Chanoy Honeymoon: Berlin, November 2015

Note – photo gallery at the bottom of this post.

One key thing that most countries don’t do well is to teach future generations about the mistakes of their own past, to ensure that certain atrocities never happen again. The focus is on the mistakes made by other countries, and the glories of their own history. It’s shameful that Australia doesn’t do more in teaching about the Stolen Generation, or that Japan doesn’t talk about their actions during events like the Rape of Nanjing, or America doesn’t acknowledge the full effect of colonisation on their native people.

Germany is different, and it’s one of the most impressive things about them. There’s a lot to be ashamed about what happened in World War Two, and the effects of the Nazi regime. In addition to that, there’s the ongoing effects of a country divided by the Iron Curtain that are still being reconciled today.

For today’s leaders, acknowledgement and recognition of their past is key to ensuring that it never happens again. Students are taught their history in school – not just once, but every year. There are memorials, museums, and remnants of the past all over Berlin (and other cities) that are completely free to enter as they don’t wish for there to be any barrier to people learning more about their history. Oral histories are recorded, preserved, and made available for future generations.

Most importantly, they’ve chosen to remove any possible memorial or pilgrimage point for Neo-Nazis. There is no former key locations of Adolf Hitler’s life left as a memorial. Even the bunker where he committed suicide with his wife Eva Braun has now been filled in with concrete and turned into a parking lot for an apartment building. The message is clear – Germany does not condone the repetition of history’s mistakes.

For the above reasons, Berlin is a wonderful city to visit if you’re a history buff. There’s a hundred museums dedicated to these various points in their history, and most offer free entry. That’s not to say that it’s a city that lives in the past without looking to the future though. A famous writer once said that “Berlin is a city doomed to always becoming, and never being”. That’s certainly the case – twenty-five years later, they’re still working on rebuilding the city to better integrate East and West, and there are continual building works happening around the city.

It’s a cool city as well, home to many artists, designers, musicians, and creators in search of a friendly creative environment. The areas of Neukolln and Kreuzberg are central to the creative heart of Berlin, and it’s well-worth spending some time walking around these areas just soaking in the atmosphere…and the smoke, as there’s no smoking bans in Berlin and everyone puffs away like a chimney!

We had a few good meals while we there – a Sunday brunch buffet at Café Morgenland and a Japanese lunch at Udon Kobo Ishin amongst them. We also joined K’s cousin at a local Italian restaurant for pizza (Il Casolare) and at a little Korean fried chicken joint (Angry Chicken). The casual street food scene is big in Berlin – there are kebabs on every corner, as well as the Berlin classic the currywurst.

While Berlin is a great city for a visit, I have to say that I prefer the smaller community vibe of Munich over Berlin. It’s a lot easier to get lost amongst a sea of faces or a cloud of smoke in Berlin, whereas in Munich, there’s always someone who’s ready to give you a smile.

Review: Udon Kobo Ishin, Berlin Germany

You never realise what you might end up missing until you spend a lengthy period of time away from home. I knew I would come to miss simple pleasures like a large bowl of pork and chive dumplings, or opening a packet of Tim Tams, but I never thought I would miss things like having a good ole Aussie Four and Twenty meat pie. Surprisingly, I do!

One of the things I definitely missed was having a hot bowl of meaty ramen or udon, something that I would probably have at least once a fortnight when in Australia. Yet, as much as I wanted to walk into a Japanese restaurant somewhere sometime during our trip through Europe, I did find myself questioning the authenticity of said restaurants when they also offered bibimbap, pho, chicken chow mein and pad thai as well.


I lucked out in Berlin though! I did a bit of research online into Berlin expat food blogs, and found a few recommendations for a new-ish restaurant called Udon Kobo Ishin, which was reputed to offer the largest bowls of udon anywhere in Berlin. That sounded good to me, so off we went for lunch one day after a sobering morning at the Berlin Wall Memorial.


There’s a few smaller tables for groups, but the restaurant is mostly kitted out in large communal tables. This makes it comfortable for almost any type of diner – couples like us can find seats together, larger groups can sit together, and solo diners can find a spare chair anywhere as well.


The fragrant green tea is complimentary and refillable from a DIY hot water urn near the counter. If you prefer a more refreshing beverage, they also had a range of Japanese soft drinks available. Given the cold and rainy weather outside though, the hot green tea was the perfect warming drink.

Niku Udon, 9.60 Euro
Niku Udon, 9.60 Euro

There’s a few different options on the menu, from Japanese curry to donburis and sushi sets. We were there for the udon though, and chose the Niku Udon, a simple udon topped with cold thinly-sliced pork, and grated radish and sliced shallots. This simplicity was just what I needed to satify my cravings – a clean, clear porky broth, freshly home-made udon noodles with a bit of chew to them, and flavourful pork. Nothing beats a simple udon in satisfying cravings!


While the udon does come in a regular sized bowl, we had to go for the larger size – I remembered the online reviews about the largest bowl of udon in Berlin! As you can see, modelled by K in this photo, this truly was a massive bowl…though a bit deceptive because there was quite a bit of broth in the bowl and not as much udon as you may have thought!

Take Menu, 13 Euro (7 Nigiri, 6 Maki, 2 Futo-Maki)
Take Menu, 13 Euro (7 Nigiri, 6 Maki, 2 Futo-Maki)

We decided to also share a sushi set, as I was also craving sushi – another dish I have so regularly in Australia, that to go for two months without it in Europe was a real hardship. Unfortunately, this wasn’t quite the same – the sushi rice flavouring was a little bit off, and the cuts of fish that they used in the nigiri seemed to be quite rough.

They were not at all like the creamier pieces of sushi fish that we get in Australia, and I think the reason for that may come down to fishing practices – there’s a certain method to catching and killing sushi fish. You can’t for example, just buy any piece of salmon and expect to turn it into salmon nigiri.  The salmon has to be caught in a certain way, and killed almost immediately so that the lactic acid created by their panic at being out of the water doesn’t destroy the integrity of the flesh.

Still, when it comes to satisfying a craving, this was not a bad choice.

Overall, I can highly recommend Udon Kobo Ishin as a decent Japanese restaurant to visit in Berlin, should you find yourself craving a hot bowl of udon. The sushi is slightly less impressive, but still probably one of the better and cheaper options in Berlin. The prices in the restaurant are very reasonable, though service can be a bit slow and haphazard.

Udon Kobo Ishin is located at 1 Litfaßplatz, Berlin.

Review: Cafe Morgenland, Berlin Germany

As a child, the one thing that I knew about Berlin and its relation to food was the ‘Berliner’ donut…and the only reason I knew about that was because of my unhealthy obsession with reading about the glamourous Kennedys. JFK’s infamous “Ich bin ein Berliner” statement of his status as Berliner, or a sugared doughnut on his visit to Berlin in 1963 has gone down in history.


What I know now, is that a Sunday brunch buffet is a new tradition in the city of Berlin. Many cafes and restaurants will open on Sunday for a day-long ‘brunch’ buffet, where for only about 10 Euro per person, you can go and eat to your heart’s content. One of the most popular of these cafes is Café Morgenland in Kreuzberg, where K and I headed for our own experience of the Berlin Sunday Brunch. We got there just after it opened for the day and were just lucky enough to get a table. If you arrive later in the day, be prepared to wait for at least half an hour to get a table!


We started off with a tall glass of freshly squeezed Orange Juice each – not cheap at 5 Euro (especially as the buffet is only 10 Euro per person!), but I suppose that’s how they make their money – if they lose a bit on the food, they make it back in the drinks! Still, given how large the glass was, and how sweet yet tart the orange juice was, it was worth what we paid.


The buffet itself is situated in a room just off the main dining area, in what seems to be a bridging room between the dining room and the kitchen. There’s a window from this room into the kitchen, where you can see the chefs prepare more platters of food for the buffet. The space is small and crowded – so there’s no time to stand back and contemplate what you want to try, you have to make some snap decisions!


There’s not much in the range of hot food in this brunch buffet – cold foods are definitely the highlight. There’s a range of cheeses, from sliced Emmental to wedges of soft brie and chunks of smelly blue cheese. There’s a large range of sliced meats – mortadellas, salamis, hams. There’s a range of salads as well – garden salads, pasta salads, cous cous salads.


There’s a large selection of baked goods to choose from – mainly a variety of simple bread rolls rather than sweet pastries. I was confused about why people would just choose to have plain white bread, then I saw this display of tapenades – clearly the bread is really just a vehicle to try these tapenades! Olive, tomato, capsicum, beetroot, tuna…there’s a few to try!


The cereal table was surprisingly popular as well, though I personally wouldn’t bother with generic Fruit Loops and Coco Pops at a buffet when there’s more exciting foods to try!


The little hot food available was made up of grilled chicken wings and frankfurts, wedges, and eggs cooked a few different ways. I wouldn’t normally buy or eat frankfurts at home in Australia, but I did get a bit addicted to them while I was in Germany and Copenhagen – hot dogs are just done so much better there than at home!


To finish off the buffet on the sweeter note, there’s a table of fruits and fresh yoghurts as well. Strangely enough, they also offer a dish of sliced bananas drizzled with chocolate sauce…it almost makes sense? I avoided that though, and just finished off my meal with a plate of fresh cut fruit to cleanse the palate.

Café Morgenland offers a pretty comprehensive cold buffet for an extremely reasonable price. The hot buffet is less impressive, but by the time you try a little bit of each of the cold dishes available, you can barely fit in the hot food anyway. I can see why it’s a popular brunch spot for Berlin locals, with large families and groups of friends all dining together in the small and crowded restaurant. I’d definitely recommend going to Café Morgenland on a Sunday if you’re keen on having a Berlin brunch buffet experience!

To finish off this post, here’s a few photos of the few dishes that K and I managed to sample off the buffet…we were absolutely stuffed by the end of our meal!





Cafe Morgenland is located at 25 Skalitzer Strasse, Berlin.