Milky miso soup, sake served cold and wasabi mashed potatoes: before you rush to accuse ULA of compromising for the sake of Western tastes, you may be somewhat surprised that these are, in fact, culinary inclinations brought in straight from the Japanese mainland.
ULA—its name meaning “unexpected”—should receive an award simply for its ambition in providing Berlin an authentic slice of Japanese sake culture and omotenashi service. Head chef Daisuke Nakashima originally hails from Kyoto, but has taken the reigns everywhere from the upscale eatery Kushinoya to even preparing meals for celebrities, dignitaries and German ministers at the Japanese ambassador’s home in Berlin. Though he’s licensed to prepare blowfish, his focus at ULA centers mainly around especially tender plates of beef served alongside seasonal vegetables and sauces. That, however, should not discount from their sushi, tempura and main-course fish selections that easily rival the best Japanese offerings in Berlin.
Yet ULA also doubles outside of its gastronomic offerings with its bar, where the imported sake—alongside didactic lessons in sake culture—greet all those who take a seat. Adding a basement gallery to it all, ULA-Berlin results in a Japanese experience so immersive that perhaps Tokyo would be wise to shift its diplomatic presence to the blue corner house on Anklamer Strasse.