My personal, random survey of Berlin’s food scene happily reveals at least as many Vietnamese eateries as Currywurst stands. This may or may not be an accurate observation, but a recent stay in Germany’s capital gave this impression, to the delight of my taste buds.
My first inkling of this came as I took in the view from the terrace in my serviced apartment at Flower’s Boardinghouse Mitte, at the district’s upper east end near Hackesche Höfe. The television tower Berliners call Tele-Spargel (TV-asparagus!) spiked above the horizon, but what caught my eye was the bustle at Monsieur Vuang just across the street.
The place was packed for both lunch and dinner every day (no reservations). It turns out this Southeast Asian eatery has cult status with locals and tourists alike. It’s lively—and loud—at Monsieur Vuang’s, and the seating is tight, so it may not have been the ideal place for a dinner reunion with an old friend. Our Vietnamese prawn rolls and chicken curries were light, well-seasoned, and plentifully portioned, though. We had a good time.
A few days later, I sat at Monsieur Vuang’s counter directly in front of several woks turning out aromatic and artfully presented dishes and colorful smoothies at a furious clip. My next-stool neighbor, a transplanted Glaswegian, slurped an enormous bowl of the day’s beef noodle special. I downed a portion of won ton soup and more of those delightful prawn rolls, as he extolled the virtues and plenitude of Berlin’s Vietnamese restaurants and food stalls. His personal favorite is Mr. Hai Friends at Savignyplatz, another trendy place. This one does take reservations, and looks to be worth a visit. Perhaps there is more pho bo in Berlin than Currywurst.
If, like me, you’re not into the chopped pig snouts and ears that can feature in Currywurst, but want to try something authentically Berlinesque, try Boulette with Bratkartoffeln, a Berlin burger plate with home-style fries. A good place for this is Restaurant Nolle, in the hopping Friedrichstrasse neighborhood.