Friday, April 30, 2010

Dürüm Kebab at Balli

There is a neighborhood in Berlin, Kreuzberg, that is also known as little Istanbul (Küçük Istanbul). And true to its name, this district is filled with Turkish bath, Turks-operated pizzaria, Turkish restaurants, Turkish bakeries & baklavari, Halal supermarkets. And if you pay attention, most of the apartments on the street of Little Istanbul boast Turkish names such as Aydin, Yilmiz and Yozuglu.

The Turks are the largest minority in Germany. This is because during the late 60s, large numbers of Turks were invited to come to Germany as guest workers to fill an acute labour shortage after WW II. Most of these Turkish workers eventually stayed in Germany and found their living here. No wonder some say that the best döner kebab, outside of Turkey itself, can be found in Germany.

With that said, my favourite Dürüm Kebab is located at Tempelhof and not Kreuzberg. Even though there are three, no sorry, five kebab booths right across the street from my apartment, my spouse and I willingly take that 30 minutes ride from my borough, Wedding, just to eat this Dürüm. Hey, Kreuzberg is not the only neighborhood filled with Turks.

For those who don't know, Dürüm is a type of Turkish wrap that's filled with finely sliced veggies (ice berg lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onion and sometimes red cabbage) and thinly sliced kebab meat. The wrap is made from wheat flour flatbread, similar in shape to the Mexican tortilla.

The Kebab in Balli is huge and I mean it. Here's a picture of it. Once I went there at midnight and they were putting in a new skewer and it was tremendous! It's twice the size of the skewer in the picture. I think they already sold half of the meat by the time I came.


And here is the oven they use to bake the turkish wrap, Yufka.


And here is the Dürüm Kebab. Btw my spouse and me only order one piece and we share it. And trust me, it's enough for the both of us. What I love about the dürüm in balli is that they don't skimp on the good stuff. Warm & big yufka, enough layers of kebab meat, A lot of crisp fresh salad AND they add french fries! I always squeal with joy everytime I bite into one. It feels like biting into surprises, Hey I always welcome something deep fried in my food.

Döner Kebab

To perfect this meal, I always asked for dried chilli flakes for an additional kick to the dürüm. And here is the picture of the restaurant in Tempelhof. Get ready to see a line of people queing in the store as I've never see them without customers.


Balli Tempelhofer Damm 146
U6-Alt Tempelhof

Sunday, April 25, 2010

China Restaurant Ho-Lee

Have you ever wonder where celebrities eat when they get to a new city? In all honesty, I never care about stuff like that, until I stumbled upon this Chinese Restaurant just accros KaDeWe (Berlin's equivalent of Harrods). And what do I found? Pictures of Jackie Chan on the wall!
Sorry for the blurry photo, I was in hurry. After all it's just something to tickle your interest

Jackie Chan

According to the boss (who came from HongKong), a few years ago, Jackie Chan came to Berlin to shoot his film "80 days around the world", and he frequented this restaurant to eat cantonese food. He visited this restaurant so often, that the boss and Jackie took oath as sworn brother.

Of course the first question that I asked was, "What did Jacky Chan ordered?" The waiter answered readily and point out to this dish from the menu:

stir fried pork with firm tofu with zha cai (pickled mustard plant 榨菜)

Ho Lee fried pork, tofu and green vegs

The verdict? It was the best dish of the night, the combination of the piquant zha cai with the flavorless tofu and the savory pork stripes was superb! However a friend of mine commented that it's something that you can make at home easily. He was right actually, I made this dish too at home and It was a success. Well I guess Jackie Chan was home sick and wanted something simple to remind him of home.

When I asked for other suggestions, the Cantonese waiter was a little bit annoyed and said I must asked precisely what I want. I couldn't, so I just randomly picked something out of their menu

Shrimp wonton

shrimps wan tan Ho lee

It's really just shrimp wontons. No other way to describe it but shrimp rolled inside wonton skin. Very minimalist.

Shui Zhu Yu 水煮魚 (Sichuan water boiled fish)

shui zhu yu Ho Lee

What was I thinking?! Ordering Sichuan food in a Cantonese restaurant. It really taste like fish boiled in water sans spices. Obviously, it lacks the typical numbing taste of pepper that all sichuan food have. A major dissapointment. I would still vote for Tian Fu's Shui zhu yu over this one.

Fuqi Feipian 夫妻肺片 Married Couple's Slices of Lung

fu qi fei bian Ho Lee

Again it's a famous Sichuan Cuisine, The combination of softly stewed beef slices and beef tripe was tasty, however again there's no comparison with Tian Fu's Fuqi Feipian,

One thing for sure, this restaurant was not something special, which makes me want to ramble it to everyone I know. But then again, maybe it's because I picked the wrong dishes that I didn't enjoy much. I mean Jackie Chan came to this restaurant a lot! That must count something. Maybe I'll visit them again and picked something else.

China Restaurant Ho-Lee
Bayreuther Strasse 44
10787 Berlin
Tel.: 030/23626274

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Welcoming Alobert as our second author

My dear cousin, Albert, who lives in Australia, is a very talented cook. I think this talent runs in the family. He specializes in cooking complicated fine western food. What's more, he really put in his labor of love to all his foods. When he's done cooking them, he'll arrange them in these photogenic ways. Another important fact about him is, he loves to indulge himself in expensive michelin star rated restaurants. Once he visited one of the best restaurant in Australia (forget the name) but the picture was great! I hope he visit another one soon and post them in this blog.

btw did I mention that he's not only a talented cook but also a gifted pianist and a hard working accountant (Bert, you do work as an accountant? aren't you?). Okay, it's not important, but I still want to mention it, as I want to imply that he's not a professional chef, like you and me, he's only passionate about his food.

Anyway after I start my blog, I've asked him once to contribute as a guest writer, he was excited about the idea and soon after that he keeps nagging me, when he should start. So today he officially accepted the invitation to become a member of "Craving for food". And I bet, we are going to read some posts on tasty looking food soon.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ishin Japanese Deli

Ishin Japanese Deli is not a place where you go to eat the best sushi in town. It's more like a place you go to find mediocre but cheap sushi. Even though the maki they serve are loosely wrapped with only two tiny piece of raw salmon inside (they even mixed in crab stick and canned tuna in their maki), I'm not gonna complain since my main reason of visiting Ishin is either to enjoy their Don (raw sashimi on rice) or their cey-ro (cooked fish on rice). Also they have free all-you-can-drink green tea. I'll never say no to that.

Here is Ishin's Unagi Cey-Ro (eel over rice)

Ishin Unagi Cey-ro

Ishin offers a variety of Don as their "specials of the week" for €5,00. For example on the week when I visited them. they have Tuna Steak on rice. I strongly recommend this one, it's such a bargain! You got 4 pieces of tuna with rice, and it's really one of the best food they serve on the menu.

Maguro steak with rice

Tuna Steak with rice

My favourite Don is the Barachi Don. It's marinated minced raw fish on warm rice. Unfortunately they took this item out of their Menu, and the only way you can get this dish is after 4:00 pm. I really think that they chop some leftover fish and serve it as a dish that way..

Ishin Barachi Don

Btw, if you are sushi fans, go to Ishin at their Happy Hour, which is mo-fr untill 4:00 pm or wed & sat. the whole day. Around that time you can get Ume Menue for €5,50 (reg
€7)and Take Menue for 9,00 (reg €12)

My spouse always order Sushi in Ishin so I have some photos for you guys to enjoy

Ume Menue

Ume Menu

Take Menue

Ishin Take Menue

Sake Menue

Ishin Sake Menue

Ishin Japanese Deli
Mittelstraße 24 10117 Berlin - Mitte
Telefon: 030 - 20 67 48 29
U+S Friedrichstraße

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

home-made Chinese dinner

I dedicate this post escpecially to my friend, Edo Leonardo. He was curious about my Easter dinner, so I told him that I only prepared some simple food. Regardless, he said, he wants me to cook it for him because he's really hungry. But, since he's so far away in Indonesia, he's going to have to make do with some pictures and a blog post instead of real cooked food. So here it is, especially for Edo.

Steamed halibut with julienned ginger and green onions

Okay, I cheated. I didn't steam it the traditional way. I simply wrapped the fish around some aluminum foil (which protect the fish from direct heat) and heated the fish in the oven. And you know what, there's no big difference, the fish was still juicy and mild. Together with Cantonese sauce of ginger, green onions and soy sauce, this dish is simply irresistible. On a side note, this dish was inspired by Jamie Oliver. He cooked one dish (which name I forgot) with a similar method, but he used different herbs.
steamed halibut

Braised pan-fried tofu with ginger and fresh garlic
Ok, please don't judge this dish from its picture. I know that it doesn't look appetizing, but trust me, the combination of tofu, ginger and garlic is a match made in heaven. I pan-fried the tofu first to give some crisp to the tofu skin. Then, I braised the tofu together with ginger, garlic and chicken stock, this is when the soft tofu absorbed all the goodnes. So you get a combination of crunchiness and the taste of spices.

pan fried tofu with ginger and fresh ginger

Egg flower soup with tomatoes and seaweed
Every house wife has their own combination for the egg flower soup with tomates. I like to mix in seaweed to give a taste of sea to the soup. So you don't only taste the boring sour taste of the tomatoes but there's also a combination of seaweed's umami.
egg drop tomato sea weed soup

Stir fried baby Cai Xin
What should I say to this dish. It's just a plain greens stir fried with garlic and salt
stir fried baby cai xin

Dinner for two, as I said, it was a simple home-made Chinese dinner, no fuss and all these four dishes was made in 30 minutes.

dinner for two

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Windbeutel with Baileys


Imagine putting some air into a pouch, then try to bite into said pouch. I bet you taste "nothing" :D.
Sorry for the joke, but that's what the name "
Windbeutel" implies. It means "wind pouch", and that's what you're suppose to feel when you bite into a windbeutel - it's light as air. I personally think that's a pretty name for a dessert.

Back in Indonesia, this cake is called "kue sus". I used to wonder, where the hell did this weird name came from? As far as I can tell, sus can means suster(nurse/abbey sister) and I kept wondering, what does a nurse has to do with dessert! Well now I know, It's all about history. Indonesia was colonised for 350 years by Hollands who brought a lot of food and culture into Indonesia and after so many years we just borrowed their foods and words into ours. So guess what is the dutch name for cream puff? Soesje!!! no wonder Indonesians call cream puff "kue sus"

I was never a fan of Indonesian kue sus. It was heavy on vanilla pudding and most of times after one piece I feel bloated. But my mom loves kue sus, so whenever she goes to a cake shop, that's the cake that she will always buy. I never ate them or when necessary I just took one and that's all.

But I love windbeutel, it's all about the cream as the filling. They are light (not in term of calories but in term of consistency) and if they are slightly chilled, it feels like biting into ice cream, yummy! Combined with Baileys Irish cream, they taste even better. For those who doesn't know, Baileys is an Irish whiskey and cream based liqueur.

I would love to give you a recipe for Cream puff with Baileys, but I can't! 'Coz I bought them from the freezer section in the supermarket. So lucky for those of us in Germany! we can buy them in any good supermarket. Those of you, who are not in Germany, keep on drooling!!

windbeutel mit baileys

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sichuan food at Tian Fu Restaurant

Five years ago, almost no one in Berlin has ever heard about Sichuan food. But today, you can find this spicy cuisine (which originates from a region in China) in practically every third Chinese restaurant in Berlin. But the title of "Pioneer in Sichuan food in Germany" belongs to Tianfu restaurant.

Even though Tian Fu is the first Sichuan restaurant in Berlin, IMHO, they don't retain their quality as they used to. Maybe they're trying to cut corners by using not-so-fresh ingredients? Or maybe they just change their chef? Either way, The Tianfu that I used to visit tasted better than it is today.

I would love to recommend another better sichuan restaurant in Berlin, but until today I still haven't found one, so everytime I have a crave for spicy, numbing food I still go to Tianfu.

Here are some food that I ate there.

Spiced tofu with coriander leaves, they are still good, however I feel that they cut down on the coriander leaves. I can't even taste them and it used to burst with the typical soapy taste of the cilantro.
coriander with tofu tian fu berlin

tofu skin salad, it's cold and plain, but is really refreshing after all of the spicy food

tofu skin salad

jellyfish salad, it's still good with chewy jelly fish and some acid from black vinegar

jelly fish salad

dan dan mian before mixing

dan dan mian before mixing

dan dan mian after mixing. they are still tasty but again in my humble opinion, I feel that they cut down on the sauce. There was not enough sauce to cover all noodles and there's only a little bit of minced meat.

dan dan mian tian fu berlin

Water boiled fish (Shui Zhu Yu), the only dish of the night which still satisfy me. It's numbing and spicy and there are a lot of good smooth pieces of fish. It's definetly the star of the evening.

water boiled fish tianfu berlin

Stir fried bok choy with shitake mushroom. They mixed in some cheap leek to compensate the more expensive shanghai bok choy, to make the whole plate looks fuller.

stir fried shanghai bok choy with shitake mushroom

Btw If you know any other good Sichuan Restaurant, do tell me! I'm open for any recommendations!

Tian-Fu Restaurant

Sichuan Spezialitäten

Uhlandstr. 142

10719 Berlin

Tel.: 030/861 30 15
Fax: 030/86395337

Monday, April 5, 2010

Avocado Pudding

avocado pudding

Is avocado fruit or vegetable? Most Asians associate avocado with dessert and something sweet, but westerner always think that avocado is savory. My Russian neighbor was really shocked, when I made Es Teler (Indonesian dessert consisted of avocado, coconut milk and jackfruit). And I was astounded when I saw her eating avocado with cayenne pepper and salt.

Don't get me wrong! I love guacamole with tortilla chips! But the thought of eating bread with salty avocado as spread is really something that I need to get used to.

Anyway, I'm gonna stick with thinking avocado as fruit for now.
Here is a simple dessert of avocado pudding

avocado pudding ingredients

avocado pudding

Avocado Pudding
1 ripe avocado (cut in half and peeled; mashed half of the avocado and chopped coarsely the other half) - Don't forget to pour 1 Tbs lemon juice on the chopped avocado (I forgot to do that and the chopped avocado on the pudding oxidize very fast and let's just say that it looks very unappetizing)
10 g Agar agar powder
500 ml milk

100 ml water
200 g sugar

  • Mix agar agar powder, milk, sugar, water and mashed avocado in a pot
  • Heat the mixture over low fire and stir well
  • Pour in the chopped avocado into the mixture (The chopped avocado is there for a crunchy texture, If you don't like fresh fruit in your pudding just mashed the whole avocado)
  • Once the mixture boils, Set aside and pour the agar agar mixture into molds
  • Chill in the fridge for about one hour
  • After the pudding is set, overturn pudding on a plate and serve