Out of many Japanese restaurants in Berlin, Ishin sounds and tastes for me the most genuine, not only because the food is affordable and the service is always smiling, but because it looks and offers the same kind of menu that I was used with in Japan. This was available in the case of sushi that I intensively tested and tasted in the last years. But a couple of months ago, a new restaurant was open, serving the famous udon, that is so hard to find in Berlin restaurants in the classical delicious form.
It Thursday, middle of the day and the business lunch offers is running, but the place is relatively empty. For the weekend, there are other special offers, with children offers included. Compared to the other Ishin restaurants, it is not only open on Sunday but also accepts credit cards. If you are living in America or other big European countries this detail may sound irrelevant, but if you are living in Berlin it matters a lot.
Design-wise, it seems that this restaurant allowed more interest for creating a special ambiance, with typical Japanese drawings on the wall and half-wooden walls. In addition, the natural green decorations are creating a friendly space complimenting the always smiling and ready to help service. I also liked the pastel mild colours of the Japanese looking dishware I was served in.
Shortly after taking my order, the Japanese lady brought me a mug of cold mugicha tea, a coffeine free roasted grain based infusion. Popular not only in Japan, China and Korea, but also in the UK it seems to change the taste depending of the accompanying bits of food I had before. They do not use the green tea refill system from the other restaurants, but this cup is refreshing enough for not wanting another one.
Shortly after ordering, my meals are coming. First, the pumpkin croquettes of Korokke, oil-free and with the fresh sweet taste of pumpkin, with a good freshness added by the salad leaves. The plum based sauce makes the pumpkin taste, with a bread consistency, more fruity. I savored it bit by bit, as every time I was expecting to find something new or extraordinary. Nothing happened by far but the gourmet experience was good.
Then, the star of the meal arrived: the udon soup, with Japanese scallions, shiitake mushrooms, radiches and fish. To be eaten by using the chopsticks - for the udon noodles and the other ingredients and with the big spoon for the liquid. If you want to do it native way, don't forget to sip the noodles as noisous as possible. 'People don't do it like this here' noticed the Japanese lady serving me and I acquiesce, but to be honest I am reluctant to do it myself. Ok, I did it once, but shortly thereafter I was looking around embarassed. No social risks, everyone was looking either in their smart phone or in their bowl of udon so no danger of being disqualified.
As for the content of my soup, I was delighted to rediscover the original taste of udon, with the fresh pasta and delicate composure of the noodles that finely goes together with the other ingredients. Not too spicey and not too tasteless, that balance that helps us to go successfully through days and life.
When it was about time to leave, I realized how much I missed the good old udon and how keen I am to return there as soon as I will be again in this part of Mitte.