Translated from German by Melissa Lyras & Sarah Mildenberger
German metropolis are generally known for their characteristic stodgy dishes which warm the cockles of your heart in the cold weather. In Munich, one shouldn’t miss the “Weißwurstfrühstück”, a breakfast plate including white sausage or the “Haxe mit Sauerkraut”, which is a pork knuckle reminiscent of something the Flintstones may have dined on. In Stuttgart, there are some similarly hearty dishes such as “Kässpatzen”, a type of dumpling pasta served with cheese and “Maultaschen” which are a kind of huge ravioli pillow commonly stuffed with vegetables and meat. Head further north and the dishes don’t get any lighter, with schnitzel and green sauce in Frankfurt where they essentially top a crumbed and deep-fried piece of meat with a creamy, herb-rich sauce or Labskaus in Hamburg which is a “delicate” mix of corned beef, potatoes, onions and sometimes even a herring finish with a fried egg. German cuisine stands it ground.
Of course, lovers of traditional German food will also get their fill in Berlin. During my studies in the capital however I was overwhelmed by the diversity and multiculturalism of the cuisine. An important aspect of the city’s culture is conveyed through Berlin’s gastronomical offerings and, we might add, the self-proclaimed foodies among us can also be thankful that eating out in this city doesn’t pull too hard on the purse strings. For all the new arrivals and travel-fiends, a weekend in Berlin typically involves a lot of food. There is even a great pick of restaurants added which stand out for their musical offerings, their particular ambience, their elaborate cocktail menu or to visit after a night at a bar or club.
To make you look like an expert on the Berlin dining scene and to impress your visitors and friends from the moment you touch down, here are my top three secret weapons:
1. Sasaya - Japanese
If I had to pick a favourite restaurant in Berlin, my choice would be Sasaya. In this small and cozy Japanese restaurant in Prenzlauer Berg, you won’t find a exaggerated “Spicy-Crunch-Avocado-Full-Fat-Philadelphia-Salmon-Tuna Roll”. The sushi at Sasaya impresses with its exceptional quality and the extensive variety of fish available. To this day, more than four years after leaving Berlin, I have not found a comparable sushi restaurant nor in the same price bracket nor in any other. I honestly question how Sasaya in Berlin can offer such great value for money. The fish literally melts in your mouth. After the sushi, the highlights of the experience include the Japanese sushi chef behind the counter who one can watch, fascinated, as he expertly prepares the dishes and the appetizers which offer a great insight into the breadth of Japanese cuisine.
My tip for a first-timer at Saraya:
- Appetizers: Seetangsalat (seaweed salad), Spinat mit Sesam und süßer Sesamsoße (spinach with sesame seeds and sweet sesame dressing), washed down by a Prosecco mit Pflaumenwein (Prosecco with plum wine)
- Mains: große Sushi Platte zum teilen (large sushi plate to share) - the chef’s selection of the catch of the day with Nigiri and Maki rolls
- Dessert: Kuchen mit süßem Bohnenmus (Cake with sweet red bean mousse)
Costs: approximately €20 per person, based on two people dining
For a reservation on weekends, be sure to book at least one week in advance. Without a reservation, you’re likely to only be lucky at lunchtime :)
2. Zum goldenen Hahn - Italian
My second favourite is an Italian restaurant in the heart of the Wrangelkiez neighbourhood, and I can’t decide whether it’s so high on my list because of the spectacular pasta or the ambience. Der goldenen Hahn is, incidentally, a fantastic choice for a (first) date: small tables with checkered tablecloths, dimmed candlelight and antique wine racks. But if you’re already thinking “um, all sounds too stereotypical” you’ll be relieved to hear it also features excellent music, reminiscent of classic pieces from the 60s with rockabilly charms rather than your cookie-cutter Eros Ramazzotti or Gianna Nannini. In the summer you can eat outside directly on the street for that pure Berlin summer sensation.
Here are my top tips:
- Caponata Siciliana - a sweet and sour eggplant salad that’s deliciously moreish
- Selbstgemachte Pasta mit Salbeibutter (Handmade pasta with sage butter sauce)
- Kalbsleber venezianische Art (Venetian-style Calves Liver)
- Loup de Mer aus dem Ofen (Oven-roasted Sea Bass)
- Panna Cotta - definitely not original, but still worth repeating over and over ;)
Costs: approximately €40 per person.
The wine is always served in full bottles but you only pay as much as you actually consumer. Book here as early as possible. The menu changes frequently.
3. Dudu - Asian Fusion
Dudu is an Asian-Fusion restaurant in central Berlin at Rosenthaler Platz. It is particularly well suited as the perfect opener to a long (party) night as it offers an excellent meal with matching “light” electro music. In summer you can enjoy your meal on their gorgeous terrace.
- Seafood Bowl!!! - The Dudu interpretation of the Japanese mix of sashimi and rice with salsa, guacamole and herb salad - wow!
- Matcha Vanilleeis (Matcha Green Tea Vanilla Ice Cream)
Costs: approximately €20 per person.
As per usual, reservations are required and yes, I’ve never managed to go past my standard order of the Seafood Bowl when visit but the other dishes also look pretty darn good.
You can find more inspiration here:
The Berlin Food Stories blog, written by the Swedish food blogger who chronicles his favourite haunts in Berlin.
After the twins had tasted “My Pleasure” in 40 days, through 40 Berlin restaurants, they founded their own food, lifestyle and travel blog "In Search of the Best" with excellent tips to help you navigate your way around the capital.
If you are very new to Berlin, you can book your new home directly online here through Spotahome.