Arirang 2 Korean sequel that doesn’t disappoint

This is not a place to come for the ambience, in which to linger over your meal and whisper sweet fuck-me’s into your Tinder date’s ear. (We’ve known crack dens that are more welcoming). So if it’s not for the blinding office lights or the air with a humidity of 95% grease, why is it rammed every night? And why did Kreuzbergers rejoice at news that Arirang was to open its second restaurant down the never-ending Reichenbergerstraße? Basically ‘cos this Korean is the real deal.

The main attraction at this cult establishment is undoubtedly the barbecued meat. Simply choose your animal and pray that you skipped lunch earlier—these do-it-yourself grills are as tasty as they are plentiful. The pork dumplings (fried) and seafood pancakes (deep fried) are two other star performers, with an array of free side dishes (kimchi, rice, pickles, etc.) trying in vain to beat back that future, totally-worth-it heart attack. Surprisingly, their bibimbap is a total non-event and should be skipped. Otherwise, get ready to feel the burn of authentic North Korea.

Crackers Culinary playground

Legendary nightclubs are slowly morphing into trendy restaurants. Or so it seems in Berlin. Following hot on the heels of Weekend’s relaunch, Cookies has now reopened as Crackers—an ultra slick restaurant that is set to be the toast of the town during fashion weeks, art weeks, hell, any old week.

After 20 years of calling the shots in numerous iterations of his eponymous bars and clubs, Heinz Gindullis (more often known as “Cookie”) finally took down the disco ball in the summer of 2014. In its place today hang two giant golden-hued chandeliers, and on the former dance floor is a raised open-plan platform for dining. Designed by architects Laura Rave and Jörg Schumann, it’s a straight-up lesson in urban cool—undeniably chic yet still casual—with the potential to spill over into a little party thanks to the four-times-per-week DJ sets and mingle-worthy bar space. But before that, the food…

Acclaimed vegetarian chef Stephan Hentschel (of Cookies Cream fame) is marshalling things in the kitchen, which guests must walk through on arrival, but concessions have been made this time around to the carnivores out there. And thanks be to God, because the zander ceviche with pomegranate and sweet potato chips is a deliciously fresh starter, that is well followed by a succulent slab of pork and aromatic herbs. Veggies, or sweet tooths, will not leave unsatisfied either. Combining the two, actually, is the avocado and chocolate truffle dessert—which is many different types of lush. Berliners, you have a new late-night culinary playground.

Cafe Pförtner To the back of the bus

The name of the game at Cafe Pförtner is understatement. Most of the seating is shabby or at least semi-outdoors (say on a rickety old school bus) and orders have to be lodged at a busy counter in front of the restaurant’s only visible menu. So far, so curious… Yet since opening in 2011, it has steadily grown into a word-of-mouth favorite with regulars that go from trendy to fogey and back again. Why you holler? Simply ’cos Cafe Pförtner is small on pretension, big on charm, and massive on home-cooked goodness.

Situated in a somewhat secluded red-brick building by the Uferstudios in ever-becoming Wedding, one of the bistro owners, Daniel, is from Germany and the other, Christian, hails from northern Italy—which explains why their dishes often have an Italian twist to them. Fine fish and fresh pasta usually grace the chalkboard but the offering changes daily, making every meal quite the carpe diem experience. Coming from a concert at Piano Salon Christophori next door? Undo one or two buttons on the collar and queue up; you’ve entered Pförtner’s doors.

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