaw with ginger-lime dressing, Sriracha mayo and coriander.
Next up I had onigirazu, a take on the traditional Japanese onigiri rice ball. A filling of rice mixed with anything from meat to fish, omelette or veggies, spread onto a sheet of nori seaweed, folded into a square, then sliced in half and eaten like a sandwich. Simple and delicious!
Bao Burger – District Mot
The intricately detailed decor is what struck me initially when I walked into District Mot, a Vietnamese restaurant included on the food tour I took with Bite Berlin. From multicoloured plastic stools to a traditional food cart, and a tangle of power lines hanging from the ceiling – not a single detail was overlooked trying to emulate the essence of Saigon’s streets.
Their Bao Burger is a bit different from the other traditional street food dishes offered on the menu, but it’s still chock full of flavourful Vietnamese staples like fish sauce, fresh mango, pickled vegetables, red onion, soy sauce, mayonnaise and coriander – piled on a beef patty, between a steamed bun. It incorporated the lovely balance of flavours – salty, sweet, sour, and spicy – that make Vietnamese dishes so distinctly delicious.
Lebanese Platter – Babel
Babel’s menu is simple: essentially you can choose from a combination of fillings – halloumi, shawarma, kafta, falafel, metabel, baba ganoush and hummus – together in a pita wrap or as a platter.
I opted for the falafel and baba ganoush platter, which came with a generous portion of pickled vegetables, salad greens, fresh herbs, and few different sauces. The combination was a phenomenal mix of contrasting textures, spicy, sweet and savoury flavours. Bursts of sweetness from the pomegranate seeds and mango sauce, savoury falafel, tangy garlic sauce, a potent chili sauce, fragrant fresh mint and basil, and smoky baba ganoush. I think my friend described it best when she said it was a “taste sensation.”
Silo is notorious for quality coffee, but their food is what stands out most in my mind. I love breakfast, and their shakshouka is one of the best breakfast dishes I’ve had in a long while. Eggs poached in a Mediterranean-style tomato sauce, topped with feta and dukkah (a mixture of crushed nuts and spices), served alongside slices of sourdough drizzled in olive oil. The creamy yolks blended seamlessly with the zesty sauce, and the dukkah added a spicy, flavourful crunch.
Have you been to any of these restaurants? Do you have any memorable meals from Berlin?