Coinciding with North Korea’s national day of celebration for the end of the Korean war was our visit to Berlin’s second North Korean restaurant. The first is Airaing in Wedding which is apparently a long established local favourite. They opened their new outlet in Kreuzberg near Görlitzer park a couple of months ago and I discovered it a few weeks ago passing by on the bus. We’ve been excited to visit ever since and I have retrospectively changed the other blog to read South Korea to allow this ‘new’ cuisine.
The interior was everything I imagined a north Korean restaurant to look like; sparse and utilitarian but sadly without any ridiculous posters of any of the Kim Jong dynasty chaps. I had read another blog about Airaing that described the interior as being akin to that in an AA meeting room. This is fairly apt especially if you imagine a time at which many of Berlin’s hipsters decide to come off the booze and join a meeting. The place was absolutely packed with bearded guys and their willowy ultra-hip girlfriends all heartily tucking into table grills and mountains of Bibimbap. (Where do these girls put it all? Why are they so skinny? Bitches!) Fulfilling 50% of the client criteria we sat down on the last remaining table and waited and waited and waited to catch the eye of the waitress.
I assumed that the brusque inattentive service must be authentically North Korean as they’re not exactly famous for their hospitality or service culture. But the food when it came totally made up for it. We ordered the table grill with pork belly and octopus and a pancake type thing with seafood. The grill is brought to your table and placed on a camping gas stoves for you to attend to. They check in every now and then to see if you can turn it down low when food poisoning is no longer an option.
The flavours of the bbq grill were delicious hitting the perfect levels of spiciness and sweet and sour stickiness, and to our surprise the meat and fish were also cooked to perfection. The grill came with lots of yummy little side dishes such as kimchi, seaweed, potatoes and marinated cucumber. The pancake was also really good but made it far too much food and we left half. Drinks were very cheap at 2.50 for a large beer and 3 Euros for a large bottle of mineral water and the whole bill was 38 Euros with a tip.
For a long time the only Korean place in Kreuzberg was the over-hyped, pricier, flashier kimchi princess which this cheap North Korean flavour beast really knocks out of the water. Airaing two will definitely become a firm local favourite.
Date of visit 27 July 2015