Kimchi Princess, Kreuzberg

We had an ominous beginning with Kimchi Princess. We made reservations on the weekend of 24th-25th of September. Got into the car, stomachs rumbling, thinking half an hour from Mitte to Kreuzberg was entirely reasonable. 2 hours later after driving to the far ends of Berlin and still not being able to take a right and dizzy with hunger we ended up at an upmarket Italian called Adnan in Charlottenburg picking over an enormous oval sized pizza.

We called some local friends to find out the reason for the chaos.  ”What? You’re out?!” they laughed at us.  ”It’s the Berlin Marathon.  No one leaves their house by car this weekend!”

Lesson learned. 

What I really craved (that night and on a daily basis) was spicy food, variety, texture and a bit of fun.  That’s what you get at Kimchi Princess.  It’s not the best Korean food I’ve ever had but it’s pretty good, really good-by Berlin standards (I often find flavours here dulled down).  

The Bibimbap is generous, with rice that is well cooked and forms a satisfying crust at the bottom.  There are a lot of vegetables, not enough meat and a fried egg with a runny centre plopped on top of it all.  It comes with 4-5 dishes of Kimchi and pickles.  The vinegary daikon with black sesame and the sliced cucumber kimchi are my favourites.

Kimchi Princess makes me think of a Wagamama gone bad, like a fuzzy little Mogwai that get’s splashed with water and turns into a Gremlin.  The bench seating is there but it’s dark wood and entirely more basic, without the central legs that makes Wagamama benches so easy to slide in and out of.  More than 2/3 of the lighting is red neon, which makes you feel like you are in a nightclub not a restaurant (also makes it hard to take pictures).  And it’s smelly, oh so smelly, all that meat frying around you, no extraction.  You leave imbued with meat and kimchi aroma, to the point that it would be an imposition to the other viewers if you went to the movies afterwards.

The service is odd, not unfriendly but a little bit distracted.  As a table of six on Saturday, 4 of us got our Bibimbap after 20 minutes and the two that had ordered the BBQ had to wait another half an hour.  Another time when it was just the two of us we waited 45 minutes for our Bibimbap.  I guess the rule of thumb is go hungry but not starving.

Stingy bibimbap meat portions, smelliness and service aside, Kimchi Princess is fast becoming one of our regular dinner haunts.  It’s a great place to go with a group of friends, the Korean eating style lends itself to informal group eating.

If you go on the weekend, it’s best to reserve.  Oh and expect to wash your hair after you get home.

Skalitzer Strasse 36 / Ecke Manteuffelstrasse
Berlin - Kreuzberg
Tues-Sun 18:00 - 23:00 (not open for lunch)
T. (0)163 4580203

15 Responses to Kimchi Princess, Kreuzberg

  1. Marguerite says:

    What a great writeup! I have yet to got, and thanks for the heads up bon potentially smelly hair and clothes - I am known to avoid eating outside of my office at lunch for fear of the dreaded post-resto smell!

  2. mel says:

    are there any other korean places in berlin you’d recommend. i’m craving bibimbap now!

    • Marguerite says:

      There is this funky hole-in-the-wall place on Pallasstr. called Ixthus. Not the most romantic place, but good food and great prices! It’s kept by 2 super christian korean ladies and there are bible texts all over the place but they are very very nice!

      • Robert says:

        The Ixthus joint is very good. Another favorite of me is Yam Yam in Mitte. They serve nice food and have a good of variety of dishes.
        And don’t forget Korean Sori in Prenzlberg. An even smaller place than Ixthus. Expect to wait a while but the atmosphere and te food is very good.

  3. I’ve only eaten at Yam Yam once and I didn’t like it all that much, maybe they were having an off day?
    I tried to go to Sori in P’Berg based on the Korean restaurant write up Exberliner did but they were closed for lunch on Sundays (even though Exberliner had listed it as open). Still have to try it.
    The Ixthus place sounds good. I love when people are over the top.

  4. We spent five wonderful weeks in S. Korea several years ago. I can tell you from experience, that it is the Korean style to build a meal around vegetables and have meat play a smaller role. What you described is entirely typical of bibimbap, a dish that quickly became my favorite, as I am not a big meat eater.

    And the smells! Korea is a crowded little country, with many people packed into its urban areas. The unmistakable smell of fermented garlic from the kimchi eaters, i.e., everybody, was everywhere, especially in the underground subways. I grew to not like the smell, and to this day, do not care for kimchi, though my husband still loves it.

    I would go back to S. Korea in a heartbeat., if only for the food.


  5. Lisa says:

    Kimchi Princess, why thats me! hahaha j/k. This place looks like a hip joint with some serious low, red lighting? And Korean BBQ joints always have a lovely stink but darn good!

  6. Sylee says:

    I had a wonderful bibimbap at Madang on Gneisenaustraße. I forget which one it was — they have quite a few — but I think it was one of the more expensive ones, served in a stone bowl with thin beef slices and a raw egg to stir through. Lovely spicy sauce, great sides too. The desserts were a disaster though — rice cakes straight out of the deep freeze, poo! I’ve wanted to go back before writing about it…

    And I agree, the little old lady who runs Sori is a real charmer.

  7. Babychili says:

    We can’t get good Korean food in San Francisco, either. I actually don’t mind the smelliness. I’d much rather that my hair smell of grilled ribeye than cigarette smoke. :)

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