24 Hours To Dine: Nigel Gan's Guide To Eating & Drinking Well In Berlin
Ever an indispensable figure at whichever company he's attached to, Nigel Gan might seem naggingly familiar to loyal fans of Royal Selangor; after all, he did manage the pewter specialists' global communications portfolio for more than 3 years. Previous stints at The Majestic Hotel KL, Hilton Kuala Lumpur and The Gardens Mall underscore his affinity for marketing and PR in the luxury retail and hospitality industries.
"Perhaps it's because such positions are perfect for personalities who enjoy dining, drinking and smiling—often simultaneously," he jests. Presently the director of marketing communications at The RuMa Hotel and Residences, Gan is smitten by the pork steak at Ante in Publika, Chocha Foodstore in Chinatown and, of course, ATAS Modern Malaysian Eatery at The RuMa Hotel & Residences.
Read Our Restaurant Review: What To Order At ATAS Modern Malaysian Eatery
"When we (my wife and two close friends) decided to visit Berlin a few months ago, I was determined to soak up as much German culture (read: bier) as possible," says Gan. Read on for his favourite food and drink experiences in the capital of Germany.
An Age-Old Institution
We tried to dine as local as possible, and headed to Arema near our hotel in Moabit for breakfast on our first day. *Tip: I wouldn’t recommend staying in Moabit unless raw, old-timey experiences are what you’re after.
After struggling to figure out the menu, which was printed in German, I settled for something called Das English, which turned out to be a typical English fry-up. Halfway through our meal we realised that the restaurant was a popular hang out spot for wasps as well. Wasps in Berlin are akin to flies in KL, except they're thrice as large and equipped with stingers. So I reluctantly shared my butter and marmalade with the local wasps. Fighting off the pests didn’t allow me to take any pictures, but the creepy cover picture on the restaurant's Facebook page speaks for a multigenerational institution (and suggests that the family might haunt you if you speak ill of their food).
Beer in Berlin is always good and aplenty. Located by a lake in the middle of Parkplatz near Akademie Der Kunste, Café am Neuen See is pretty cool; the casual beer garden boasts a decent selection of beers and you get entertained by couples attempting to row boats in the lake. We also visited a cool craft beer bar located by some rail tracks in Alexanderplatz called Brauhaus Lemke Hackesher Markt.
See also: Bak Kut Teh Beer & Other Localised Brews By Modern Madness
Schnitzels & Sausages
One thing we managed to get a lot of on this trip was schnitzel and wurste. On day two, my friend suggested visiting a highly recommended restaurant called Schnitzelei. They had pretty amazing food and a very friendly waiter to boot. The next day we 'schnitzeled' again during lunch; Die Feinbäckerei has good food but a less friendly waiter. My friends ordered schnitzels whereas my wife and I decided to be adventurous by ordering the sharing platter for two. Perhaps the waiter should have clarified that 'for two' meant for two Germans, and not two diminutive Malaysians.
I was also highly keen on trying Berlin’s famed Currywurst, and made sure to order one when we stopped at the aforementioned Brauhaus Lemke. Here’s a tip: if you’re curious about Currywurst, note that it's nothing worth writing home about.
Because Berlin was rather warm in September, ice cream seemed a good idea. We discovered a quaint ice cream parlour called Jones Ice Cream in Goltzstraße. Although I’m not huge on ice cream, I would definitely recommend this place if you’re looking to cool down, but be prepared for a queue.
As someone who's past the age of being allowed into clubs, the only nightlife venue we visited was Monkey Bar in Bikini Berlin shopping mall, which offers a decent view of the city and the Berlin zoo (hence the bar's name). The ambience and décor was cool, the music wasn’t too loud, and the drinks and service weren't too bad, especially considering the fact that it was pretty packed.