"The guest shall have a night to remember"
On the long wooden tables, waterglasses are waiting for the guests. Chairs with black cushions match with the red-black walls and lights in the spacious room. Steps are leading upstairs. The design, in- and outside, is very impressive in its consistency. It comes across as modern and inviting, stirring up a craving for a sociable night with friends. The owner, who runs the "Kimchi Princess" with 2 partners, explains that the long tables are not only supposed to emphasize the table grills but also to initiate the guests to get to know each other. In Europe it is very common for the people to keep to themselves and to share their food, if any, with close friends and family. In the "Kimchi Princess" it becomes apparent that food culture is togetherness. Sitting at the long tables it is impossible to shy away from moving closer to the neighbor or to see what others have ordered leading to a conversation. The people visiting are a mix of hip customers from the neighborhood, Korean tourists and international guests who round off the picture of togetherness.
The "Kimchi Princess" wants to present the modern Korean food culture as honest as possible, we are told while we are having tea. Whereas everyone thinks of sushi when talking about Japan, only a few know what the excellent cuisine of Korea has to offer. One of the concerns is to change this situation. In the three years that the "Kimchi Princess" has existed it was not only able to give many the opportunity to approach the cuisine but also the culture, co- founding a trend: Korea is getting more interesting and the cuisine gaining popularity. This also led to the many restaurants that started opening over the last few years, which is a big praise for the team. The team, which we were able to meet in the course of the night, is young and motivated. The commitment goes as far as sponsoring cultural events.
We enjoy our food with the supplier of the house. A friendly, bright man, who barely speaks German but who thoughtfully picks the best out of the Haemul Jeongol (seafood stew) and places them in our bowls. However we start with the Bibimbap as usual. This time the sauce is already intermixed. Non-Korean guests might prefer to decide the degree of spiciness on their own but it is not too spicy for those who are unfamiliar with the Korean cuisine. Three side dishes come with the dish which we are not able to finish because the amount of seafood, prawns, crabs and the vegetables in the stew is too large. The ingredients are raw at first but as soon as the table grill is heated- it starts to bubble and a scent starts to fan out, raising the anticipation.
This last evening of our journey through the four Korean restaurants in Berlin ends, leaving us with the comprehension what characterizes Korea the most. Namely its way to celebrate and to be a host. As a guest you will leave the "Kimchi Princess" with a happy feeling even though- and we have to be honest at this point- you have to bring a well- filled purse. The ones who decide to stay in Kreuzberg and waiting until the night closes in will also experience how the restaurant gets more convivial and the party being transferred to the adjacent sojubar. We however are heading home, full and happy just as the previous days yet full of anticipation for the more than 20 Korean restaurants which are left to explore.
© Text: Esther Klung, Photos: Kim Dinh
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