This review of a Berlin restaurant is a break from The Picky Glutton’s usual London-based coverage
People never cease to surprise me. In light of the jaw-dropping levels of culinary conservatism that she demonstrated in Taipei, Chip Butty has an inexplicable fondness for Korean barbecue. We were therefore naturally compelled to eat the stuff at Kimchi Princess during our brief stay in Berlin. I would have preferred something a little more Teutonic, but what the heck.
Kimchi Princess is located in what used to be East Berlin, some way west of Treptower Park and south east of Museum Island. The dimly lit restaurant has a deliberately worn, industrial look to it with exposed ventilation ducts and corrugated steel walls in places. Sadly the outdoor benches are reserved for drinking only. The English-speaking staff are helpful and friendly, but there’s no need to get them to translate the menu as the text is in English as well as Korean and German.
Besides the dubious pleasure of Chip Butty’s company I dined at Kimchi Princess with Army Brat and Templeton Peck. We started off with kimchi pajeon, The version here is more like a pancake, whereas other versions elsewhere have resembled stuffed crepes. In any case Kimchi Princess’ version is thin and crisp with a soft centre and topped with kimchi that has only a very slight spicy kick. This severe lack of chilli punch was also evident in the small side dishes of standalone kimchi.
The steamed pork and beef dumplings were oddly reminiscent of Polish pierogi dumplings with their very thick doughy skins and filled with smoothly ground meat. The fillings were juicy and slightly salty, but the provided sesame seed oil and chilli oil dipping sauces were severely lacking in flavour.
After the underwhelming starters, I wasn’t expecting much from the barbecued meat but the portion sizes can’t be knocked – there’s a lot of meat. It’s all cooked using gas powered hot plates at your table, although once cooked the staff leave you to help yourself so it’s up to you to ensure the meat isn’t overcooked.
The thin slices of pork belly were juicy and fatty – just be careful not to leave them on the stove for too long or all the fat will sizzle away.
Beef and octopus is an unusual pairing, but here you get far more beef than octopus. The alleged spiciness was very muted which was a problem for the meaty chunks of octopus tentacles – octopus doesn’t really taste of much and is best used as a carrier for other flavours. The strips of beef were succulent and very tender though.
Sadly none of us had room for dessert. I washed my food down with rice punch which wasn’t as milky as the slightly acidic version served at Asadal back home in London. It was moderately milky and slightly sweet with an odd quasi-nuttiness that was mildly reminiscent of barley tea.
There’s some good quality meat available at Kimchi Princess, but the bold flavours of some of the dishes had been heavily toned down and there’s so little octopus in the beef and octopus barbecue that the advertising authorities should be called in. Overall it’s a hearty but merely satisfactory feed and I’d be very surprised if there weren’t better Korean restaurants in Berlin. If you’re only in Berlin for a short period, then Kimchi Princess isn’t really worth your time unless you’re completely beyond help like Chip Butty.
Name: Kimchi Princess
Address: Skalitzer Strasse 36 / Manteuffelstrasse, Kreuzberg, 10999 Berlin, Germany
Phone: 0049 163 458 0203 or 0049 30 488 12460
Opening Hours: seven days a week 18.00-23.00.
Reservations: probably a good idea
Total cost for one person including drinks when shared between four people: €30 (£25 approx. at time of writing).