Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Thai Imbiss

Seriously, this place simply called itself "Thai Imbiss". But don't judge this place from its shabby, messy interior; This is where most Thais go to eat when they want to have authentic Thai food.

Like Asian's "Kopi tiam", this Imbiss is arranged like a food court. There are five food vendors which serve different types of Thai food. There's a dining area in the middle of the imbiss. Mind you, everything here is self-service. Besides the food counter, there's also a main counter that sells beverage and the meal-vouchers. To enjoy a meal here first, you have to buy a 5 euro meal-voucher (all meals here cost 5 euro, so that's convenient), then the you order your meals at any one of the vendors, and then you carry your food to the dining area. Food courts or hawker stalls like these are very common in Asia but not here in Germany.

Anyway, I was euphoric when I entered this food court. It makes me feel like I'm in a chinatown back in Asia again. And their food was excellent! It was not germanized at all, but authentic just like the ones you'll get when you visit Thailand.

thai imbiss berlin

Here is the barbecued pork, Chinese sausage and roast pork belly over rice (phew that's a mouthful). The red sauce on the right side of the picture is more sweet than it is spicy. They also served a home-made soup (included with the meal).

roast pork rice

Here is the chicken rice. It's a combination of deep fried battered chicken and boiled chicken. They serve the chicken with plain jasmine rice, which taste good, but personally, I think it'll be better if served with Hainanese chicken rice. For those of you who are clueless, when Hainanese rice are made, they infused chicken soup with the rice so the end product is a very fragrant and flavorful rice! But I digress.

chicken rice
And here's the Pad Thai

pad thai

Don't forget to order the Thai iced tea and longan drink

iced milk tea and longan drink

As dessert of the day, there's cubed taro with coconut milk (I would describe it as similar to Indonesian Kolak and Malaysian Bobo Cha Cha)

taro in coconut milk

Thai Imbiss
on the road directly behind S-Charlottenburg

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Japanese Bento at Daruma

Daruma is not a restaurant, it's more like a tiny supermarket that has expanded into a cafeteria. I like them because they have a simple menu that only has 8 items on it. This is good because it shows that they only specialize in authentic Japanese food (at least the waitress and the chef are japanese).

Daruma Menu

Here is a picture of Ebifrai Bento served with Miso soup as an appetizer
This bento has all of these: deep fried prawn tempura with rice served in traditional black-lacquered box, cooked green beans, tamago, and some other veggies as side dishes. In the middle of the box they serve two slices of pineapple as dessert.

Daruma Ebifrai bento

As the "special of the day", Daruma also serve Saba Bento with miso soup. Like any typical bento, Saba bento is also served in a traditional black-lacquered box. Saba (which means mackerel in Japanese) bento consists of three pieces of salt-grilled mackerel, with similar side dishes like the ones in Ebifrai Bento. The only exception is that they have green beans instead of potatoes.

saba bento

For drinks, I recommend calpico


And before you leave the shop, don't forget to grab their store-made dorayaki at the counter. Dorayaki are pancakes filled with red bean paste. I remember watching Doraemon eating dorayaki (a manga/cartoon character) as a kid and I remember being really curious about this dessert. Daruma's dorayaki doesn't dissapoint. The pancake is thick but it's pillowy-soft and bouncy (you'll know this because when you lightly press on the pancake, it'll spring back to its original thickness). Better yet, the thick layer of azuki (red bean paste) gives the dorayaki just the right amount of sweetness.

dorayaki daruma

dorayaki daruma

Uhlandstr. 61, Berlin
U Hohenzollernplatz
Tel: 030 873 61 31

Monday, March 22, 2010

Ben & Jerry Waffles at Ben & Jerry's Scoop Shop

Ben & Jerry's Waffle and Ice

The long awaited spring will soon be here and I already can't wait for summer. In trying to make summer comes even faster, I went to eat some ice cream at Ben & Jerry's at Kastanien alle. I have high expectation for Ben & Jerry's Ice cream. After all, a lot of people rave about how good Ben & Jerry's Ice creams, and how fresh their waffles are.

So off I went to Kastanien alle to get something heavenly. But boy, was I dissapointed :(. Either it's not my lucky day or Ben & Jerry's Waffle simply sucks. The waffle was raw inside! Okay, they are freshly made but they don't taste freshly baked. As I ate the waffle, I can feel the waffle dough sticking to my teeth. I've tasted better (and fresh-er) Ice cream waffle at Kotti/Warschauer str. (I don't have any pictures since at the time I haven't started blogging, and now I forgot where the shop is. I guess perfect time to start wandering around the area again huh?)

And are they nuts? the combination of sweet ice cream (I chose strawberry cheesecake) with Chocolate sauce and more castor sugar is just wayyy to sweet! I can't even finish them. There was so much sugar in one dish that it's just nauseating. They also offer strawberry sauce, but I'm pretty sure that it's too sweet too. So if you like excess sugar, go ahead and get your sugar fix there. But personally, I'll stick to my favourite store made (not factory made like the one in Ben & Jerry 's) Ice cream from Franken&Grunewald.

How can something that looks so good can taste so bad?? :(

Ben & Jerry's waffle Berlin

Before I offend someone, the above post was my personal opinion and and I'm open for other ice cream suggestions. Hey, maybe I just chose the wrong Ice cream.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Shrimps with Petai aka Stink Beans

Shrimp and stink bean

One little secret here, even though I'm born Indonesian, I really suck at cooking Indonesian food. But I love to eat them because they're so flavorful and mouth watering! But they are really complicated, to make. You need to use a lot of fresh herbs and spices that has to be sliced/minced/ground finely. Since fresh Asian ingredients in Berlin are super expensive, I usually grabbed those packages of ready made spices, use them, and then proudly announced that I cooked rendang (a beef stew that uses tons of spices) or Lodeh (vegetable stew). Needless to say, those dishes made from the instant spices were never good, and I stop cooking those complicated Indonesian food anymore. Until one day, I met a native Indonesian PhD student from Bandung who cook this tasty Shrimps with stink beans. She swears that it's easy, so I decided to trust her and try her recipe.

She was so right, It was simple and it taste really good too. I never know that Indonesian food can be made with so little ingredients! And maybe, just maybe, I will make more Indonesian food in the future. But maybe not so near the future since I don't know when I'm gonna find more easy recipes like this.

On a side note, stink beans are kind of an acquired taste. It requires a serious getting-used to. My sister's boyfriend (he's American) tried one when he was in Indonesia. His first reaction was to crinkle his face really bad (imagine someone who ate a very sour lemon) and he then said that it tasted like "somebody just farted in my mouth". Needles to say he didn't take another one. So for those of you who are scared to try it, just ignore this recipe, but stink beans-lovers, rejoice; for this is the perfect recipe for you.

So for Ms. Riny Paraphat from Bandung, Thank you so much for your recipe!

Shrimp and stink bean

Shrimps with Stink Beans

- 500 gr shrimps skinned
- 1 pack petai (stink beans) slice thinly
- 3 dried chillies (fresh one is even better, but I don't have them handy)
- 3 - 5 lime leaves

- 2 Tbs sambal Oelek (put more if you like your food spicy)
- 5 shallots or 1 big red onion, finely sliced
- some pureed tomato from tin or 1 tomato finely minced
- salt and sugar to taste
- vegetable oil
  • heat vegetable oil and saute shallots. Once the shallots start to brown, put in petai and shrimps. Stir fry until shrimps are cooked
  • put in tomato puree, lime leaves and dried chillies
  • put in salt and sugar to taste
  • if necessary add one cup water and cover
  • let it simmer until sauce is thickened
Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tiramisu at Cafe Bilderbuch

Isn't "Cafe Bilderbuch" a pretty name for a cafe? It literaly means "Picture Book Cafe". The first time I've heard of this name, I imagined a cute classic cafe which sprang right out of my old Enid Bylton books.

To my delight, I found that "Bildurbuch" fits the cafe perfectly! There's a grandfather's clock at the back of the cafe, and a comfortable granny's couch (you know, those fifties old couch) on the right side of the cafe. I wonder, if the couch has really been there since the fifties? And of course there's some simple wooden tables and chairs that's not modern or even stylish. They're more convenient than they are pretty. But still, this cafe has its own charm.

Cafe Bilderbuch is not a place where the hippest and the most stylish hangs out, but It's a comfy place that makes you feel like you are sitting in your dear old aunt's living room. And the service are exactly like that. They never shoo their guests out of the cafe. Basically you can just order one cup of milchcaffee and sit the whole evening there.

Tiramisu Cafe Bilderbuch

When I went there, I order a tiramisu and a milchcaffee, but they also serve breakfast until midnight. So if you suddenly crave for scrambled egg for dinner, here is the place you should visit

Here's the picture of the tiramisu and the milchcaffee. The three "newspapers" you see on the left side of the picture are the menu of the week. That's how Cafe Bildurbuch print out their menus. Besides the menus, in the papers were stories and articles about things that happened around the area and about the people who visit their cafe.

Cafe Bilderbuch

Cafe Bilderbuch
Akazienstraße 28
10823 Berlin
030 78706057

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Crossing bridge rice noodle soup 过桥米线

Once upon of time in China, there was a pair of newlyweds who lived in a two different cities. The cities were separated by a river, but they are connected by a stone bridge The couple were separated because the husband must study for the imperial exam. So when he pass the exam, he can be a scholar and bring home glory and honor.

So every single day, the pretty and virtuous young wife will take a basket of food and then carry them across the city and cross the bridge to serve home-made lunch for her darling one . But as the days grew colder, it was getting more and more impossible to serve warm food for the husband who's a picky eater. And back then, there were no microwaves or heat-isolating lunch boxes. So the culinary skills of the young wife was tested. Being as a smart as she was, she came out with a great idea on how to bring her husband a warm meal. She cooked hot soup and she covered them with a lot of vegetable oil on top. Because vegetable oil helped to isolate the heat of the soup, she made sure that the soup stay warm. Along with the soup she prepared rice noodles, vegetables and meats.

Once she met her husband, she took out the soup and mixed in the meats, veggies and rice noodles into the warm soup. And this is how she made sure that she can keep on serving warm meals to her husband. The dish she prepared became really famous in the Yunnan area and thus it is named as the "crossing bridge rice noodle soup" (过桥米线, guo qiao mi xian).

Okay enough of story and fable, there is only one restaurant that sells the crossing bridge rice noodle soup in the entire Berlin. And again you can find it in Dodeli China Restaurant at Kantstraße (Remember? I blogged about their beef noodle soup)

crossing bridge rice noodle berlin

When you order the rice noodle soup, you will get a bowl of soup, three types of meats: duck, pork and lamb, veggies such as bok choys, pickled sour vegetables, and crushed walnuts & peanuts on a tray. Before you can eat the noodle soup, first you have to add in the meats, especially the thinly sliced lambs (they're raw, so remember that add them in first). The heat from the soup will cook the lamb (the soup is really hot but you won't see the smoke because of the oil). Next, you add in veggies and finally, you add in the noodles. And Voila! it's ready to eat, but don't forget to blow on the noodles! I ate the hot & spicy flavored broth, but they also serve other flavors such as seafood, vegetarian and chicken broth.

guo qiao mi xian

guo qiao mi xian

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

dried scallops & thousand year egg porridge

Porridge century egg

When you catch a cold or just feeling under the weather, do you have any specific food cravings? I do! And I always crave for porridge - chicken, pork or even plain porridge with side dishes. I think it's a Chinese thing. Kinda like the Americans who swears by chicken soup, we believe that when one is sick, one shouldn't eat greasy, fried food. Instead, one should eat light and soft food. Which is why porridge is our staple "sick" food.

It's been really cold here (it snows in March) and I caught a cold last week. So to battle my flu, I made some porridge from the dried ingredients I have in my pantry. This is why I always have these ingredients handy just in case I need them, so that I don't have to go out to buy them. I love convenient food. And here is the recipe to the porridge:

thousand year and scallops porridge

Dried Scallops & thousands year egg porridge
3 dried scallops (Gon Poy)
3 dried shrimps (I use dried tiger prawns w/ head & tail which my mom bought from China)
1 thousands year egg (Pi dan)
1 piece Ginger
1 piece Garlic
salt & white pepper
sesame oil
a-day-old cooked rice, if you are a gourmet, use uncooked rice. My mom swears that a good porridge needs to be cooked from scratch. Since I can't tell any difference, I never bother
  • The dried scallops and shrimps actually needs to be re-hydrated for hours but I never bother, so I cook them directly in boiling water. After they soften, I took them out and chop them into fine pieces. So I basically killed two birds in one stone.
  • Put in the chopped seafood and rice into the seafood broth and let them boil
  • Slice ginger into fine stripes and mash garlic into fine puree and put them into the cooking porridge
  • Pour in more water if the water start to dry up
  • Cook the rice until the porridge has the right consistency. I like my porridge watery and very fine. Some like them thick, so be your own judge
  • Season with salt, white pepper & sesame oil
  • If necessary put in some chicken powder to give the umami flavour
  • You can also put some finely sliced scallions as garnish, but when I made this, I don't have any with me, so I omit them

Sunday, March 7, 2010


boiled soy bean pod

I'm not even sure whether I can even call this a recipe. You basically need to boil the Edamame in salt water and lightly salt them again after that. But I'm still going to give you this recipe anyway because boiled Edamame is so damn tasty! You can get a pack of frozen edamame for a mere €1.80 in Vinh-Loy Asia Markt. And with just one pack, you can serve at least 5 plates of healthy soy beans! Psst a secret, almost all Japanese restaurant in Berlin do serve boiled frozen Edamame from Asian market and they charge you around €3.00 for a plate of teeny weeny edamame appetizers. A friend of mine who work in a small but well established Japanese Restaurant in Zehlendorf told me this.

So forget those high calories potato chips when you want a quick snack. Instead grab on these boiled edamame when you want to munch on something during sport matches :P

Boiled edamame

1/2 package frozen edamame
salt (sea salt is even better since it will give you a salty crunch when you bite into them)

  • Heat water in a pot and salt them (This is to retain the greenness of the soy bean pod)
  • Once the water boils put in the frozen edamame
  • Reboil and sieve the water
  • Lightly salt the edamame and serve

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Bun Cha at Dong Xuan Center

Unlike every other major cities in the world, there is no Chinatown in Berlin, in fact there is no Chinatown at all in Germany. There used to be a small china town in Hamburg back in the 30s. But the Nazis deported the Chinese who resided there back to China and since then, there was no development of any Chinatown at all in Germany. Recently in Berlin, Kantstraße is developing into a China Street, but it's still a long way away from a real established Chinatown like the one in San Francisco.

However, even though we don't have a "real" China town in Berlin, we do have a little Vietnam in Lichtenberg. It basically consists of three old factories, which are divided into little shops. Then voila! and we got ourselves a so called shopping center. The moment you enter this place, it's as if you step into a different world. Forget Schnitzel and Sauerkraut! This is a place where Pho, Bun Cha and Ban Chuon reign!

The reason I visit Dong
Xuan Center is to eat Bun Cha at Duc Anh Restaurant in hall 3 (and not to shop cheap clothes or shoes imported from Asia). The most common Vietnamese dish in Berlin is actually Pho (rice noodles in clear beef broth). You can find them everywhere in the city and I must say they are very tasty and I love them especially in cold winter. But then again my most favourite Vietnamese dish is Bun Cha. Bun Cha is grilled pork slices in nuoc nam (sweet and sour sauce made with fish sauce, vinegar and sugar) served with thin rice noodles and tons of fresh herbs and salads.

Naturally, there are other restaurants in Berlin that sell Bun
Cha, but most of them just deep fried the pork instead of grilling them. Mind you, you can't mimic the smokiness taste and smell of charcoal grilled pork just by deep frying them. Moreover some restaurants even serve poorly made Nuoc Nam (psst they diluted the fish sauce!). So if you love grilled meat with sweet and sour sauce, I strongly recommend Dong Xuan Centar on Hall 3. For only €5 you get a bowl of pork, a plate of rice noodles and heaps of salad and herbs.

buncha Dong xuan center Berlin

Duc Anh
Dong Xuan Center Hall 3 (the first shop on the left)
Herzbergstr. 128-139

One more thing, if you already take the time to ride all the way to Lichtenberg, don't forget to visit the Vietnamese supermarket directly across the restaurant. It's still in Hall 3. But it's a must visit because they sell a lot of fresh Vietnamese goodies such as glutinous rice balls that's coated with sesame seed and filled with sweetened mung bean (Onde in Indonesian, Banh Ran in Vietnamese & Ma Yuan 麻圆 in Chinese)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hot and sour soup 酸辣湯

Hot and sour soup

Every Chinese restaurants or "imbiss" sell hot and sour soup. I'm really confused however, on how in the world they turn hot and sour soup into tomato-red in color... makes you wonder where do they get their recipe doesn't it? And by "they", I really mean all the "imbiss". I mean, I've been to all over Germany (Münich, Ulm, Hannover and Stuttgart) and the hot and sour soup they sell all look the same! The real authentic hot and sour soup is actually clear or milky-white in color that comes from the egg drop. While the hotness of the soup is from white pepper and not red chili (I guess that's why they're selling "red" hot and sour soup. To show that its "spicy")

This soup is actually very simple to make. In fact, I always have the ingredients ready in my pantry . Thus I call this dish my emergency soup. The only time-consuming process in making this soup is actually preparing the ingredients, since they all need to be cut into fine strips.

This recipe is requested by YK, and just for her, here it is:
suan la dang ingredients

Hot and Sour Soup ( 酸辣湯/suan la tang)
100 gr Chicken breast, cut into fine strips
1 handful ear wood mushroom (mu er), soaked in hot water and julienned
1 handful Shitake mushroom, soaked in hot water and julienned
1 handful dried lily buds, soaked in hot water and cut into half
1/2 block firm tofu, julienned
1 egg, squirreled
Chicken stock powder
Black vinegar
light soy sauce
white pepper powder
sesame oil
vegetable oil/peanut oil
handful of sichuan pepper corn
5 dried chilli

  • marinade chicken strips with salt, pepper and sesame oil, add 1 tbs starch, mixed well and let it sit for 30 minutes in the fridge
  • prepare chili oil: heat vegetable oil in high heat until it start to smoke. pour in sichuan pepper corn and dried chili (caution: your kitchen is going to smell like hot pepper so open the window). Or you can skip this step and buy yeo's chili oil in asia market
  • Pour the chili oil in a cup and set aside
  • Use 2 tbs chili oil you just made and sautee the chicken strips in them. Use a spatula to separate the chicken (this is how you get those fine stripes)
  • Transfer chicken strips into a pot and add in water (or chicken broth if you have them)
  • Quickly add in ear wood mushroom, shitake mushroom and lily bud mushroom until the soup starts to boil. Add chicken stock powder (skip this step if you used chicken broth)
  • Once the soup boils add in tofu stripes
  • In a cup, mix black vinegar, light soy sauce and white pepper (be generous with the white pepper, like I said the hotness comes from white pepper)
  • pour the sauce into the soup and taste, you might need to add soy sauce or black vinegar depending if you need more saltiness or acidity.
  • Pour in the squirreled egg into soup, while pouring, stir the soup in a motion. With this simple step you made fine stripes of egg flower
  • In a different cup, dilute 1 Tbs starch with water
  • Turn off the heat and add the starch solution into the soup, starch solution helps to thicken the soup.
  • Add some drops of sesame oil and chili oil to add some aroma to the soup
It might sounds complicated, but actually the process of cooking is only about 15 minutes. The rest is only preparation. By the way, feel free to add in bamboo shoots or Zha Cai (chinese mustard vegetables).

I sometimes recycle the leftovers soup by adding noodles into the soup, turning them into 酸辣湯面 (suan la tang mian) -> hot and sour soup with noodle. A simple trick to use when I want a quick meal, but sick of instant noodle.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

*Updated* Stew minced pork and egg

Six months ago, my brother can't even fry a decent sunny-side-up egg. Recently, he made this minced pork and egg over rice (using my recipe :D) and sent me this picture. I hope our mom will be proud when she read this. After all, her youngest child is finally grown up (from cooking for himself.. hahaha). I'm also gonna quote my sister who said that this was proof that Gusteau (From Ratatouille) is right... "Everyone Can Cook!"

lu rou fan

Here's a recipe for my bro who recently bought cheap minced meat and asked me for the simplest recipe possible. So as per request, here's an even more simplified recipe (I omitted some ingredients that I know he doesn't have in his dorm) I gave him.

Simple minced pork and egg stew

1 bulb onion, peel and cut into tiny pieces
200 gr minced pork
2 eggs, boiled and peel
5 - 8 Tbs light soy sauce (it depends on the brand of your soy sauce, korean soy sauce is not so salty, chinese brand is saltier but indonesian soy sauce is the saltiest)
2 Tbs dark mushroom soy sauce
10 Tbs indonesian sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)
oil to pan fry
white pepper to taste
  • heat vegetable oil on pan and sautee onion. Once they turn brown, add the minced meat and stir fry
  • season with soy sauce (for taste), dark mushroom soy sauce (for colour), sweet soy sauce (for the sweetness).
  • add the eggs into the meat and pour in 2 cups of water into the mixture.
  • stew for 30 minutes so that the eggs can absorbs the sauce. Don't forget to flip the eggs to get a complete brown surface.
  • Add water if needed (i.e. if all of the water evaporated).
  • put pepper to taste and It's not necessary to salt this dish. The saltiness comes from the soy sauce. Add in some sugar, if it's not sweet enough for your taste.
This dish is a bit on the sweet side since that's how our mom used to make it. So following the tradition, here is a sweet minced pork and egg stew. By the way feel free to add in button mushroom or shitake mushroom. This dish is so versatile, you can have it with both rice or noodle. Pour the meat with the sauce onto some rice and you got lu rou fan (stewed meat over rice), pour the sauce onto noodle and garnish with boiled bok choy and you got noodle with pork sauce