Author Archives: andberlin

Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap – Cult Favourite Döner in Berlin

Close up of Hähnchen Gemüse Döner at Mustafa's Gemüse Kebap in Berlin

Emerging from the U-Bahn station on the west side of Mehringdamm in Berlin Kreuzberg, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was the first day of the sales or that a famous celebrity is signing autographs but the long line of people you see are queuing for a Döner at Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap.

The queue at Mustafa's Gemüse Kebap in Berlin

Strolling down almost any street in the German capital you’ll find a handful of options for Berlin’s most popular snack options the Currywurst and the Döner Kebap.  Mustafa’s has been a cult favourite since it started selling a twist on the traditional kebab made with chicken and roasted vegetables.

Mustafa’s has appeared in numerous Berlin guide books and newspaper articles that guarantee it a steady stream of tourist trade to add to the local interest.

If that wasn’t enough, the guys made an advert.

All this adds up to spectacularly long queues.

Just walking along the pavement on Mehringdamm is difficult at times because the queues from Mustafa’s and another local legend Curry 36 often meet each other.

It’s not unusual to have to queue for 30 minutes or more.

The queue at Mustafa's Gemüse Kebap in Berlin The queue at Mustafa's Gemüse Kebap in Berlin

The big question: is it worth the wait?

I have to say that I’m a big fan of the Hähnchen Döner mit Gemüse (Chicken doner with vegetables).

As is the norm, there is a choice of three sauces: Kräuter (herb), Knoblauch (garlic), Scharf (spicy) and the usual array of salad.

For me though, it’s the finishing touches that make the kebabs here special.

The serving window Mustafa's Gemüse Kebap in Berlin

Firstly, shortly before serving a mystery liquid (Mustafa’s secret ingredient) is squeezed onto the meat and vegetables.

Hähnchen Gemüse Döner at Mustafa's Gemüse Kebap in Berlin

Then, the pièce de résistance a crumbling of Feta cheese and a squeeze of juice straight from the lemon add a freshness that elevates the Gemüse Kebap above the average Döner.

Whether it is worth standing in the queue for upwards of half an hour to get your hands on one really depends on how busy you are and what else you could be doing with your time.

The obvious question when confronted with such a popular spot is why there aren’t branches in every corner of Berlin.  There were outposts under Eberswalder Straße U-Bahnhof and on Oranienburger Straße near Hackescher Markt in 2012 but neither lasted unfortunately.

Other shops and stalls have popped up all over Berlin selling Gemüse Döner though so there are alternatives if you can’t face, or don’t have time, for the queues – I would recommend K’UPS Gemüse Kebap on Kastanianallee.

With so much hype surrounding a kebab shop it would be easy to write Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap off as a Berlin tourist trap but the truth is that the Döner here is something special – and they do say the best things in life are worth waiting for.

Tourist Information From Tina Berlina by El Bocho

Tina Berlina - 'Top Secret Info' - Street Art by El Bocho in Berlin

It was around the start of 2014 that I first noticed Tina Berlina, a new character from prolific Berlin Street Artist El Bocho.

Tina has been popping up on the streets of Berlin this year offering advice to tourists and giving German lessons.  Unfortunately, I’ve missed German Lesson 3.

Tina Berlina - 'Beware of Boring Areas': Street Art by El Bocho in Berlin Tina Berlina - 'Don't Believe The Dealer' - Street Art by El Bocho in Berlin Tina Berlina - 'Don't Go To The Oktoberfest' - Street Art by El Bocho in Berlin Tina Berlina - German Lesson 1 - Street Art by El Bocho in Berlin Tina Berlina - German Lesson 2 - Street Art by El Bocho in Berlin Tina Berlina - German Lesson 4 - Street Art by El Bocho in Berlin

There’s lots of El Bocho Street Art from his Citizens and Little Lucy series elsewhere on andBerlin and here’s hoping that Tina Berlina keeps appearing on the walls of Berlin, offering her pearls of wisdom to the city’s many tourists.

Sunday Documentary: Jesse Owens Returns to Berlin

Jesse Owens lines up at the start of the 100m final at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin

Jesse Owens Returns To Berlin is a documentary written, directed and produced by Bud Greenspan and filmed during a visit to Berlin in 1964, which recounts Owens’ incredible achievements during the 1936 Olympics.

The rise of National Socialism in Germany and Hitler’s anti-semitic policies and advocation of the superiority of the Aryan race resulted in several calls for a boycott of the games.  Against this political backdrop, Jesse Owens’ haul of four gold medals is all the more significant.

For a black athlete to demonstrate clearly his superior athleticism and so convincingly outperform his white counterparts was a massive slap in the face for Hitler and made a mockery of his racist theories during his Nazi showpiece games.

Standing in the box at the Olympiastadion where Hitler sat to watch the games, Jesse Owens tells with pride that the flag of the US team was the only one not to be dipped as the athletes passed the Führer.  It may be my imagination but it seems that Hitler’s jaw twitches as he observes this act of defiance.

It was at 28:48 in this documentary that a legend was born.  Standing in the Olympiastadion with Luz Long’s son Kai, Owens tell the remarkable story (disputed like so many other great tales) of his father’s part in his victory in the Long Jump (then known as the Broad Jump).

Jesse Owens Returns to Berlin is a wonderful documentary that delivers on many levels: it is a fascinating account of sporting prowess, an important historical record and a tale of good beats evil, and for Berlin fans there is the added interest of seeing the Olympiastadion and Lustgarten as they looked during the 1936 Olympics.

Jesse Owens Returns to Berlin

Agni Indian Restaurant – Highly Recommended For Curry in Berlin

Murgh Tikka Curry Close Up at Agni Indian Restaurant in Berlin

Spicy, tasty and authentic aren’t words often associated with Indian food in Berlin.  Finding a genuinely decent curry in the German capital isn’t easy let alone an exceptional one so after my first meal at Agni in Moabit I walked out with a ‘curry high’ that lasted for days.

It is unlikely that I would have found Agni without a recommendation – it is mentioned in the ‘Berlin’s Best Curry Houses’ post on Slow Travel Berlin – as it’s a nondescript looking storefront on a less than glamorous Moabit street.

The heady aroma of spices coming from the kitchen may have clouded my mind because, despite having read about it in advance, I was still a little shocked at how small the restaurant is. Four tables for 2 face the open kitchen with a further table under the counter.  With seating for 10 people in total, it’s safe to say that this isn’t a place to take a large group, though meals are available to take away.

My first experience at Agni was overwhelmingly positive.  Steffi, Bine and I were all drawn to the Tandoor (Variation 2) section of the menu – dishes described as ‘laid in traditional marinades and cooked in the clay oven – served on a banana leaf with rice, bread and a sauce’.

Chennai Tikka Curry at Agni Indian Restaurant in Berlin Murgh Tikka Curry at Agni Indian Restaurant in Berlin Paneer Tikka Jahangiri at Agni Indian Restaurant in Berlin

I opted for the Chennai Tikka Curry (37), Steffi had Murgh Tikka Curry (36) and Bine went for the Paneer Tikka Jahangiri (45).

Having chosen my curry because of the Madras sauce (described on the menu as ‘scharf’) I was a little surprised to find that Steffi’s was spicier (on reflection this is on account of the relative spiciness of the marinades).

As we left the restaurant, Steffi voiced her approval in her usual way ‘Das war lecker’ (that was tasty), she said, followed shortly by ‘Ich bin so voll’ (I’m so full).  Bine and I agreed.

On my latest visit I decided to try one of the Thalis, a selection of dishes served with rice, bread and salad – a kind of Indian tapas if you like – a good way to work my way through the menu in as few visits as possible.

I had the Amish Thali (83), which allowed me to choose three different Lamb and Chicken specialities (this was marked as Niramish Thali on the menu in the restaurant but I believe that would be a vegetarian dish).

Amish Thali Tray at Agni Indian Restaurant in Berlin Amish Thali Components at Agni Indian Restaurant in Berlin

I chose the Dilli Murgh (59) – tradional North Indian chicken curry, the Murgh Palak (63) – chicken fillet in spinach sauce and Chennai Gosht Curry (66) – lamb curry South Indian style (spicy).

The Thali came on a silver tray and everything was absolutely delicious but the Chennai Gosht was the standout dish.

Over the course of five visits there have been some slight differences in the taste and look of some of the dishes I have had that suggests they are cooked on instinct rather than following a strict recipe.  However, the food has always been of a consistently high quality and has never failed to deliver when it comes to flavour.  On each of those visits a small complementary starter has come with the drinks.

Complementary Starter at Agni Indian Restaurant in Berlin Papadam at Agni Indian Restaurant in Berlin

I will be very pleasantly surprised if this isn’t the best curry in Berlin – a visiting friend, who spent his university years in Bradford, the curry capital of England, gave Agni his nod of approval and when it comes to Indian food in Berlin it won’t get much better than that.

Sunday Documentary: WATERGATE X

The Crowd and Lights at Watergate Berlin

Photo: Screenshot from WATERGATE X

WATERGATE X is a documentary directed by Stathis Klotsikas produced in 2012 to celebrate 10 years of the Berlin club, Watergate.  The film mixes footage from inside the club and interviews featuring a number of Watergate residents and includes a chat with world-renowned DJ, Sven Väth.

The chances are, if you’ve been to Berlin in the summer, you’ve seen people partying on the club’s deck on the Spree river as you walked over the Oberbaumbrücke.

Friedrich Liecthtenstein fans should keep an eye out for the footage from the video for Solomun – Kackvogel at 22:58.

At 32:51 Dixon identifies what differentiates some of Berlin’s most successful clubs from the ‘superclubs’ in other cities and what makes the Berlin club scene so…well, Berlin.

As well as running a successful club and record label Watergate also organises an Open Air in Rummelsberg each summer and footage of the 2011 event features from 28:15.

I stood in the queue for Watergate once but it wasn’t moving so I ended up in Monster Ronson’s Ichiban Karaoke instead – this documentary about this iconic Berlin club makes me determined to go back to have my own experiences there.

WATERGATE X

Berlin Street Art Vol 14 – Various Artists

Feast your eyes on a selection of first class Berlin Street Art.

Same procedure as every post James – if the artist has appeared here before, clicking on their name will be rewarded with more of their work.

CAZ.L

I still don’t know any more about CAZ.L than I did when I first posted her work in my Dog Lover post as part of my It’s Friday, I’m in love series.

My Buddy - Street Art by CAZ.L in Berlin

Check out CAZ.L’s website and Facebook page for more great work.

El Bocho

Kissing - Street Art by El Bocho in Berlin

Jimmy C

Australian-born but currently London-based, James Cochran, aka Jimmy C, has made a few trips to Berlin over the last couple of years and each time he leaves Street Art fans a present or two in the form of his pointillist murals.

Big Mouth Strikes Again - Street Art by Jimmy C in Berlin

You’ll find a heap of great Street Art from Jimmy C on his website and Facebook page.

ALANIZ

Cracking - Street Art by ALANIZ in Berlin

MIMI The ClowN

This is a Foto Opportunity - Street Art by MIMI The ClowN in Berlin

Have a look at this short film ‘ICH BIN EIN STREET ARTIST’ to see MIMI The ClowN at work in Berlin.

Mina Ja Lydia

Vincent - Street Art by Mina Ja Lydia in Berlin

You can see more from Estonian artist Mina Ja Lydia on her Tumblr.

Adnate

Emma Pea - Street Art by Adnate in Berlin

Don John

I only wish there was more of Danish artist Don John’s work in Berlin.  Eye-catching motifs, a very strong style and first-class technique set him apart as one of the good ‘uns.

Tails of the Unexpected - Street Art by Don John in Berlin

You’d be a fool not to have a look at Don John’s website.

FLOCKE // ART

This WASTED GERMAN TODDLERS paste-up by FLOCKE // ART is a twist on WASTED GERMAN YOUTH.

WASTED GERMAN TODDLERS - Street Art by FLOCKE//ART Berlin

FLOCKE // ART has been pretty active in Berlin over the last year so you can expect to see more of his/her work here.  In the meantime check out his/her Facebook page.

Unknown Artists

Do you know who created any of these pieces?  If you do, let me know in the comments and I’ll update the post to credit the artist.

Fire Walk With Me - Street Art by Unknown Artist in Berlin Framed - Street Art by Unknown Artist in Berlin Drunk Spongebob - Street Art by Unknown Artist in Berlin

Sunday Documentary: Goering’s Last Secret – Revealed

Portrait of Albert Goering c.1940 - screenshot from the documentary 'Goering's Last Secret: Revealed'

Photo: Screenshot from the documentary ‘Goering’s Last Secret: Revealed’

Goering’s Last Secret: Revealed tells the remarkable story of Albert Göring (Goering), the brother of Hitler’s henchman, Hermann Göring, who traded on his brother’s name and made it his mission to rescue people from the tyranny of the Nazis.

This documentary follows William Hastings Burke, an Australian, whose fascination with Göring’s life and quest for the truth about his acts of resistance and subsequent research was laid out in the book, Thirty Four, published by Wolfgeist Ltd in 2009.

The book’s title is a reference to the 34 names on Albert Göring’s list of people he helped that he presented as witnesses during his trial at Nuremberg.

Ironically and sadly, considering his exploits, the allies brought Albert before the military tribunals at the Nuremberg trials for war crimes merely because he was the brother of Hermann Göring.

His accusers refused to believe his tales of resistance until after 14 months imprisonment he was appointed a new interrogator, Major Victor Parker.

In what was a very fortunate coincidence, Parker was the nephew of Sophie Paschkis, the wife of the composer Franz Lehár, who Albert had saved and whose name was among the thirty-four.

Despite his eventual exoneration, Albert Göring continued to suffer for his association with the Göring family name and its Nazi connections and this thoughtful and absorbing documentary and his life do not have the happy endings they deserved.

Goering’s Last Secret – Revealed

Berlin Street Art Vol 13 – Various Artists

Time for another Berlin Street Art selection box – enjoy!

You should know the drill by now, but just in case you don’t, if they’ve featured on the blog before clicking on an artist’s name will take you to more of their work.

CASE

Andreas von Chrzanowski, aka CASE / Case_Maclaim, is the man responsible for these massive hands.  Born in Thüringen, he produces some very impressive photorealistic Street Art and has been part of the Maclaim Crew since 2000.

Under Der Hand - Street Art by CASE (Maclaim) in Berlin

Unter Der Hand (Close Up) - Street Art by CASE (Maclaim) in Berlin

Check out CASE’s website and Facebook page.

ALIAS

Sitting On The Facts - Street Art by ALIAS in Berlin

Apitatán

These two pieces by Apitatán, who hails from Quito, Ecuador, made me smile.  ‘Monday Again’ – the image of a man shaving – was particularly well placed, the recess in the wall giving the impression of a mirror’s frame.

Nuen Tien Do Nada - Street Art by Apitatán in Berlin Monday Again - Street Art by Apitatán in Berlin

See more from Apitatán on his website and Facebook page.

Ericailcane x Bastardilla

This huge piece in the Haus Schwarzenberg Hof by Ericailcane is a very unsubtle dig at people like me who take photographs of Street Art.  It is part of a collaboration with Colombian Street Artist Bastardilla – just one of a number of murals produced by the pair.

Street Art by Ericailcane x Bastardilla in Berlin Ape Face Close Up - Street Art by Ericailcane in Berlin Ape Face Close Up - Street Art by Ericailcane in Berlin Camera Close Up - Street Art by Ericailcane in Berlin

El Bocho

Citizen Green - Street Art by El Bocho in Berlin

Ambush

If you’re a fan of Berlin Street Art, chances are you’ve seen Ambush’s ‘Bending Berlin Baby’, featuring a slightly worse for wear Bender from Futurama.  This time, Yoda gets the Ambush treatment in ‘Kiss My Darkside’.

Kiss My Darkside - Street Art by Ambush in Berlin

Negative Vibes

Shrouded - Street Art by Negative Vibes in Berlin

See plenty of cracking Street Art from Negative Vibes on Facebook and Tumblr.

STEIN

Painter For Life - Street Art by STEIN in Berlin

There’s a lot more work from Norwegian Street Artist STEIN on his Facebook page.

Unknown Artists

If anyone knows who created these pieces, please let me know in the comments.  That way, I can update my post to give the artist the proper credit.

Daft Punk - Street Art by Unknown Artist in Berlin Puppeteer - Street Art by Unknown Artist in Berlin

Burger Me: 6 of the Best Burgers in Berlin

Like just about everybody else in this city I’m constantly on the lookout for Berlin’s Best Burger.  Every time I think I have my list finalised a new place opens or someone recommends somewhere I haven’t heard of and I have to reshuffle it – that’s why this is ‘6 of the best’ not ‘the best’.

Discussions about the best burgers in Berlin can get quite intense and emotional so I’m sure some of you will be shouting at your screens when you get to the end of this post.

For now, these are my 6 top recommendations but I’ll update the list whenever I find a new favourite.

Clicking on the restaurant name will take you to a full post about it.

Da Birdhouse - the house burger at The Bird in Berlin

The Bird – Prenzlauer Berg / Kreuzberg
You will never forget your first burger at The Bird – a meat feast followed by a food coma. Eating here is a burger lover’s rite of passage. Booking recommended.
My Advice: The Kreuzberg outpost offers a lunch special – a single patty version of Da Birdhouse with fries and a soft drink or small beer for €7.50.

 

Chilli Cheeseburger at Berlin Burger International in NeuköllnBerlin Burger International (BBI) – Neukölln
BBI is barely more than a hole in the wall but there is plenty of outdoor seating, ideal for hot summer days. The burgers come loaded with mountains of toppings.
My Advice: Be sure to have some serviettes at the ready. There’s no way you’re eating one of the burgers here without making an almighty mess.

 

Chilli Cheeseburger and Süßkartoffel Pommes at Schiller Burger Berlin

Schiller Burger – Neukölln & others
The burgers at Schiller Burger have proven popular enough to warrant opening 4 locations across Berlin with a 5th in Pankow in the pipeline.
My Advice: The original Schillerkiez location is still the best. Get the Sweet Potato Pommes with the Aoili dip (smelly breath be damned).

 

Cheeseburger with Bacon and Fries (close up) at Tommi's Burger Joint BerlinTommi’s Burger Joint – Mitte
Tómas Andrés Tómasson, the man behind Tommi’s loves burgers so much he eats at least one every day – the burgers here are that good.
My Advice: The burgers are full of flavour but basic but you can add extras – as they say, everything’s better with bacon and don’t miss the ‘Extras bar’.

 

The De La Sauce Bao Burger at District Mot, a Vietnamese restaurant, in BerlinDistrict Một – Mitte
There’s only one burger on the menu at District Một – the De La Sauce. Served in a Banh Bao bap this Vietnamese fusion burger is a 3 times winner of the Burgers n Hip Hop best burger vote.
My Advice: Check out the ‘For the Exotic Tongue’ section of the menu – Deep-fried silkworm anyone?

 

The Buckshot at Piri's Chicken Burgers in Berlin

Piri’s Chicken Burgers – Kreuzberg
From Portugal via Sydney, Piri’s brings a much-needed dose of fiery chilli goodness to Berlin. ‘The Buckshot’ is a wonderful cheese steak creation.
My Advice: If you’re feeling brave, try the Trauma sauce but remember softly, softly catchee monkey as Henry Kelly would say.

 

If anyone has any recommendations for a burger joint I have to try please let me know in the comments.

Soviet War Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin

Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin 001

Honouring the Soviet soldiers who died in the Second World War was obviously of huge importance to Joseph Stalin – in Berlin alone there are 4 memorials, one of which is the Soviet War Memorial in Schönholzer Heide (Das Sowjetische Ehrenmal in der Schönholzer Heide).  It may not be as centrally located as the Soviet War Memorial on Strasse des 17 Juni or as jaw-droppingly vast as the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park but it is an impressive monument to the fallen soldiers nonetheless.

Plans to construct the Soviet war memorials in Berlin were conceived soon after the end of the war and a group of Soviet architects – Konstantin A. Soloviev, M. Belarnzew, WD Koroljew – and the sculptor Ivan G. Perschudtschew were given the task of creating the memorial in Schönholz.

Construction of the memorial and cemetery – 13,200 of the approximately 80,000 Soviet soldiers who died in the Battle of Berlin are buried here – took place between May 1947 and November 1949 over an area of around 27,500 m2.

Names on Plaque at Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin

Set in the walls flanking the memorial are 100 plaques bearing the name, rank and year of birth of each of the 2647 soldiers it was possible to identify.

When I first made the journey to Schönholz in the North Berlin district of Pankow the memorial was closed for renovations – metal fences barred access to the grounds but I resolved to return.

The memorial was closed between early 2011 and August 2013 during which time 10.35 million Euros was spent cleaning, renovating and installing new security systems.

I returned to the Soviet War Memorial in Schönholzer Heide on a sunny afternoon soon after it reopened on the 13 August 2013.

Pillar at Entrance to Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin Entrance to Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin 002

The entrance is flanked by two granite pillars topped with a bronze sculpture of an eternal flame and bearing a wreath.  From here, an avenue of lime trees leads to the memorial grounds.

German Inscription at Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin Russian Inscription at Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin Bronze Relief of Soldier and Grieving Parents at Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin Bronze Relief of Soldier at Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin Bronze Relief of Female Soldier at Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin Military Insignia at Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin

I paused at the red granite gatehouses bearing bronze reliefs depicting victorious soldiers and the soviet people grieving the loss of loved ones, along with the insignia of the Soviet military branches.

Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin 004 Obelisk at Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin Mausoleum at Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin Mother Russia at Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin

Having walked the length of the grounds to the focal points of the memorial, the Statue of Mother Russia and the 33.5m high Obelisk, I sat on the steps to enjoy the peace and quiet.

As I sat there waiting for the moment I could take a photo looking back to the entrance without people in it, I watched as a woman lifted her toddler onto the plinth of the statue of Mother Russia, where the child proceeded to beat the cast bronze.

The same woman then dropped the cigarette she had been smoking and crushed it on the ground under her foot, where she left it.

Whilst I was still shaking my head at her lack of respect, a couple arrived with their dog, off its lead, running around on the grass above the bodies of the Russian soldiers.

Mother Russia and Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin

Thankfully, my visit and my faith in human nature were rescued by another visitor and what turned out to be a magic Berlin moment.  As I sat there an elderly gentleman approached me and asked if I speak Russian.

When I explained that I don’t, Wolfgang introduced himself in German and went on to tell me about his personal connection to the memorial.

Wolfgang had fought during the war and spent the 4 years from 1945 to 1949 in a Russian prison in Volta outside Moscow as a Prisoner of War.  He lives 30 minutes walk from the War Memorial and visits often to say thank you to the dead soldiers there who gave their lives to end the war.  He came empty handed on the day I met him but he explained that he often brings flowers from his garden.

Wolfgang then told me a little of his life after the war living in East Berlin with his wife and 2 children.

We discussed the peacefulness of the memorial, the horror and stupidity of war and the uniqueness of Berlin – ‘ich liebe Berlin’, Wolfgang told me often.

Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin 003 Eternal Flame at Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin Flowers at Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin

I can’t promise you’ll meet Wolfgang if you visit the Soviet War Memorial in Schönholzer Heide but there are plenty of symbolic touches in the monument and grounds that will lead to the contemplation of the human cost of the war and the Soviet army’s losses in the Battle of Berlin in particular.