DUDU, Pan Asian Food, Mitte

I’ve never hankered after one of those classic beige and brown Louis Vuitton totes, the ones that never go on sale and purportedly out of fashion. Not wanting a Louis Vuitton bag in Berlin is no biggie because obvious brand names (unless they’re vintage or second-hand, in which case they are ok) are avoided and ostentatious displays are in very bad taste, except in some parts of former West Berlin where girls in their twenties still wear pearl studs in their ears.  But from where I came, London, everyone wanted one.  No sooner had you scraped enough money together to buy the (cheaper) Marc by Marc Jacobs, an actual Marc Jacobs being the price of rent (although I do prefer the cheaper brand) then the season would change and it would be out with zips and in with something else.  (I don’t miss shopping for sport, or happiness, or whatever it was I was doing in London one little bit.  Although I admit that when I first moved here, it used to freak me out that the shops were - still are closed on Sundays.)All this to say, that even though I might deride those that have / want LVS bags I still love the guides.

Yes they do guide books, something you wouldn’t know unless you’ve braved the two behemoth security men that flank the door (if you have the chance, visit the gift shop at the Musee des Arts Décoratifs in Paris and browse at your leisure).  I discovered them quite by accident when I snuck into the Louis Vuitton Shop in Selfridges (much less scary to visit a concession).  I was intrigued, the European guide came as a box set only so I chose New York guide and it was like having a friend show me the city.  It wasn’t, as I had feared, filled with over priced, over hyped restaurants but with real jewels of the city.  Through LV New York I discovered Rice to Riches, a pickle shop (possibly this one), Shake Shack (oh I could so have a burger, curly fries and a frozen custard right now!).  It was a great trip, my husband was so impressed that I was such a local never noticing the thin chocolate box covered book I kept looking at.

In the LV Berlin Guide Dudu is listed, Transit and Kuchi aren’t.  I’ve been twice, both times for lunch.  I went for the set lunch each time.  First time I had a seaweed salad followed by a large sushi rice roll, filled with panko coated shrimp.  Second time, a soft rice paper roll and then again a large roll.  There are other things on the menu besides large rolls but I haven’t tried them yet since I can’t resist the €8 menu.  Going by those rolls, I imagine it’s all good.  Which considering their tiny kitchen (so tiny, that on one occasion I spotted veg prep being done in the hallway of the school above the restaurant) is impressive.

Don’t go by the picture on their homepage, in fact think the opposite.  As opposed to a blindingly white restaurant, you will be sitting in a cosy room, sharing communal tables and benches.  Service is very friendly.  In the summer everyone crowds into the small terrace in front of the restaurant, among the birdcages the potted plants and dark bamboo screens blocking out the traffic of Torstrasse.

Torstr. 134
10119 Mitte
T. 030 51736854

Themroc, one choice, 3 cooks, Mitte

Themroc, Torstraße 183, Mitte

 The Themroc ‘concept’, if you will, is one menu served to all. One menu meaning the same starter, main course and dessert. We don’t all have to eat it at once, in fact the cook prefers it if the seatings are staggered. That’s not all. There are three cooks. Yorgos a Greek artist, Laurent who was also our waiter the night we went and a Persian (who wasn’t there but is the owner, we were told).  Of the 6 days they are open, each day has a different menu.

They serve 34 people a night and most nights they are full.  The food doesn’t start coming out until around 7:30 - 8:00.  More like 8:00 pm.

Laurent takes periodical cigarette breaks out front and after most of the mains have gone out, Yorgos starts doing the same.   Laurent tells us that at midnight, they have to move the party indoors where everyone can stay as long as they want, drinking and chatting.

The green and white awning and Laurent whizzing past with drinks

The whole concept and place made me think of the closing months of my senior year.  The hard work is over, once feral teachers have turned all fuzzy around the edges, random moments seem poignant because you know that this is it: life will never again be this simple.  You are in an atypical and unusual window of time.  As a result, you (me, back then) are over-confident, slightly euphoric, brimming with possibilities.

Grilled courgette, goat cheese and mushroom

I kept feeling wisps of that all night at Themroc and I get it in a lot of other places in Berlin.  The city is still flush with whimsical concepts like this one and what’s more they do well.  I suppose some might say it’s one of the draws of Berlin. Read more of this post


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