Here´s to a new category! New places I ran into that are my absolute favourite. For now. Because there are so many nice places in Berlin (and beyond) that I´ll probably end up with lots of favourites 🙂
Today my new favourite is Gobento Shiro, a small Japanese place close to S-Bahn Prenzlauer Allee, which gave me one of the most original food experiences in a long time. Last week they also opened a branch in Kreuzberg.
Gobento is hidden behind scaffolding in a not so attractive-looking street. Or in other words; typical Berlin. Once inside, the decoration is minimalistic with about 26 seats. I was there on a Wednesday and it became quite full over the course of the evening, so reserving is probably best.
Gobento serves Japanese lunch boxes and desserts, and for dinner you can get an extra course. Don´t expect sushi, but rather Japan from another angle. You basically get about 6 different small dishes and each are a flavour explosion on their own. There is only 1 menu – the one of that evening – so no need for lengthy deliberations on what you feel like tonight. Of course you can say it if you don´t eat certain products.
The place is run by one guy, seemingly entirely on his own but also entirely relaxed about that. He makes a limited amount of food per evening and therefore doesn´t do 2nd seatings. This means that once you take your seat you can stay as long as you want; you´re not in a hurry, and he definitely isn´t either! Instead he goes out of his way to make sure you´re having a good time, working meticulously to present you with crafty food.
We started with a lunch box, which included beetroot-infused ginger, a smoked salmon “sushi”, delicious fried dumplings, and a rice-filled omelette “bag” topped with grilled aubergine. The second course included a tiny hamburger and grilled octopus. The dessert was icecream and strawberries on semi-cooked sour bread dough. I think the pictures speak for themselves: it was such a treat!
With the food you can take as much Japanese tea as you like for free or ask for a cruse of tap water. Other drinks aren´t served, so you can bring them yourself! I almost felt back in Australia, getting our own bottle of white wine out of our cooler bag and seeing others coming in with whole baskets of drinks.
To bridge the time in between the courses Gobento has a nice selection of games and you can also bring your own. It makes for a great atmosphere with people chatting, dining, and playing games.
Last but not least, we paid 23 EUR each for the whole dinner. If you only go for the box, it makes for a very affordable lunch. For Berlin it´s still on the pricey side, but considering the food is all freshly prepared and something very different (at least than what I´m used to), I think the pricing is fair.
I´d say: try it out!