Week 19 : Mabuhay (Indonesia)

On a cold wet Monday our quest took us over to that weird nothingy bit of Kreuzberg near the river where it turns into Mitte and doesn’t really feel like Kreuzberg. We were in search of one of Berlin’s three Indonesian restaurants: Mabuhay. Again thanks to a combined thumbs up from Yelp and Trip Advisor.

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Across from Bartholy Mendellson U-bahn underneath a block of 70s flats is a tiny Indonesian restaurant which was packed full at 6.30 on a Monday. Thankfully we perched on a shared table and were able to eat asap as I was so hungry after three beers beforehand that I couldn’t wait. Also my first time trying this cuisine so I was very excited.

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nasi goreng

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crispy chilli butter prawns

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beef redang

We chose three dishes to share at an average of six euros each; butter chilli prawns, beef rendang and duck nasi goreng all served with a giant bowl of rice. Everything was so tasty and fresh and sooo good I am salivating just thinking about it. The rendang was my favourite, it was hot and sour and aromatic and the beef just melted in your mouth. The second best part was the bill, 25 euros for everything for two greedy people. I love living and eating in Berlin!

Thankfully this place now qualifies for my blog as it has dropped the dual Filipino cuisine that it once did. I’m so glad as otherwise I would have gone to another place and missed out on finding one of my favorites so far.

(date of visit 23rd February)

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Week 18 : Shayan (Iran)

Back to Schöneberg again as we took a late lunch at Iranian restaurant Shayan after cycling over from Friedrichshain. I had high hopes for this place after reading so many rave reviews and trying unsuccessfully to book the previous evening. At 3pm a Saturday afternoon it was pleasantly busy but not full. The interior was inviting with candles on the tables and ancient Persian friezes on the walls but not in a tacky way.

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From the extensive menu we chose a mixed starter plate and some deep fried cheese parcels to start followed by lamb shank with fragrant rice and green beans and chicken in a walnut and pomegranate sauce which sounded unusual but was something I had read as being highly recommended in the reviews. My starter plate was great, I got the most delicious aubergine pate which I could have eaten a whole plate of, some deep fried spinach and raisin balls, a crispy parcel, stuffed vine leaf and some Iranian bread – all yummy.

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Richard won the main courses though. My chicken dish was quite bizarre it tasted quite unlike anything I’d eaten before and was an unsettling dark brown colour. I didn’t dislike it, but didn’t like it either. The lamb shank however was succulent and came with tasty rice and a tangy sauce. Washed down with a half a litre of rioja and a bottle of sparkling water the whole bill came to 50 euros with tip. We will definitely come back but next time I’ll trust my instincts rather than reviews and get a whole plate of that delicious aubergine pâté!

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(date of visit 21 Feb 2015)

Week 17 : Ixthys (South Korea)

If you like Korean food then Berlin is a good city to live in. Every district has its own Korean place from kreuzberg’s famous Kimchi Princess to Neukölln’s food stand Mwaah by Tempelhof Airport to Airang in Charlottenburg’s run by North Korean exiles. All are pretty good but the word in the internet is that tiny, bizarre Ixthys in Schoenberg is the very best. Why is it bizarre you might ask? Well, it’s run by some ultra Christian elderly Korean ladies who decided that the best way to decorate their restaurant is to cover the walls with Bible quotes from floor to ceiling!

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We arrived at 6pm on a Saturday evening and the place was packed. We stood waiting for five minutes and then took a table as it became free. The place probably only seats less than 20 people but it’s not the sort of place you linger having no toilet and no alcohol. The food totally lived up to its reputation, it was super tasty. We ordered beef bibimbap, kimchi and pork bulgogi. Everything was really good, especially the pork in the bulgogi and the kimchi was the best I’ve had. The total bill for two happy full customers including tip was 21 euros.

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kimchi

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bulgogi

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Bibimbap

Week 16 : Chaparo (Mexico)

Mexican is one of my favourite foods that I like to cook at home. I’ve been told I’m a good Mexican cook and I really like to pile in the spice and fresh flavours like coriander and lime. Having such standards at home makes it hard to find a Berlin Mexican that matches up because of Germany’s spice aversion. We have tried plenty, including the very popular Santa Maria but none match up to the place we visited when we first travelled to Berlin together in 2013: Chaparro.

This small snack bar is five minutes walk from Görlitzer bahnhof in Kreuzberg so is super handy for a cheap, tasty meal whilst you are out and about. We have visited quite a few times but I’d never been on one euro taco Wednesday before so we chose to go for this for the blog.

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the now ubiquitous dia de los muertos design

the now ubiquitous dia de los muertos design

They’d been closed for a week for a refit and the new look was pretty cool and current but I think I preferred the slightly kitsch charm of the old look. The menu features the classic range of burritos, tacos, enchiladas and quesedillas with various meat, veggy and vegan fillings costing between 5-6 euros each plus added extras like pico de gallo, guacamole and sour cream. If I were vegan I’d definitely want to try the vegan chorizo which sounds very interesting! As a meat eater we are well served by barbacoa (minced beef), carnita (pork), grilled chicken, mole  (chicken stewed with chocolate and spices) and carne asdada (steak). We chose burritos with one each of the pork and beef and chicken tacos from the one euro specials. I also chose a horchata drink as this is something I have wanted to try for a while.

burrito

burrito

1 euro taco day

1 euro taco day

I’m not sure if they were having an off day or whether they’ve spent too much time thinking about the new look that they have forgotten how to cook but both dishes were nowhere near as good as they were in the past. The meat was quite dry and there was too much bland rice as filler in the burritos. Thankfully Chaparro give you the choice of three fairly spicy and tasty sauces including coriander and chilli and chipotle and these were enough to rescue the dishes. The horchata (rice milk with cinnamon) was really delicious and I will definitely be ordering this with my Mexican food in future and maybe making it at home. We will give them another chance based on previous form but sadly this time was a bit disappointing.

Week 15 : Il Ritrovo (Italy)

We quite randomly ended up at this Friedrichshain restaurant just off Boxhagener Platz on a Friday afternoon as we were hungry and in the neighborhood. This is not your typical Italian restaurant except for the food and chequered tablecloths. It has a punk anarchist vibe with radical left posters and graffiti all over the walls. It is a very Berlin style Italian restaurant in decor but the food is totally authentic. The waiters all look like hot Italian hipster anarchists and some could seem a bit aloof and uncaring although our guy was really nice.
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The card menu has about 18 different sorts of pizzas and then the blackboard has a rotating choice of pasta, polenta, gnocchi and fish dishes. The chef had clearly just had fun at the fish market and everything sounded delicious. We chose octopus carpaccio, monti e mare (mountain and sea) tagliatelle and a pizza with salsiccia, Gorgonzola and spinach with a cheeky house litre of red wine for only 7 euros.
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Wow. The octopus was fresh and delicious, the pasta was super tasty and the pizza huge thin and very good. We were really full and considered taking some pizza home in a doggy bag but somehow managed it. We couldn’t believe the bill when it came 27 euros for both of us with wine. Considering that the menu board changes weekly and this place is only 15 minutes walk from our flat, I think this will become a regular haunt for us.

Week 14 : Taverna Ouisa (Greece)

I did a best of three with the random number generator and got Greece, Cyprus and Macedonia. The dice were definitely telling us to go eat from this region – fair enough!

We found Taverna Ouisa in Schoenberg from the many favourable reviews. It seemed authentic if a bit pricey but we justified the cost as we were having a booze free weekend and saving money. So we headed over to Bayerischer Platz in West Berlin on Saturday evening to find a welcoming, packed restaurant with typical but not too cheesy Greek style.

We got a bit carried away at all the tasty starter options and ordered three things: ‘clams’ in a citrus sauce, grilled squid and baked aubergine. For mains we ordered the mixed grill and slow cooked lamb shoulder. We ordered too much!

Delicious squid

Delicious squid

There was a bit of a disappointing moment when the starter came as the English menu had been mistranslated and it was mussels rather than clams that arrived. We don’t mind them but would not normally order them and at 9 euros they made for a pricey starter.Clams are much more exciting. However, the squid which had been grilled on a wood fire made up for this disappointment, it was amazing, the best I’ve ever tried. The aubergine was tasty but I’ve had better in other Greek restaurants. The mains were great and filling especially the mixed grill which is normally a combination of words that immediately spell disappointment. This one was moist, perfectly grilled and featured pork souvlaki, farmer’s sausage, kofte, veal chops and lamb. The mammouth shoulder of lamb (almost an entire shoulder) was also very good although the lurid pink red wine sauce was a bit off putting and the side vegetables were pretty tasteless.

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Pile o’meat (mmmmn)

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Lamb shoulder

The wine selection looked good although we just drank mineral water and a Greek version of orangina as we are doing intermittent teetotal weekends this year. Even without alcohol the bill came to 80 euros including tip. Although the quality of the food was good I didn’t feel like it was good value. The service had been patchy and we felt that as soon as we had finished they wanted to get rid of us, I tried to catch the waiters attention about the mistranslation but they were too busy. I would hesitantly recommend this place and maybe order less in future especially not the clams!