If you were to randomly Google top Berlin eats you’ll encounter delights like the eponymous currywurst[1] (dodot!) and the (Austrian) wiener schnitzel – which I would love to *koff* try if there were boleh makan options/versions. I had only a few days in the city when I visited back in July and as much as I’d love to scour Berlin for a halal currywurst, I had to make do with whatever place was nearby to me at that time.

Those of you who know me, I am not one for kebabs when travelling abroad as I can easily find one five minutes from my house. However, it is said that the döner kebab had evolved into a distinctive Berlin must eat. So, there’s one sure item on the list. I was recommended Zaddy’s by a friend. Kebab places are aplenty in Berlin but this one on Tauentzienstraße is a 10-minute walk from the hotel. I had read the queues can get a bit long during peak times, so I swung by this hole-in-the-wall on this somewhat posh neck of the city.

Zaddy’s menu comprises a couple of meal sets for one person, as well as larger orders, all with fries and drink. I opted for the most basic option called the Kappy which comprised a generous serving of beef döner in crispy toasted bread or durum pitta. They had a selection on salads (tomato, iceberg lettuce, onion and red cabbage) and sauces (chilli, garlic mayo, curry, sweet sour and spicy) reminiscent of the ones you get in Blighty. Verdict? The döner meat was not soggy or oily, and when eaten with the mixture of the chilli and garlic sauces with contrasting texture of the toasted bread, I dare say that this was simply the best kebab I’ve had in my life. Try it out if you’re walking along Kurfürstendamm. This was the only outlet when I visited Berlin, but they should have two other by the time you read this post.

Tauentzienstraße 13
10789 Berlin
Nearest U-bahn station: Wittenbergplatz
Opens Mon-Sat, 1000-2300 (2400 on Sat)

I love coffee, and as I wanted to grab some breakfast, and having to limit the distance traveled on this one day of sightseeing, this meant a limited number of eateries was available for me to choose from. I was reading this article online and decided to head to westberlin, an art/media café on Friedrichstraße. Something interesting happened the day I visited, though.

The café was busy when I got there ten-ish but it was not difficult to get a table. They had a selection of sarnies, salads and cakes as well as coffee. I ordered a quiche and a flat white and within 5 minutes of taking my seat waiting for my order, the whole street blacked out. The patrons were slightly surprised and I noted some of the staff making phone calls to the energy board. My quiche arrived but as the power was down they couldn’t make any coffee. The quiche was all right, but as I was here to try out the coffee, I couldn’t help but be a little bit disappointed. I queried as when they were likely to get any electricity back, and as it wouldn’t be for a while, they apologised and refunded the price of my flat white. Do try them out, they made the list in the recommendations so the coffee should be good.

Friedrichstraße 215
10969 Kreuzberg
Nearest U-bahn station: Kochstraße
Opens daily, 0830-1900 (opens 1000 on weekends)

Serendipitously, I came across this ice cream place called Paul Möhring in Oranienburger Straße after abandoning the queue to see/buy Danny Clinch’s Pearl Jam photos after the no go experience at westberlin earlier. They served coffee and I ordered a flat white (with fingers crossed) and a gorgeous looking cinnamon cake. The pleasant lass gave me a shout when my coffee was done, and it was superb, as was the cake. I guess this was a blessing in disguise. I liked the place – minimalist grey walls with wooden furniture, and most importantly, quiet. This place is about a few minutes walk from the museums on Museuminsel if you wish to check it out.

Oranienburger Straße 84
10178 Berlin
Nearest S-bahn station: Hackescher Markt
Opens daily, 0900-1900 (opens 1000 on weekends)

On this trip, I also made another chance discovery. I was on the way to the hotel after a long hot and sweaty S-bahn train ride from Schönefeld to Savignyplatz, I came across a sushi place called Sachiko. From where I was walking it did look like a nice place, and with it being within 5 minutes walk from the hotel, I could do with some sushi on my first day here. I did a quick online search for reviews and most of them were very complimentary. I wanted to catch the sunset at Brandenburger Tor when I decided to go get an early sushi dinner. Much to my disappointment, it was full until half nine (that was like a three-hour wait). I then decided to head off to Brandenburger Tor but dropping by a place called Risa (see below) for a, err… quick bite. By the time I was done taking photos at the gate, I returned to Sachiko at almost half ten. It was really quiet as I was the only patron. The waiting staff was friendly but I could tell they had a very busy evening. The sushi chef behind the counter was still there (he was there when I walked past the place in the afternoon!). The establishment is a kaitenzushi (conveyor belt) but without a conveyor belt. In its place was a waterway with little wooden boats carrying the sushi dish. There was a couple already floating by, but I ordered from the menu and the nigiri was placed on a boat and I just have to wait to pick the plate up. They had a good menu which included seasonal neta like hirame (flounder)[2].

Unfortunately, I was a tad satiated from eating at Risa but I soldiered on and ordered unagi (eel), sake (salmon), ika (squid) and meguro (tuna). The colour of the plates (blue, red, white, black and green – from 3.50€ to 5.50€, respectively) indicate the price of the sushi, as you do at a kaitenzushi. The fish was fresh, and the usage of what seems to be cress was interesting on the unagi. I actually returned two days later for a late lunch/early dinner and this time, the chef behind the counter was the owner himself. Once again, I was the only patron which meant I could have a conversation with the owner, Tilman Zorn, who is a New Yorker but learnt the trade in Berlin from a Japanese sushi chef. This time I had a bit more and managed to sample their hotate (scallop) and the superb hamachi (yellowtail). With this makan experience being untainted by a preceding meal, I dare say this was one of the best sushi, if not the best, I’ve ever had in Europe. Great neta-to-rice ratio and very fresh fish – if I remembered correctly, Tilman preferred Scottish salmon as compared to Norwegian. One of the few times I’d gladly be in the wrong country for the wrong cuisine.

Jeanne-Mammen-Bogen 584
10623 Berlin
Nearest stations: Savignyplatz (S), Uhlandstraße (U)
Opens Tue-Thu 1700-0000, Fri-Sat 1200-0000, Sun 1600-0000 (closed on Mondays)

After doing the rounds at Museuminsel, I thought of having a quick lunch, and my Lonely Planet book pointed me to Udon Obo Kishin. I did fancy a light souped udon dish but much to my surprise, I couldn’t see it in the menu. As I wanted to be quick, I relented and ordered a simple salmon donburi.

The donburi was all right, and then I finally realised from reading online reviews that they don’t do udon any more. Which explained why the place was only called Ishin when I visited. Online travel guide 1 – printed guide 0.

Litfaß-Platz 1
10178 Berlin
Nearest S-bahn station: Hackescher Markt
Opens 1200-1430, 1600-2130 (evenings only, on weekends)

On a final note, one never-go-wrong halal option when you’re in Berlin apart from kebabs, is the Risa chain of chicken restaurants. I went to this branch opposite Zoo Station, and you get bang for your buck. My chicken burger came with chicken filet fingers and an abundance of crispy fries. Absolutely yum.

I also learnt how to say sixty three (my order number) in German[3].

Hardenbergplatz 2
10623 Berlin
Nearest station: Zoologischer Garten (U, S)
Opens daily 0900-0100

[1]Err… sausage with sprinkled curry powder and a splash of ketchup, if I read it correctly.
[2]I was there at the wrong season for it.