Sticks ‘n’ Sushi in Berlin

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Just a few steps from Andreas Murkudis and Acne Studios, there’s the two-storey heaven called Sticks ‘n’ Sushi. Although I rarely go to restaurant chains, this one from Copenhagen is an absolute exception. Opened more than a year ago in Berlin, this place has the most refined sushi (and other Japanese specialties) in the city. From the signature rice paper rolls and beef tataki with yuzu sauce to wagyu tartare and the most sensational versions of maki, Sticks ‘n’ Sushi pleases with freshness and inventiveness. Also, I really love the atmosphere in here, which makes me think of New York and those crowdy, stylish Sex & The City-like restaurants. If only the prices could be slightly lower! Still, they’re totally justified, as the quality of every single plate is perfect. And that matcha for dessert…

If looking for something more ‘casual’, but equally good in Berlin, go to Sasaya (good luck with booking a table there, though…).

Potsdamer Straße 85 / Berlin

All photos by Edward Kanarecki.

Sasaya

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Ok, let’s make this clear: Sasaya is the best Japanese restaurant in Berlin. It’s just so pure in taste, and so Japanese in everything, from the simple interior to the way the asparagus tempura is served on ceramics plates (which are sold together with delightful pottery and rare sake next to the restaurant space). Sasaya doesn’t only serve sushi – which is perfect – but as well other traditional dishes and tastes like the tsukemono (pickled vegetables), the takana (fried vegetables), dashi broth or the kukiwakame (seaweed). The gyoza stick is a great addition to your portion of maki and nigiri, while green tea cake with matcha macchiato is an ideal desert (at least for me!). Really, Sasaya won’t disappoint those who look for Japanese cuisine, not some kind of philadelphia-cheee-stuffed hybrid.

Photos by Edward Kanarecki.

Marubi Ramen in Berlin

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First of all, I have never been to Japan, so I don’t know how the real, real ramen soup tastes. I’ve watched The Ramen Girl (a sophisticated comedy about a woman searching for direction in her life through training to be a ramen chef under a tyrannical ramen master, mind you) and I realise that Europeans have a very wide and imaginative view on ramen’s taste. But I think that Berlin’s Marubi is a spot, where the authentic ramen might be served. Prepared in four ways (beef, pork, shrimp or vegetarian), their warm bowl of Japanese goodness tastes simply delicious. Located in Mitte, the place seems to be out of the local fuss – no fancy interior, no big media appearance. Just ramen. And a equally great selection of dim-sum and gyoza dumplings.

Zenkichi Berlin

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There is a widespread affiliation that if a restaurant serves Japanese cuisine, then it should have sushi in its menu. However, Zenkichi restaurant in Berlin is an exception, as they call themselves a Japanese brasserie – so, there is a focus on variety of Japanese dishes, which is often missed in other “Japanese” restaurants. Zenkichi experience starts at the very entrance to the place – it’s literally a bamboo maze, and every table is hidden in traditional, slightly lighted mini-rooms, with blinds which are put down by the waitress. In other words, I was quite sure that this is what you feel in this type of place in Japan – intimacy, tranquility, peace. This foreshadowed only the good, and indeed, my intuition was right.

The food, served like art, was unbelievably… I don’t how to describe this level of deliciousness. Their seasonal small plates, which are popular among Tokyoites, are recommended to share, while emphasis is put on Omakase (chef’s tasting menu) – it changes every season to showcase the best fish and vegetables available in the market. During my last visit to Zenkichi, I ordered three dishes – sashimi  of fish of the day (salmon, scallop and yellow tail tuna), thinly sliced organic beef tataki served with soy sauce and the one and only hiyashi tsukimi udon – my favourite. This one is quite sophisticated, though – udon noodles in bonito dashi broth, with wakawe seaweed, a soft organic egg (!) and wasabi. Served chilled. Heaven, noting that I’m a number one fan of Japanese pasta!

Drinks are as important as food at Zenkichi, with its rich assortment of rice wine and Japanese whisky. The menu of sake is long, and Zenkichi specializes in junmai, so the pure-rice ones. The free-of-additives sake is initially served cold, however Zenkichi believes that the warmth of the drinker’s hands makes the taste “blossom”, like a cherry tree. Myth? Nope. I totally agree with them, after trying myself.

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If you’re in Berlin, and you are obsessed with Japanese cuisine just like me (but want to try something more than sushi, though) – Zenkichi is the place for you. A must, if you ask me!

Johannisstraße 20 / Berlin