Sonntag, 5. Oktober 2014

Foodie Berlin: Hanage Okonomiyaki

Shortly after the long summer vacation of wandering in Europe, I was told that a new Japanese restaurant was opened in Berlin. Longing for a long time for some original Japanese food and ambiance, I almost run there to discover the place on my own and since then, I've been at least two more times. Hanage Okonomiyaki is situated on Pappelallee 19, near the corner with Raumerstrasse, in a foodie area in the Eastern side of Berlin. The website is not very helpful, except for the directions and some suggestions of the menu, but the restaurant is just at the beginning and many already heard about it from word-of-mouth or other online media reviews. 
The personnel is very welcoming, Japanese style, with German and English and, of course, Japanese used regularly. The menu is also bilingual which helps a lot the diverse audience that I spotted during the various visits to the place. Another advantage of the menu is that it lists the ingredients which may help a lot those not familiar with the various Japanese names.
Especially late in the afternoons, the place can be quite crowded and previous reservations are recommended. I tested both the outdoors and indoors and rather preferred to stay inside, where I was also able to spy the fast movements of the Japanese chef beyond the transparent walls of the small kitchen counter.  
Many of the Japanese products I can hardly find in Europe are on their menu and this is a very good news. For instance, the Pokka green tea, serving brewed cold tea in the bottle. 
My pleasant addiction is the homemade ginger lemon tea, a bit surprisingly spicy, delicately perfumed and very fresh. It keeps a good company to the salty foods. The list of drinks on the menu includes Kirin beer, cider, Ozekihana Awaka Sake and other traditional beverages, mostly alcoholic.
Indoors, there are alternative long wooden tables with 'normal' chairs and a typical Japanese corner, with tatami where one stays without shoes. The orders are made directly at the counter, but it doesn't take too long till you have them on your table. The furniture is simple and everything looks small and crowded, the original Japanese space feeling after all. Unfortunately, it does not have wlan, but the food gives enough inspiration to survive a short Internet detox, at least during the lunch break.
The bowl of edamame was a bit of a disappointment - till now, Ishin is still the best in terms of proper preparation and good balance between quantity and price - as there were a bit too salty and not very well boiled. 
My disappointment was immediately forgotten after having the first bit of my onigiri tamago (mouth watering while writing): corn taste, moderately salted, with warm special rice. Ate it every little bit at once, savouring the combination of flavours.
The biggest hit of the restaurant is the famous okonomiyaki, a typical savory pancake with shredded cabbage, and sauce topic. Mine had a strong cheese taste, matched by the sweet cabbage and corn and spiced by the BBQ sauce. In Japanese 'okonomi' means 'what you want/like', while 'yaki' means 'grilled'. The menu has three different sorts of okonomiyaki that can't wait to test and maybe learn how to prepare too, hopefully soon.
In the usual Japanese ironical note, the restrooms are small enough - but not musical like the ones in their mother -country - with some funny insights that are giving some basic directions without in an universal language. 
After so many searches, I finally found an original Japanese corner in Berlin too, serving not only the stereotypical sushi, but genuine Japanese meals that you hardly heard about in Europe but once you discover, you would instantly fell in love with.
All being said, it is about time to plan a new foodie adventure at Hanage Okonomiyaki.

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