A delightful little neighbourhood Japanese restaurant with a bar that one wouldn’t just come to for a drink, but rather wait for companions at. Eight tables outside under a canopy and great lunch deals: the Ume menu for €5.90 with a large Miso soup and a platter of sushi was more than enough but the Sake (€7.90) and Maki (€7.50) menus would suit those with much larger appetites. Fresh, high quality food with friendly service.
Very friendly service from the father of Rohit Kachroo, ITV’s Africa correspondent, and a warm evening sitting outside on the large terrace made our dinner here wonderful. The customers are faithful to this neighbourhood favourite, and it is allegedly the oldest Indian restaurant in Berlin. Dhal makhani was hearty though lacked some of the spicy punch that is a standard of Punjabi restaurants, but the lamb biryani was delicious, with plenty of meat and a decent gravy.
The best burgers for under €5 I’ve ever tasted in my life. The mango-curry sauce works well with the fries, or to dip your bun into after you’re done. The chilli-cheese fries were delicious, perfectly balanced and crispy. The queue can take more than a few minutes, but for quality, taste and atmosphere – outside a former toilet under U1 tracks – it’s unbeatable.
U-Bahn Schlesisches Tor
We heard that the queue for this food cart can take an hour on a busy night, and you’re not even guaranteed a meat wrap at the end of that wait if they’re changing their chicken stock, as they do a few times a day. So we went at 2.30am on a Friday night, when the Berlin crowds are mostly still in bars and clubs. Durums, with their tortilla-style wraps, are much better if you want more meat and less bread. These were without a doubt the best Turkish kebabs I’d ever tasted (my usual preference for Lebanese Shawarmas is on very shaky ground now) and the ingredients so fresh and well combined. The three sauces they smear on the durum at the first stage, the curdy cheese, the fresh mint leaves, the finely-chopped salad mix, a couple of potato wedges, and the good-quality shredded chicken can all be savoured, wrapped up in a tight foil tube so it’s not at all messy to eat. Mustafa’s deserves its rep, and has understandably become the focus of the hip neighbourhood.
The most famous of the sauce-on-sausage joints in the city, Curry 36 constantly has a throng of eager tourists as well as locals under its canopy. There’s usually a queue but it lasts just a few minutes, unlike the hour it can sometimes take to get a kebab from Mustafa’s, twenty metres away.
We tried the currywurst, the bockwurst and the chicken nuggets, and I’m dismayed to say that the latter were the best. I’m sure German sausage can taste marvelous, but not in this format: chopped up, smothered with a thick tomato sauce, sprinkled with ersatz curry powder and then eaten in pieces with a tiny plastic fork. It was certainly cheap and the staff are friendly, but the meat was dry and had the texture of cardboard. It wasn’t even hot. This might be the biggest con in German ‘cuisine’.
Listed as one of the top ten bars in the world, lauded for its cocktail list, yet pilloried and attacked for its hipster chic and pretentiousness, and general unwillingness to accommodate the gaggles of bridge-and-tunnel revellers, Callooh Callay is doing swift business in polarised Shoreditch. The ‘room through a wardrobe’ is a mere gimmick, neither defining it as a Narnian wonderland concept nor excluding others from passing through, as you need to get to the toilets that way.
We were ushered out of the rear lounge as it is only for seated customers and David Schwimmer was one of them, his baseball cap only drawing attention to himself as a sleb laying low.
Bar staff are generally quick and polite, and one of the mixologists waxed lyrical about the Roots Manuva, a turmeric syrup-laced gingery concoction that I will have to try next time. However, a surly-looking waitress convinced me that some of the reported rudeness here may not be exaggerated.
Our old-fashioneds were basic, not blended slowly as they should be, but finished perfectly with the orange peel. Some cocktails are served in interesting glassware – a skull pitcher caught my eye, though didn’t seem to contain the most sophisticated drink available.
The menu is a chaotic work of art in itself, the lighting is low and flattering, furni is eclectic and the crowd, when it’s not full of suburbanites and hen-night squawkers, is respectable. I’d go back, and maybe even book a table.
Closest tube: Old St
We waited outside in a queue for one hour. This is the new normal in London for Dude Food: no bookings, no formalities, but good quality grub once you do finally sit down. The Smokey Robinson and Ari Gold cheeseburgers (£7.50/£8.50) are supreme, rich combinations largely due to the sweet brioche, and the smoked confit wings are great value for money (£5); our dark-and-stormys (rum & ginger beer) were uneventful and chips with rosemary salt were decent, but at no point did we feel rushed by the friendly, boozy staff.
Closest tube: Bond Street