Berlin is the home of currywursts, or at least that's what I read somewhere. As husband had escaped eating it the first time I wasn't about to let him get away again, so when we saw a stall outside KaDeWe we bought a serving of currywurst mit pommes frites. In the end though, we spent more time taking the picture than eating it. No, I am wrong, I did not even eat the currywurst, the sausage was as plastic as the forks I had no choice but to spit my first bite out.
Our guidebook did say though, that Curry 36 serves the best version in town. We duly made out way over to this area that doesn't have much of an attraction -well, other than a cemetery and as you probably know, Chinese people never visit cemeteries on holiday no matter how famous it is- save for this hallmark snack. It is easy to find, just take the underground to Mehringdamm and surprise, it's at number 36 along the road of the same name. Many others were already crowding the stall by the time we arrived.
Through the window we saw the sausages cooking. The sausages already have knicks cut into them which is interesting, I don't remember other stalls doing this step. And the sausages actually looked normal and hmm, appetising.
After standing for nearly 20 minutes under that big orb of deep-fried smoky oily miasma we finally emerged with a plate of currywurst mit pommes frites and a bottle of Coca-Cola and stood ourselves at one of the tall tables. Was it worth all our trouble? Yes, absolutely. The sausages were meaty and juicy with a nice snap when bitten into. The frites were quite OK, as in they were of the frozen type but freshly fried in an oil that didn't seem too stale, and were well salted throughout. The only thing I didn't like was the tomato ketchup, it had an offputing sandy mushy texture with zero taste. The curry powder that was sprinkled over both the ketchup-ed and unketchup-ed parts was also surprisingly not harsh or grainy, quite pleasant actually. In no time at all we had finished our snack, and husband even declared a liking for it.
After eating and drinking, we returned out empty bottle to the cashier and guess what? They returned us some coins. Incidentally, at home we're now back to drinking regular Coca-Cola now, the Diet/ Light version that we get in France tastes more chemical than cola so I thought it best to go for the real sugar version instead.
Another place that is worth mentioning is Monsieur Vuong. We kind of stumbled into this place while shopping in the Mitte area. Back home I googled the place and realized even the NYTimes had written about it. Anyway, we were shopping, and it was raining on and off, mainly on, and we were feeling a bit hungry because our early lunch of sushi and noodles a few street up were too spare. In that gloomy weather this cafe seemed like an oasis with its chill-pepper walls and tables crowded with people slurping noodle salads from big bowls.
Be careful also, if you visit their website, or if you take their free postcards, you will be confronted with the smirking grinning face of presumably, Monsieur Vuong. It could also be the same man who darts energetically around the cafe- short, over-muscled but older than the poster image. Not important really. The other waitstaff were young Germans, they seemed a bit harried but were helpful when communicating with customers.
It was crowded when we visited at the tail end of lunch time, as people came in to shelter from the rain. In one table, an old Chinese lady ate her noodles with dignified grace. In another, a group of earnest intellectual types drank their soy and health shakes, in yet another corner a strapping blond family with two mini-strapplings were handling their chopsticks with remarkable dexterity. We were lucky to snag a small table next to the bar, right in the middle of the room.
There's two types of noodles or rice salad compositions on the daily menu. Husband had the noodles with beef curry, I had the chicken with rice. I think. Honestly I can't remember the details now, but all in, it wasn't too bad. The curry components were mild yet fragrant with lemongrasses and herbs, and the heaps of raw vegetables on top would have been quite a nuisance to get through but we managed somehow. It was a welcome change from the Vietnamese joints of Paris which cannot be bothered to move on from their predictable menus, plastic tablecloths, garish figurines and offhand service.
The coffee was lovely, so was a beautifully trembly-silky smooth caramel flan speckled with sesame seeds. All warm and delicious inside, we were almost reluctant to leave, but the other customers were straining to get in so we dragged ourselves away, ready for more shopping.