Friday, April 22, 2011

Jajangmyeon @ Juki, Prenzlauer Berg

There is a new Korean BBQ bar in Lychener Straße where I tried Jajangmyeon. Jajangmyeon is what Koreans refer to as Chinese cuisine but it isn't. Let's say it's a Chinese Korean dish with a fast-food-image. Kids and adults alike love these sticky wheat noodles with salty black bean sauce but are not allowed to eat them as often as they would like to (I don't know exactly why).

The banchans were so so but the noodles were good. Like the other Korean restaurants that opened in Prenzlauer Berg during the past years I think Juki lacks a concept of interior design.

Not that this is what really counts but I prefer the authentic no-design-at-all Korean restaurant (there are plenty of this type in Frankfurt am Main btw) to an half-hearted attempt.

Juki BBQ and Soju Bar
Lychener Str. 13.
Open from 4 pm.
Closed on Mondays.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Soba Noodles with Mentsuyu

At the moment I can't think of a better lunch than cold soba noodles with dipping sauce.

Whereas I devoured fantastic
handmade noodles in New York (Soba Nippon - where Michael Jackson has eaten, Inakaya, Sobaya) I haven't come across a soba noodle bar in Berlin yet (the city is just flooded with sushi bars) but I should search more thoroughly.

Until then I will settle for this self-made dish with store-bought noodles. Nice side-effect is that one bowl of bliss does not cost 20 bucks.

With a prepared dipping sauce (
mentsuyu) lunch will be ready in 10 minutes.
It is light, fat free and you will
not be lulled after the meal.

As to the mentsuyu recipe I have seen various suggestions online as well as in my cookbook but it is always a mixture of
kaeshi (soy sauce + mirin + sugar) and dashi.


1) For the
kaeshi bring

4 tbsp hon
mirin to a boil, turn down the heat and let it simmer a little, add
5 tbsp
sugar and let it melt, then add
250 ml
soy sauce and let it simmer.

2) In another pan prepare 250 ml of
dashi stock eather by bringing 250 ml water with

a small piece of
konbu and 1 tbsp bonito flakes OR
2 tsp
dashi granules

to boil for a couple of minutes. Strain the dashi if made with konbu and bonito flakes.

3) Pour the kaeshi to the dashi stock and let it boil for a further couple of minutes. After cooling down you can store the remaining mentsuyu in the fridge - it should make up for about 8 servings in total.

II. Cook the soba noodles until just soft. Then drain and wash it in cold water.

III. Meanwhile prepare the
toppings that are on hand. Everything should be sliced as thinly as possible.

- spring onions
- nori shreads
- daikon radish
- spinach leaves
- carrots
- shiso leaves

Or any veggies that happen to be in your fridge (as shown in the picture). I also like to add either roasted
tofu flakes or omelette slices for the protein factor. But I cannot guarantee if these proceedings will be approved by a Japanese :)

IV. As to the
groceries: all ingredients can be found in the Asian store.

Unfortunately in the two Asian stores in Berlin Mitte my favorite
Japanese brand (see pic in the middle of another Japanese brand) for noodles seems to have disappeared and the only one available (last pic) were made in China.

This is annoying as I would only use Japanese products for a Japanese dish, Korean products for a Korean dish and Chinese products for a Chinese dish (isn't that too logical? :) ).

The thing is that Korean and Chinese buckwheat noodles
contain more wheat flour than buckwheat flour. And the purest quality is desired here. I also found out that one Chinese brand contained 50g less than as it was declared on the package.
So keep an eye on the ingredients' list!

Friday, April 15, 2011

twilight from a bird's eye view

In the lucky case you take off from a mega city during the twilight :) The bigger the city, the more lights will outline the streets (the major, the middle, the tiny streets...) and the more spectacular will be the skyline. Like an X-ray, you get a clear overview of the "city's composition", much better than during the day.

This was
L.A. at the end of march where the view from the airplane was so breathtakingly beautiful it put one into a solemn mood.

I would love to see Sao Paolo, Shanghai and Tokyo likewise some day but admit that these moments can realistically not be planned ahead :) Also the flight patch & seat must be advantageous... last but not least because of environmental issues occasions for a bird's eye view of a city will become increasingly rare.

Friday, April 8, 2011

homemade granola

I am back in Berlin and back in my kitchenette.

Naturally the first thing to do after a housekeeping break is to stock the pantry. Along with this: to produce
granola (the German equivalent has the nice name Knuspermüsli - crunchy muesli) in bulk.

Once prepared there is hardly
a faster, cheaper, tastier, healthier breakfast when you are in a hurry. Whereas for a weekend meal I consider it too humble ;)

This is how I make mine, geared to this recipe. There are gazillion versions in the blogosphere but
Nigella Lawson's is said to be an original.

Needless to say that everything can be changed to one's liking so these are guidelines:

- the more
different flavors (different spices, sweeteners, liquids etc.) combined, the more complex and delicious will be the outcome.

- if you want to add
dried fruits, do it after the baking. In this case, the amount of sugar can be reduced beforehand.

- to make it even more nutritious, eat it
with yogurt and fresh fruits

- whereas serving it
with milk will bring out all flavors at ultimate level.

- even though it is addictive, consume it in
moderate amounts. Otherwise you won't get hungry for the rest of the day ;).

1) Prepare the
binding sauce: mix
- 200g mango-apple puree (or smashed bananas or any other fruit puree. I bought an organic puree at the drugstore dm which was just fine)
- 180g liquid sweeteners (maple syrup + agave syrup + honey)
- 1 tsp fleur de sel
- 2 tsp ground cinnemon
- 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger

2) Mix the
dry ingredients in a separate bowl:
- 500g whole multi-grain flakes
- 400g nuts (only almonds are fine. alternatively walnuts, hazelnuts, pekans, cashew, macadamia,..)
- 150g seeds (sunflower + pumpkin + sesame + flax)
- 100g light brown sugar

3) Pour in the sauce and add 2 tbsp vegetable oil. Mix everything well. Spread the granola on a baking sheet.

4) Bake it in the oven at 160°C until golden brown, approximately 40 min (in order to save energy, don't preheat the oven and turn the it off 10 min earlier). After half of the baking time stir it.

5) Additional tip: store the granola together with a used vanilla bean (a new one won't harm but is really not necessary here). A bean can be used for up to a year.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

K-Town Manhattan

Among all the Korean enclaves around the world K-Town in Manhattan must be the tiniest. It is basically one block of the West 32th street (signposted as the Korea Way), a stone's throw away from the Empire State Building and thus, not residential :)

If you are really interested into authentic food or in meeting locals it is recommended to go to
Flushing, Queens where owing to a vast Korean American community traditional gastronomy is said to be cheaper and better. But if you are lazy and lacking time the Manhattan site is the most convenient and dense conglomeration of inexpensive service facilities: an abundant grocery store (a bit chaotic appearance but they sell fresh banchan and kimchi to take), cosmetic stores, "fancy stores" (if you are not Korean, you won't need these :), book stores, beauty salons, bakeries, a mandoo bar, karaoke bars, restaurants... all open until late.

This is my list of tried and approved eateries:

1. Third Floor Cafe: A tasty Kimchi Boggeum Bab (stir fried rice) and a Watermelon Martini for 12 $ during Happy Hour. The best ambience.

Shilla: Mul Naeng Myun (cold noodles) and vegetable dumplings (don't forget to order the steamed version, not the fried one as I did!).

3. Kunjip: Galbi Gui (marinated beef short rips bbq), Hae Mul Pa Jun (Seafood pancake), Soon Doo Boo Chigae (silken tofu stew) and Bibimbap.
Inexpensive, tasty and everything comes with a lot of banchans.

recommend Dduk Boki there though (sauce is not well balanced).

4. Koryodang: If you have never had Korean pastries, you should. Consistency of the dough is much lighter and just really different. Here I was introduced to Chabssal Donut which turned out to be a curse (way too addictive). Or go to the rival.

Cannot recommend the Patbingsu (shaved ice) because of too little azuki bean sauce.

5. Last but not least Mé Bar. This is a tiny hidden roof top bar and the most relaxed of this sort. Can recommend the Pomegranate Martini.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

boygroup in the East Village

Weeks ago, while walking around aimlessly and disheartened, these guys clearly saved my day. Despite of big traffic noises and initially ignorant pedestrians their joyful air and catching tune won an enthusiastic audience within minutes. Please keep watching until the end :)