A sumptuous meal of contemporary German cuisine at Aigner Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin made guest blogger Ivan wax poetic about the city’s troubled history. Here, he delights in trendy Vietnamese at Monsieur Vuong in Berlin’s Mitte District, which is one of the most dynamic —and coolest parts — of the city.
Germany’s capital city of Berlin, and more specifically the Mitte District in what was once East Berlin, has become a masterpiece of change — a true hero in respectful recognition of past sins on human beings and architects on how to carry a burden of such guilt while springing eternal hope for redemption. It can be felt everywhere, from award-winning building designs to cutting-edge haute couture to blossoming artists to exquisitely prepared meals.
The Mitte district is comprised of contrasts, and you can feel the half-life of the recent past and walk in the near future, an atmosphere that remains in flux and seeking participants to help it take form. It is the vagabond at heart, the constant changing. It has a feel of new discovery, still in the artists’ hands before more intrepid souls venture to its borders. It is the global Williamsburg, Brooklyn of the late 90s, the East Village of the 60s, the Paris of the 40s.
The Vietnamese restaurant Monsieur Vuong is simple, yet shibui – the aesthetic of simple, subtle, unobtrusive beauty. Located in what was once the Jewish slum, Scheunenviertel, it is now an exemplary eatery that defines this trendy neighborhood, with boutique fashion, mini art galleries and other owner-operator restaurants.
Vuong’s chef designs flavorful and aromatic Vietnamese broths. Vuong is testimony to the Berliner’s tastes debating ennui with another chef changing the menu often with market, seasonal ingredients. It offers only a half dozen choices of freshly prepared soups, and a handful of appetizers. Go straight for the Pho Ga, a Vietnamese chicken noodle soup, prepared with lemongrass, rice noodles, and a chicken stock that will not have you soon forgetting this kitchen. It is sublime.
Berlin is not the most populated city of tourist friendly locals, nor can it boast an attractive climate, but it is a must visit for the seekers of what can be. Go there to be avante garde, literally, to live, however temporary, in a place that was once the definition of atrocity and is now the definition of luminosity.
Ivan is a frequent guest blogger for Travelogged. In addition to his first piece about Berlin, you can read about his trip to Iceland and watch his foodie videos about Rio, Belo Horizonte and New York City.