Snacking late night in Berlin
I’m sorry if I confused anyone with my Germany posts, but the story is that I was in Berlin for two weeks to celebrate my grandmother’s 80th birthday (a big deal in Chinese culture I’m told). All of my paternal family is there, which just means I’m lucky enough to score free accommodation if I wanted, and it was really nice to see / catch up with my cousins again. Anywho, so all the posts from Germany are from that trip and this will be the last one.
I wanted to quickly blog about their version of our late night kebab and eat-at-any-time meat pie: the döner and the currywurst. They rank pretty high on my Favourite Food list and besides seeing my family again, generates a lot of excitement from both my brother and I whenever we go back to Berlin.
The döner is pretty much like a kebab, only all the usual fillings are placed inside a pocket of lebanese bread and the sauce they use (garlic or herb with chilli if you wanted) is I think what makes it so much tastier than our kebab (blasphemy I know, but it’s true!).
The bread they use is I think pita bread, where its thickness differs from store to store (though they all taste darn good), and the meat (dependent again on the store) is usually quite juicy and never chewy. The sauce I mentioned earlier is usually squeezed on with a heavy hand and when you take that first bite it comes squishing out onto your cheeks (okay, maybe it’s just me). I thought that the garlic sauce would over-power the other flavours, but it actually complements them with an added slight tang.
It’s kind of funny that our “normal” kebab, the rolled up version, is limitedly available – some stores don’t have them as they’re not all that popular. And why not? Because it’s not the “real” kebab – the real kebab is a döner (or so my cousin tells me). Some places use red cabbage instead of lettuce and get this, some places add stuff like corn in it! Weird, but strangely delicious still.
Interestingly, there is no chicken option, even at Hasir’s – the place where the döner was supposedly created/originated from in Berlin. Hasir’s can be seen as the fine dining of all döner places, charging a whopping 9,50 € for one, but some places charge as cheap as 2 €; we found that the average price for a döner is about 2,30 € and the difference is all in the quality of the meat and bread.
I asked my brother how he would rate the döners now compared to our last visit, he threw me a scornful look and said, “Five.” As if it could be anything less.
I can’t quite explain what it is that makes this so addictive and so satisfying. I mean, it’s simply cut up grilled sausage drowned in tomato sauce and sprinkled with paprika and curry powder.
Maybe it’s because the tomato sauce isn’t simply tomato sauce but has a secret ingredient in it. I bought a bottle of Tomato-Curry Sauce and tried to replicate the currywurst when I got back home to Sydney; so very close, but not quite the same… I think it doesn’t help that our sausages aren’t quite like the bratwursts they use.
Something I find quite interesting with the wursts in Berlin is that you can order your sausage with or without the skin, which my cousin tells me is usually made (still) from pig intestine. The skin around the currywurst is slightly tough, so there’s this slight resistance when you bite into one of the pieces before your teeth sinks down into soft, soft meat. I love smothering a piece with the tangy, slightly spicy sauce before popping them into my mouth for that blissful flavour bursting on my tongue: hearty meatiness, tartness of the tomato sauce, spice from the curry.
Currywursts usually go for about 1,20 € (cheapest I saw was 1 €, sold by a dude who had the grill strapped to his front), but at some tourist-heavy places it may be around 3 €. One of my favourite places to sate that currywurst craving is at Bier’s Kudamm 195. Located on Berlin’s main shopping strip, Kurfürstendamm (much like our George Street), Bier’s boast to be the first place to invent the currywurst, and sells them at 2,20 € each.
My brother gave the currywurst a 4.5 to 4.9 out of 5 stars, and I totally concur; while they were absolutely a joy to eat, they seem to have tasted better last time we were here and the döners seem to have gotten more tastier.
To be honest, I think Berlin has a better night food life than Sydney. Restaurants and small stores are open til crazy hours of the night all throughout the week – not just the weekends. Craving for Chinese on a Tuesday night at 1am? Pop down to Aroma, where the food is pretty decent and it’s pretty easy on your wallet by Berlin standards (grossly overpriced to our standards). The same goes for döner and currywurst places – and they’re usually open til much later.
Rasa Malaysia‘s comment on my last post of simple food being the more satisfying made me realise that of all food I’ve had when I was in Europe, it was these two that I remember fondly with smile on my face.
Ph: (030) 215 60 60
Bier’s Kudamm 195