I couldn’t help but wonder about the life stories of the employees in Yarok, one of Berlin’s few Syrian restaurants over in Torstrasse in Mitte. Might they be former engineers, doctors and lawyers, making the best of it in Berlin while they waited indefinitely to return home? Due to the current war, Germany has accepted record breaking numbers of Syrian refugees, many of whom are vastly over-qualified for the work that they are able to do here. I also wondered whether the refugee crisis might bring us more Syrian restaurants over the next few years? Considering how delicious the food was here, this would be one tiny positive outcome from an otherwise unimaginably horrendous situation. Yarok, according to the restaurant website, means ‘green’ in Hebrew which symbolises solidarity between different peoples. This feels all the more poignant and important in light of the current crisis in Syria itself and with the refugees coming to Europe.
Yarok is in Mitte on North Torstrasse a ten minute walk away from Rosenthaler Platz . The restaurant seemed like a green beacon of light on an otherwise fairly dull residential area on the way towards Wedding. We arrived on a Monday evening to a fully packed restaurant which had simple imbiss style seating and swirls of bright paint on the walls. A couple were just leaving so we grabbed a table and looked at the fairly large menu. It seemed so busy that a one-in, one-out policy was in operation, but with the swift service nobody had to wait for long.
We chose the Yarok platter at 18 euros for two people as it seemed to have a bit of everything for us to try. I had a beer and Richard went for an ayran yoghurt drink. The plate arrived quickly to exclamations of ‘wow’ as it looked so appetising and was very large. There was kofte, shredded lemon chicken, falafel, meat filled phyllo pastry cigars, tabbouleh salad, bulgur salad, grilled vegetables and four dips; hummus, aubergine, yoghurt and a tangy mystery yellow one. Everything tasted really great and we mopped up every last scrap with the pitta we were given on the side. The highlights were the fresh and zesty shredded chicken, the delicious phyllo pastry parcels which were filled with aromatic lamb, and the smokey babganoush. There is not much else to say about the experience really, just that it was simple middle Eastern food from Syria done really well and we left feeling full and very satisfied with another great find.