Week 51 : African Kingdom (Ghana)

The reason I started this blog was to challenge myself and push me out of my comfort zone. This week’s restaurant African Kingdom certainly did that as it is a cuisine that I had no prior knowledge of and is located in  a far away location on the outskirts of Moabit near Beusselstrasse S-Bahn. Approaching from the station bridge we could see the restaurant from some distance as it was lit up with flashing rainbow lights and a huge sign. Inside there were more snazzy lights and it looked quite empty and more like a bar or a social club than a restaurant which was slightly off-putting but we entered anyway as we were determined to continue and try Ghanaian food.

On one wall there was a huge TV blasting out African MTV and opposite was another huge TV with equestrian show jumping with the Afro-pop music making for quite a strange soundtrack to the leaping horses. The other clients who were all laughing and joking with one another when we walked in all seemed like they were regulars. When we entered the laughing stopped and as strangers we were on the receiving end of a damn good staring and evaluation as we sat down on one of the empty tables with a plastic floral tablecloth. Thankfully after an appraisal period we were then greeted warmly with smiles all round and especially by the waiter who seemed genuinely pleased to have new customers.

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grilled whole tilapia

We immediately ordered some Guinness when we saw it was available as the African version is always better than the Irish one, and they also had other African beers like Star and DjuDju. The food menu consisted of variations on rice and soups with either chicken or tilapia fish. We chose some beef stick meat with spicy pepper sauce to start and then for a main Richard went for grilled tilapia with hot pepper sauce and I decided to try Fufu with chicken as it is something I have heard of from African friends but never quite understood what is was.

The beef sticks came first and they were surprisingly delicious with a really deep beefy flavour. Despite not being soft, rare meat like we are used to, the chewy slightly crispy beef was really good to eat and I salivate just thinking about it now. The mains were also great, Fufu I discovered is a starchy, soft, ball-like substance which is there to mop up soup and stews. The closest European thing I could describe it as resembling would be polenta but even then it is quite different. I found it quite flavourless and very filling but the soup around it was tasty and piquant and they worked well together. Richard got a whole grilled fish with a mound of delicious rice and a bowl of extremely hot chillies. He loved the soft white fish with crispy fried skin but it was not quite to my taste being a bit too fishy for my liking, and he had also saturated it with chilli. We were very impressed by the prices (10 for the Fufu dish and 12 for the whole fish) as the portions were massive. With two Guiness each the whole thing was 42 euros well spent.
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The waiter checked in on us regularly and was really pleased that we enjoyed our food. When I told him that I write a blog he gave us lots of little business cards to hand out to our friends to encourage more people to visit and try the cuisine. This is exactly the sort of place that my blog was designed for as I would never have found it or walked though the door with the flashing rainbow lights otherwise and for this I am grateful.

Week 37 : Ankor Wat (Cambodia)

This week we visited another West German restaurant as we have almost run out of local options. Ankor Wat is situated in Eastern Moabit which is supposed to be the new up and coming area in Berlin apparently. This restaurant however is definitely not that, having the feel of an old established local favourite. There were plenty of locals dining inside and the interior was faded with a worn carpet and an old fashioned ‘Oriental’ restaurant feel but also very pleasant with lots of paintings, icons and plants.

ankor

Their menu was fairly large with lots of dishes that resembled other Asian cuisines such as Cantonese and Thai. The lack of a distinct cuisine was perhaps unsurprising considering the location and size of Cambodia . We chose a spicy beef salad and spring rolls for a starter and then the flambéed duck and beef stir fry for a main. The starters were very good, especially the salad which was fresh with little crispy pieces of roasted rice on top. The spring rolls came with four different dipping sauces that hit all the flavour notes and included quite a fiery chili sauce.

wpid-wp-1438157589043.jpegThe main dishes were mixed. The duck dish was huge and impressive when it was covered in rice wine and set alight. It tasted pretty good but  since I have started cooking my own duck at home to a perfect medium rare I tend not enjoy the way it is always served in most East Asian restaurants as overcooked and going dry. The beef unfortunately wasn’t so good and reminded me of an average Chinese takeaway. It wasn’t cheap either at 12 euros for the beef and 14 for the duck. Other people were having a Cambodian style fondu which looked interesting but that was over 30 euros to share.

The restaurant whilst attractive with pretty good food is not somewhere I will rush back to. We are completely spoiled in Berlin by other similar and much cheaper cuisines in Berlin especially the Vietnamese and Indonesian places I have visited for half the price with even better quality.

Date of visit 8th July