Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I hereby proudly introduce to you, my dear reader, my favourite Japanese Restaurant in Berlin, Sasaya.

Let me start with this anecdote. A decade ago, before the Ishin that we all knew and love became the cheap, lower quality, franchised Japanese Deli that it is today, there was a tiny imbiss in Steglitz, Berlin also called Ishin. Everything they offered, the fresh sashimi, warm/cold dono, and my favorite grilled salmon, were prepared with love. And best of all, everything only cost 5 euro. The menu were simple, but Japanese food is about simplicity and quality. The Chef himself took his time to come out and greet his customers, asking whether the food was fine. No wonder that this tiny imbiss was always full, with a long line outside of the imbiss. After some time, this tiny Ishin announced that they were closing down. It was a great dissapoinment for everyone. Then the Ishin, that we know nowadays opened its very first store in Mitte. The concept was similar, sushi, sashimi, warm and cold Don, but the Japanese Chef was not there, and the touch of love was missing. The new Ishin was fulfilling but not satisfiying. I still miss the old Ishin that I love.

Then I heard a rumor that the Chef from the original Ishin decided to open his own restaurant called Sasaya. It is said that Sasaya is the chef's name. I don't know whether this is true. If any of you ask the Chef in Sasaya (the one behind the counter making sushi), if this is true, do tell me.

Without further delay, here are some highlight of the food in Sasaya

Salted grilled mackerel. A simple dish consist of a filet of mackerel that's grilled with some salt. Though it's simple, the flavor shine due to the freshness of the fish. It cost around 4 euro.

Tempura set: One huge shrimp, sweet potato and shitake mushroom. The shrimp was fresh and springy, the sweet potato was crisp and sweet and the fresh shitake mushroom was meaty and most importantly, the batter was light and crispy. Around 5 euro.

Stir fried takana, a Japanese version of preserved mustard green. A fresh and crunchy veggies for around 2 euro.

Here's everything I ordered, the small green stuff on the side is their complimentary pickles. They continue the custom!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Signora Maria

The idea behind Signora Maria is new and interesting. It's a combination of a delicatessen and a bistro/cafe at the same time. And since it's located right behind the ulmer Münster (Cathedral), so the location is quite central and well chosen. The store is divided into some sections; On one side, there are shelves filled with wine, balsamic acid, proscuttio and basically everything an Italian delicatessen would offer. In the middle of the store, there's a counter which sell cheese, antipasti, cold cuts and dessert. The final side offers warm dishes, such as pasta, and cold bread. And of course beside the warm dish counter, they also have a coffee bar, just like any decent Italian restaurant.

The first thing I noticed right after I entered the shop/restaurant, was that there are no picture or sign! This kinda turned me off actually. Why would they not put a sign? Did they think this shop/deli idea is so original, that they are afraid that their idea will be stolen? I have no idea. Anyway, despite that, I was still curious about this place and ordered some food. This process was also quite complicated. They don't have a clearly laid out menu, instead the menu are pastered either on the counter or over the counter. After that you need to walk to the register to place and pay your order, then with the receipt, you have to walk back to the cooking counter and gave it to the cook. It's definitely not a place for you if you want to sit leisurely and be waited on. Anyway, this is what I order :

Spaghetti with clams and mussels

It was alright, the spaghetti was a little bit undercooked, I guess they tried to make it al-dente but it's definitely undercooked. There was a lot of clams and mussels for a dish that cost around 8 euro. And just like spaghetti vongole should be, this is a very garlicky dish. And I love the cherry tomatoes which bring a little fruitiness and sweetness to the dish.

For the dessert I ordered a chocolate profiteroles:

The first impression that I got, is that they don't prepare the dessert in the store. Like I said, it's a delicatessen and they have variety of cakes which they sell in boxes. I really think that they open the packaging and then sell it as theirs. But I also saw some tiramisu and profiteroles in casserole forms. So maybe these two desserts are freshly made. The Profiteroles itself is cold and chocolaty. Good but clearly not the best.
and for the companion of the profiteroles, I ordered some Latte Machiatto

I like that cocoa heart on top of the milk foam. The coffee is thick, hearty and milky, just like a good Italian coffee should be.

It was a mission for me to get permission to get the pictures of the food I ordered. Seriously. After I ordered my food, I asked for permission to take pictures of my food, and only of the things that I ordered, not the store itself. They were not pleased, but after explaining that it's for a blog, they were willing to ask around. First they asked the supervisor, then the store owner. I was surprised when they pointed me to a middle-aged Italian man, quite heavily build, who sat on one corner, drinking coffee while writing on a notebook. He looked just like a Don from a mafia movie (I watched too much "The Godfather", I know). Anyway, after a discussion, He told the supervisor to give me his permission to take pictures, but only after I gave them my blog address.

So my final verdict is this: the store impress me a lot, they have a variety of goods; Olive oil, balsamic acid, Italian bread, pastas, antipasti, cold cuts, and frozen goods. The warm dish itself was fine but not the best Italian food I've eaten. But, I will definitely go back for their authentic Italian goods.

Signora Maria

Kramgasse 4
89073 Ulm

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Home Made Käsespätzle

My Landlady, Mrs Diebold is a true swabian lady. She cooks a typical german lunch everyday , i.e. Germans only eat one warm meal a day. It's quite a surprise for me who eat warm meal three times a day. So to introduce a real swabian Käsespätzle to me, she invited me for lunch one day. And I'm even allowed to take pictures of her Käsespätzle!

Käsespätzle is actually a German version of mac and cheese. I would even dare to say that it's more refined than your usual mac and cheese because, they used more than two types of cheese for taste and the noodle is made from scratch. Käse means cheese and Spätzle is a type of egg noodle, literally spätzle means little sparrow, I guess it's because of the irregular form of the noodles. The most important part of a Käsespätzle is the cheese, since the taste and the smell of a Käsespätzle depends solely on the cheese. So, strong smelling cheeses are recommended. For example, my landlady used a combination of three types of Cheeses : Bergkäse (a gruyere-like cheese), good quality Allgäuer Emmenthaler and old Gouda. The cheese should be grated and mixed evenly. For the Spätzle dough, it should be noted that the consistency should look like this

So let's start!

Fill a grater (Hobel) - a special gadget invented only to make spätzle - with some spätzle dough
then ... start to grate, grate and grate