Sunday Brunch at Ming Dynastie

When travelling to other European countries, I’m always a bit skeptical of eating Chinese food. It’s customary for the cuisine to adapt to local tastes, and when it comes to Chinese food, it normally results in highly salty, fried but otherwise fairly bland food. On a very rainy weekend in Berlin, I decided to head over to to try their Sunday brunch buffet.

Not really expecting as much (typically lower-end quality cuts and mainly fried dishes) I was quite surprised by the selection on offer. The food also turned out to be pretty good as well. There are, of course, the crowd pleasing sweet-sour pork dishes, etc, but they also had on offer a number of interesting things that seemed to take a bit more effort such freshly cooked Cloud ear mushrooms, hot and sour cucumbers, jellyfish salad, duck and fish in black bean sauce.

Even dessert impressed considering Chinese isn’t the most well known for its sweets including the pancake with peanut pastes, Chinese sponge cake and the yummy steamed buns filled with custard.

The reviews I read said that the quality was held pretty high in this branch (not sure about the other two) because it sits opposite the Chinese embassy. I’d definitely say so as well.

Name: Ming Dynastie
Found at: Brückenstrasse 6, Mitte, Berlin
Nearest S/U-Bahn: Jannowitzbrücke S-Bahn

Chipps No. 2

Apparently there are two of these places now set up in Berlin, started by the very same and well respected chef who started the fantastic Cookies Cream experience. The one I visited was the most accessible from Hackescher Markt where Oranienburgerstrasse meets Friedrichstrasse.

The concept for meals for lunch and dinner – a kind of playful cooking with numbers style where you pick a number of ingredients and they make a playful dish out of it. It reminds me a little bit about those crazy Mongolian BBQ buffet places where you pile everything into a bowl, hand it to a chef and they mix it up. Fortunately unlike those Mongolian BBQ places they don’t let you step too far out of the bounds of what makes sense you rather than ending up with bowls that all taste the same you actually end up with some pretty good dishes.

Strangely enough I didn’t go for the main, hungry for some decent breakfast stuff. The menu here is much easier where you can literally order by the number. Tempted as I was by the infrequently offered, eggs benedict that they playfully call “Bed Head” (€8.50) I decided for the french toast with scrambled eggs and bacon, the “Lumber Jack” (€8) . Just as rich, if not probably much worse for me, it was the perfect cure for the hangover hovering on the horizon.

Unfortunately I can’t really recommend the (milky) coffees with a cappuccino being more foam than coffee, although the espresso tasted pretty good on its own.

From what I can tell, they even do deliveries of their food in their tiny food delivery truck.

Name: Chipps No. 2
Address: Friedrichstraße 120, Mitte, Berlin, Germany

Vego Food World

Berlin is in no short supply of vegetarian places. However vegetarian doesn’t always really mean healthy. Like Yellow Sunshine, Vego Foodworld supplies vegetarian alternatives to fast food – everything from pizzas, gyros, even schnitzel. Their biggest main selections however are the burgers, all vegetarian including the “bacon and cheese” burgers.

You can order food with just fries, or salad, or both, the latter making it feel like you’re actually being slightly healthlier.

You’ll pay much more for vegetarian burgers although with a drink, fries and salad expect to pay around €10.

You can find Vego Food World tucked in around a trendy street in hip Prenzlauer Berg. Popular for folks eating in and particularly take away

Name: Vego Food World
Found at: Lychener Straße 63, Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin


Berlin is in no short supply of coffee stores. And fortunately for me, they aren’t all like your run-of-the-mill German coffee stores where there is often more milk than in their coffee of their “latte macchiatos”.

One of the coffee stores I’ve been meaning to visit was Godshot. Although it’s not that far away from our workplace, the fact that they don’t open up until 9am doesn’t make it easy to get to before work, and my body’s auto-awake til 3am response with coffee after 2pm doesn’t encourage me to try going after work. So, with that, I had to wait for a weekeend where I stayed in Berlin.

Fortunately it was worth the wait for a good coffee. It’s surprisingly big on the inside, not something you’d really expect from the small front interior – although you’ll probably be nudging people out for any of the seats outside. There’s enough character in this place for you and another one of your alternative ego’s.

I like the fact, for example, the sugar, mixes and tap water stand atop old Austrian Airway dinner trollies and the soft leather lounge chairs make you feel like you’re visiting someone else’s home than just a normal coffee store.

Just like all good coffee stores, this one sells your classic Flat White (offering three different coffee beans from €2.70-€2.90) although on my post-lunch visit, decided to go for a full bodied espresso, that comes accompanied by a nice little biscuit that I failed to eat.

Name: Godshot
Found at: Immanuelkirchestrasse 32, Berlin, Germany


I know of at least one restaurant near me that is like the Dunkelrestaurant (Dark Restaurant) that we ate at a couple of weeks ago. Just like one near me, the Unsicht Bar (Invisible Bar) focuses on serving a meal that really pushes your sensory experiences by forcing you to eat your meal in the dark.

It’s a bit like this:

You first sit down in the bar to choose what sort of meal you would like. They cater extremely well for vegetarians, fish lovers or just down right meat eaters. However not to spoil the fun, you get to choose dishes like a soup, “A greek with many names loves to bathe and be seduced by the Asian beauty whose taste is very fine indeed”, or an appetiser “Tender American girls cuddle up against Italian hunks against a green backdrop” so you really don’t know what you’re eating.

Of course, normally this is where I’d share all the photos of the food but obviously it would ruin the experience. Instead you’ll have to imagine what it’s like.

Firstly, our waiter introduced himself. He was, I think, half blind and got us to follow him to the edge of the dining room. Forming effectively a human congo line, though hands on shoulders rather than hips, he walked us through a winding passage way where the bright room gave way to a black void filled with interesting sounds. We could hear tables talking fairly loudly and only got a sense of what the room was like by where all the sounds of the people came from.

Not able to fully focus on the wall as our waiter moved quickly, we suddenly stopped at our table where he told us to stand still as he guided each of us to our chair and sat us down. He asked us to feel where everything was on the table, and using our hands, delicately pushed things around to rediscovery the feel of what would normally be on the table. A good thing our wine glasses were shorter and smaller than normal ones that we’d be more likely to knock over.

Instructed to alert him (how we have no idea) if we needed something, he dropped off some water and wine before whisking away to serve several other tables. At first, it was mighty awkward. Using fingers to guide the neck of the bottle to the glasses and another inserted to sense the overflow, I was amazed to see how we had to adapt.

Our first dish soon arrived and recommended by our waiter to use our hands, decided to poke around on the plate. Michael and I decided to have the beef menu, whilst another Patrick (Pat D) had the poultry. Michael and I had fun trying to guess what we had, and discovering different things on our plates at different times. It was actually a really great event that really got us focused on the different delights of the food we had to eat. Ours ending up being a slice of roast beef, with anti-pasti and salad. Full of flavour and really well cooked.

Our main was quite entertaining, because we knew we had a bit of beef coming and using a knife and fork to cut it proved difficult for the entire meal. Cutting it wasn’t too bad. What was hard was finding out that the fork you had came back empty, or with a chunk far too big to eat without even realising it. Deliciously made though.

Dessert was perfect as well, a white chocolate mousse of some sort with some berry compote or the like.

An awesome experience and definitely well worth going for. In a way, we were also pretty lucky we didn’t get the fourth course, a soup option that I can imagine simple spilling everywhere.

Name: Unsicht Bar Berlin
Found at: Gormannstraße 14

Bonanza Coffee Heroes

Yet another really great place in Berlin that does coffee worth visiting for. They even do their own roasts, as you can see in the picture below.

The cafe probably does much better in the summer with tables to sit outside as there isn’t that much room inside with their roasting equipment. This might explain why they offer magazines for reading as well.

A perfectly worth flat white to compete with any others around town. Great if you’re in the area.

Friendly service and a bustling atmosphere, particularly with Mauer Park not far from its steps, I can highly recommend this place if you’re in the area.

Name: Bonanza Coffee Heroes
Found at: Oderberger Strasse 35, 10435 Berlin


Apparently an institution in Berlin for a place that does very traditional German food, Chris recommended this place over Max and Moritz as its apparently filled with more locals than tourists. We came here in a fairly nice day, so all the tables were unfortunately taken. Inside, the interior is bright and airy so it looks just as good, but we couldn’t enjoy the sunshine as a result.

I can’t really remember what else was on the menu, but seeing as it was still in the heart of asparagus season, and Beelitzer Spargel (asparagus) was all the range, who was I to argue. I ordered the schnitzel with 400g of the big beasts.

Of course, like any good place, they served some awesome great beers, and I got to indulge in Schwartzbeir (black beer) along with my food. Mmm.

The schnitzel was well cooked and accompanied by a hollandaise sauce, particularly decadent (not the dish to have every night). More than the that, you can see the giant asparagus spears and they were the true stars of this dish. Flavoursome, and just cooked so they still had some texture. Delicious. I’ll have to come back and try a few other places.

Name: Weltrestaurant-Markthalle
Found at: Pücklerstrasse 34, 10997 Berlin- Kreuzberg


Before Stef left our project, we decided to hit one of Berlin’s handful of Michelin-starred restaurants. Opting for the one located in one of our most favourite neighbourhoods, Kreuzburg, a number of other people couldn’t believe a Michelin-starred restaurant could exist in the neighbourhood that invited the Döner Kebab.

Everything started off wonderfully – we were shown to our tables before being offered the menu choice and an aperitif to start. The menu errs a bit more on the slightly causal side of a restaurant, though I will note that service was extremely good throughout. Our menu differed slightly from the what was on the website, a good indicator the menu changes based on availability of ingredients.

We opted for the 5 course tasting menu and instead of the matching wines, opted for two different types of bottle of wines to share for the rest of the meal.

Shortly after deciding, a small amuse bouche arrived, fishcake with fresh apple and mango sauce (or at least I think it was – my memory is getting worse as times passes). I remember everyone being very impressed by the starter – fresh ingredients, delicate textures and a strong balance of flavours that worked remarkably.

We also got two types of bread – nothing particularly to write home about, but both came along with two different spreads – a tantalising light mayonnaise with garlic and herbs, and the other, fresh cheese curds mixed with some sort of green herb. Dare I say waldmeister (woodruff) that Germans seem to enjoy.

Here’s a picture of the Poached Saint Pierre in laurel milk with calameretti, confit tomato and dry olives. I can’t really comment on the dish since I didn’t order it, but others reported it was very nice. It also came with an ink sauce.

My first dish was the crayfish with eel jelly, baby artichoke, Granny smith and pancetta. For me, this was an amazing dish – the little jelly cube packed with eel flavour, the crisp salty pancetta balancing out sweet crayfish, with neither excessively dominating and apple and a scoop of apple-infused ice cream doing wonders to balance it out. No wonder these guys got an award for great food.

Next up was our Seabass with grilled asparagus, pea and tarragon gnocchis. A hearty piece of piece served with perfectly crisp skin, in season white asparagus (it’s everywhere at the moment), and a hearty handful of the potato pasta infused with the peas and herbs. Another winner.

When our dish of Braised and pan seared venison with brioche dumplings, yellow chanterelles and spinach arrived, we all commented on how wonderful it looked. Not content to have venison one way, we had it twice – but showing off the great flavours. Being a sucker for stewed meats, I particularly savoured the deep flavours developed by the braised version but both tasted amazing. The brioche dumpling also provided a nice textural counterbalance to the dish.

Finally on to our dessert rounds. Up first was the Cheese selection from Maitre Affineur Waltmann. It was a French selection, and although I’m not the biggest fan of cheese for dessert, it impressed everyone else – good selection from strong to soft, and of different textures. They provided more bread at this stage as well.

Here’s a quick picture of the dining room.

And well laid out cutlery throughout the meal.

Our final dessert for the evening, the Baked chocolate with cherry and ice cream made out of sour cream. The cherry came in three forms (fresh, glaced, and then served in a triangle form, effectively a mousse). The sharpness of the cherries naturally provided a great complement to the rich chocolate slice, and more counter balanced by the sour cream ice cream that worked to cleanse the pallette with every mouthful.

Not to be overly done, they also served a dish of petite fours (indeed various cakes, chocolates and bites to delight).

Hartmann’s is gold. Service was particularly great throughout the evening, warm and friendly at the same time without getting in the way. It’s strange location makes it even better. I reckon it’s also one of the best valued restaurants I’ve been to for some time (for the quality of food such as this).

Name: Hartmann’s
Found at: Fichtestrasse 31, Kreuzberg, Berlin 10967

Italian Beetroot Salad

Over the early May bank holiday weekend, I decided to actually come back from Berlin and spend a proper weekend at home. I even went to the trouble of cooking up a meal. To be honest, it’s probably one of the very first real home cooked meals (I don’t really count M&S salads or heated up meals from the freezer or store cabinet) I made since the start of the year. Terrible life of a consultant.

My sister came around and my flatmate was around, so we indulged in some great food made form some good ingredients sourced from some quality places.

I made some garlic and tomato rubbed toast to nibble on before our meal, although my focus was entirely on the main this time. I spent some time putting together a salad I’d enjoyed from an Italian place in Berlin and was trying to recreate it without the recipe and from memory. Not quite perfect, but very close.

Some of its constituent elements includes fresh radishes – I think it was a 100g packet of small radishes. Roughly chopped up into the same sized pieces

Spring Onions – Just one spring onion chopped up

Walnuts – I tried 30g here

Some red onions – Just a half because I didn’t want it too strong

Ginger – Once again just a nib, chopped into tiny, tiny bits

Some beetroot – I think I had four cooked beetroots that I then chopped into tiny pieces. Mix this all together with some plain unsweetened yogurt, just enough to cover everything. The final result was the salad below:

I then served this salad with some wonderful steaks sourced from The Ginger Pig alongside some freshly grilled asparagus (in season), and some goose-fat roasted potatoes.

Cooking three steaks at the same time at home, I think they all turned out perfectly medium or medium rare, and went down well with the freshly made mushroom sauce I also made from scratch.

Our wonderful meal finished off my a home made eaton mess that my flat mate made. Mmmm.

Different Dining at La Lavanderia Vecchia

A work colleague living in Berlin put me onto this great little restaurant that I wouldn’t have found out otherwise. the who. Focused on wholly Italian cuisine, you must walkout through several courtyards before uncovering the place. As one could only imagine in Berlin, the restaurant is themed out as a laundry with tea towels hanging everywhere, and strange memorabilia hanging around the corners.

The menu is short offering great value at only €13 for an entire three course meal. Being small, and printed, I’m guessing that it changes just like any good Italian kitchen should as the season and availability of ingredients change. The format is simple – order at the small counter and then grab a table. Some people grab a table first, and of course, that makes sense considering how popular the place packed out very quickly.

Each table held a large bottle of olive oil, salt and a pepper grinder for those wanting to add extra seasoning to their meal.

Our three course meal started with a fresh bowl of tomato soup, strong in colour and rich in flavour and texture. Fresh, sharp in flavour and quite a hearty sized starter that was a good indicator these people were serious about their food.

We diverged for the main meal, where I opted for the fish, wrapped in prosciutto served with seasonal roasted vegetables. The fish, firm to the touch flaked easily, the vegetables adding the depth and the crisp, saltiness balancing out the entire dish.

My sister was extremely happy with the skirt steak as well, served with some wilted greens and quite a large mount of mashed potatoes. It would have put me to sleep, but it disappeared quickly and I’m guessing that’s not because it tasted bad.

Dessert was a simple pear slice served with fresh cream and sprinkled with demerara sugar. I didn’t really like the slice mainly because it felt like they couldn’t decide between it being a slice, or a steamed pudding and the excessively soft textures didn’t let it win any points.

A unique dining experience and I’d be interested to see how the people and the atmosphere might change in the evening times.

Name: Lavanderia Vecchia
Found at: Flughafenstr. 46, D-12053 Berlin