Happy winter! The weather here is cold, icy and not nice at all, but that could not stop me to tell you about all the things I ate during a short weekend to Berlin last summer! I’d never been to Berlin before, but seriously, this city is a foodie heaven. I can’t wait to go back again :D Here is a short recap of the wonderful places that fed me throughout this weekend and small spoiler: none were awful, at every single one I would eat again. Most of the places are in Historic Mitte because our hotel was located in this neighbourhood (really lovely neighbourhood btw :3 highly recommend). Also, since I was only in Berlin for 2,5 days the list is not very long, but I promise to go back soon and find even more foodie recommendations (in different neighbourhoods)! So here we go: first up, my noodle war Berlin experience. Cocolo Ramen vs. Makoto Ramen
We had just arrived in Berlin around lunchtime and we were craving a good hot bowl of steaming noodles, so, on to Makoto we went. Actually we went to Cocolo first, however, we found out that their Mitte store is only open for dinner. Makoto was a little bit of a walk away from our hotel, but so worth it. This is honestly the best ramen I’ve had outside Japan. Their homemade broths are so incredibly flavourful and the noodles are freshly made, soft and chewy at the same time, exactly how I like them. We also had some gyoza and kara age on the side. The kara age was not as crispy as I was used to, but the taste was spot on. The gyoza was good, but not exceptional. Makoto has a good extensive menu of different ramen soups to choose from (they also have a few non-ramen main dishes) and they get extra bonus points for having the option to add all kinds of extra toppings. Also, considering the quality, the low prices make this shop well worth a visit, as for a bowl of delicious ramen you will only pay around 7 euro. I would definitely go here again.
So, even though they were closed on our first try, we had to try the ramen at Cocolo as well. It became very clear to us that this was a very popular place since we had to stand in line for a little while and there remained a line all the way around the corner for our entire seating. Thank God we were quite early. We ended up having dinner at the bar, which is the best place in the house to have ramen in my opinion. Behind the bar, two Japanese men were making delicious bowls of steaming ramen with eerie accuracy and at a very high pace. It was absolutely mesmerising to watch and made sitting at the bar a fun and entertaining experience. Cocolo only sells ramen and a few side dishes (of course we tried the gyoza <3). The price for a bowl is slightly higher than at Makoto (around 9 euro for a bowl) and they contain fewer noodles, however, you do have the option of paying extra for an extra fill of noodles. To be honest, I preferred the broth of Makoto, but only by the tiniest margin. Cocolo definitely wins when it comes to the best tonkotsu though. They also serve better homemade gyoza, however, they still do not beat my own gyoza haha (recipe here). I’ve yet to find a place that does. Overall, I would definitely recommend Cocola Ramen as well, if not just for the ramen but also for the experience, so no clear winner in this noodle war for me.
A short walk down the road from our hotel was a little shop called the Barn. We passed this place on our first day and I knew I wanted to go there for breakfast the following morning. My gut feeling was right, my foodie senses were tingling in the right direction, ‘cause this place was so good, we went there for breakfast again our second morning as well. They take their time brewing you your personal cup of coffee using several brewing methods, like the V60 or the Aeropress. They grind the exact amount of their own coffee blends (also available to buy) needed for your cup of coffee and give you perfect results with every cup. Pure heaven in the morning. Most delicious Latte I’ve had in a while. They serve an array of fresh, homemade bread and pastries alongside their coffees and teas. I highly recommend the ham and cheese croissants and the pastel de nata! Honestly, try the pastel de nata <3 They are so good I’m craving them right now.
An honourable mention goes to their shakerato, a shot of espresso shaken over ice and fresh grapefruit juice. I wanted to be a bit adventurous on Sunday morning and tried this combo, suspecting it would be bitter plus bitter (and therefore maybe not so nice), but it turned out to be pretty refreshing with a subtle bittersweet, complex flavour. Delicious.
This Japanese café we found was heaven for a good matcha fix. This is how matcha products are supposed to taste like, not overly sweet with a nice, slightly bitter, deep green tea taste. The owners of this cafe definitely know what they are doing and their iced matcha latte brought me back to Japan. Finding good matcha products is difficult in Europe in my experience, because too often they add too much sugar or artificial sweeteners, thereby compromising the authentic matcha taste. The Mamecha Café, however, keeps it real, so if you like the real stuff, order one of their matcha drinks (the matcha cappuccino was wonderfully creamy) or matcha infused sweets and desserts. The matcha tiramisu was divine and their matcha castella cake (sponge cake) brought me back to Nagasaki, where this type of cake is celebrated as the signature dish of the city. I also tried the summer special: watermelon yoghurt sponge cake. Again not too sweet, great fresh watermelon flavour and moist, delicious cake. The MaMeCha Café also sells warm lunch boxes till 18.00, which we didn't try, but they looked really nice (the place was quite packed with people for lunch). They have authentic tatami sitting places inside and a little shop next door (MaMeCha no tonari) where they sell some of their teas and accessories. I bought a lovely little tea box with an orange sakura flower design, of course, as a good addition to my tea box collection.
Also, if you are a lover of tea, visit one of the two Paper & Tea shops in Berlin. It is a speciality tea shop sanctuary with a large assortment of teas, that you’ve probably never seen before, in beautiful packaging. I couldn’t resist and bought a small bag of Pu Erh tea buds that are great for cold brewing, after taste testing the subtle natural sweetness.
Next up we went to Fine Bagels for lunch. This quaint bagel shop is located near the east side gallery and serves fresh, homemade bagels. Nothing bad to say here. The bagels were great, traditionally made and very tasty. I can recommend the onion bagel (with crispy onions on top) and the sweeter egg bagel is nice as well. I loved the goat's cheese cream cheese, they offered, quite unique, and it paired amazingly well with the onion bagel. I still have to get my local bagel place to try it. Nice bonus: this bagel shop shares a storefront with a bookstore and if you spend 15 euro or more on books, you get your drink for free :).
For dinner, we had to have burgers, because Peter and I enjoy a good burger anytime we can. Fortunately for us, we had the Shiso burger right around the corner from our hotel. This small little place is continually crowded, but waiting a little moment is well worth it. Their terrace place consists of large picknick benches (so you might have to sit next to other customers if you want to eat outside, inside they have smaller, separate tables), but to me, this added a lovely, bbq party atmosphere. I loved it. Shiso burger specialises in combining Korean flavours with delicious burgers. So, sitting in the sun we enjoyed a really good bulgogi burger and a tuna steak burger accompanied by some lovely sweet potato fries (holy nomnoms those were good) and some homemade shiso iced tea. They also had some great looking potato spirals on a stick, which I kinda wanted to try, but I was so full, so had to leave those for next time haha. We did try the frozen sesame mochi for dessert, because well mochi, duh. Good to know: they also serve a pretty good looking standard burger (with or without cheese), if you happen to travel with non-Korean food eating companions. Bonus points: they are really affordable and do take out as well. I kinda wish I could get a burger there right now.
There you have it, these were the major places we ate at during our stay in the lovely Berlin. The weather was nice, the walks around town inspiring and the food was amazing. And even though my Berlin food experience consisted of many Asian dishes, I couldn't leave Berlin without having some currywurst from Curry 61 and a jam-filled Berliner doughnut. (omnomnom)
Bye bye, love you a latte!