Samstag, 15. August 2015

Lavish dinner at Himmelspagode

Last week, I was heading to Briesetal part of my project covering 100 Places to See in Germany when I passed near a huge pagoda in the middle of Hohen Neuendorf. At first, was thinking that maybe I was dreaming or was it too hot for my imagination, but realized that it was exactly what I saw. Too busy to stop for an investigation, I decided to keep it on the top of the return agenda. Meanwhile, we kept debating whether it is a temple or a restaurant, with most of the voices saying that it should be a restaurant. 
Many hours later, we were at the gates, and took one of the places on the outside terrasse of the Himmelspagode, ready to enjoy the pleasant summer afternoon wind and our meals. The menu was not making our choices easy - with various choices of Thai, Chinese and sushi. While waiting for the food, had a look indoors - slightly air conditioned - instantly transported in the middle of a (foodie) Chinese bedtime story: 400 places, three floors, one reserved for private business lunches and other events, enormous candelalbra and a big pond with tortues and red fish. The three big halls: Kaisersaal, Pekingsaal and Himmelsaal are carefully decorated in the classical Chinese style, with engraved mirrors and colourful glass paintings inspired by flora and fauna. 
One of the many waiters bringing the orders with a smile, dressed in colourful traditional clothes, brought us fortune cookies. With the classical music on the background, we tried to understand the message sent to us...
Hopefully, the food arrived fast and we gave up our intensive thinking. Out of the dishes we ordered, sushi was not the strongest point of the menu, but eating sushi at a Chinese restaurant is always a problematic choice. Instead, my fried noodles with black sesame were simple with moderate amounts of onions, and some pinches of carrots. The rice was not as oily as the Asian imbiss next my office door, with enough veggies to make it rich in taste.
While waiting for the sweet parts, I enjoyed my cold coffee - not the usual Vietnamese coffee I am so in love with. Rich in icecream and fatty cream that diminishes the strong coffeine taste.  
As usual, the sweets are for me the most important part of an Asian meal. I simply cannot have enough of them, with their moderate sweetness and combination of fruits. Our co-shared meals included baked balls of sticky rice filled with a mousse of red beans. Balanced taste with the natural sweetness of the honey and pineapple. 
The baked bananas - my choice - were not such a big surprise, maybe too fried, or too oily and the banana were too mashed for my taste. Maybe I was just having enough of all the food and of the long hours - around four - spent on the balcony of the pagoda with a view over the outdoors lake surrounding the circular building. 
The restaurant is open from Monday to Saturday, from 11.30 to 23.00. It has another two (much smaller) restaurants in Berlin, at the KaDeWe and Kaiser Pagoda in Potsdamer Allee. The prices are moderately to high, but given the good service, the ambiance and the quality of the food, it is one of those places that you always keep in mind to return, whatever the price and the distance. 

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