I-ke-Su, Wilmersdorf

We’ve been trying new places all over Berlin and I-ke-Su, on Uhlandstraße in Wilmersdorf, is going to become a regular on our list of go-to restaurants.

I-ke-Su is a kai tan sushi restaurant, the kind of place where the rolls are pulled around the restaurant on a conveyer belt and you grab what you like. I-ke-Su takes the concept to a delightfully kitschy place by using a tiny stream with wooden boats.

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Sorry for the blur. Those boats were moving at a nice clip!

The best part, from a family perspective, is the decor. In addition to the boats, the entire bar area is surrounded by a salt-water aquarium. S was especially charmed by the itty-bitty starfish clinging to the glass directly in front of her. What’s more – we got her to try a bit of a cooked salmon roll even though there was sauce touching the fish!

A major victory on more than one count!

You can find I-ke-Su at Uhlandstr. 157  by taking the U9 or U3 to Spichernstr.

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Dokmai, Steglitz

We were in need of a change of culinary pace. More specifically, we needed a Thai restaurant. Now you may see in my archives that we have a neighborhood Thai place, but no more. Sadly, Sarod’s changed management and isn’t up to what it used to be.

And that’s why we had to go to Steglitz. I can’t tell you much else about Steglitz, since my experiences there are limited to walking from the S-Bahn to my new favorite Thai restaurant. I can’t take credit for the find, however, that was entirely Jon. It was his idea to look up the nearest Thai restaurant to the Thai embassy and voila! There’s was Dokmai.

The restaurant is small and the service is friendly. We’ve been twice and both times I ordered the basic – but telling! – Pad Thai. Its perfect; its tasty, and what’s more, it was exactly the same on both visits!

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This spicy, basil chicken was delicious, too. Can you see the peppercorns? So good.

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Don’t mind the schlep? Find Dokmai Muthesiusstraße 38 by taking the S1 or U9 to Rathaus Steglitz.

 

 

Neta, Mitte

Oh, Neta.

After a very hot Schifffahrt down the Spree, I insisted on stopping at Neta for lunch. Like most Americans, I have a strong possibly ironic relationship to Mexican food. There cannot be enough of it and it can’t be spicy enough. A terrible lack of good Mexican food is the scourge of most European expats. So it was a surprisingly hot day – we’ve had more than enough of those in Berlin – and we’d just gotten off of a boat. I hate boats. I needed comfort.

So off to Neta.

At 12:30 there was only one other table, which should have been enough of a warning, but I reasoned it away with the the idea that its Sunday morning and most of Berlin is either still asleep or nursing a hangover over brunch.

I can’t say there was anything I enjoyed about the meal. The tacos were overstuffed and cold and Jon’s burrito came with the wrong filling. We very quickly decided that Delores is the better Mexican option in Berlin — although we still have to try Maria Bonita or Chapparo.
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The boat ride down the Spree, however, was a big success for those of us who enjoy water-related activities. S spent the entire hour incredibly transfixed on the water.

Our boat, with Reederei Riedel, started outside of Hauptbahnhof and sailed east just past the Nikolaiveirtel. There are plenty of other cruise companies should you have a more specific wish to see something. We were just looking for something new to do with S. The hour-long ride was a little too long for her (there were a few babies on board who were very vocal about just how long it was), but she found the experience interesting enough and now we can check it off of our Berlin list.

Next she wants to take a train trip to a new city. Where should we go? S doesn’t care as long as she’s in the train for a long time!

Johnny’s, Roland Park

Everybody needs a brunch place. We’ve found ours.

I saw Johnny’s ad boasting “west coast food”  in “Baltimore” magazine. Having no idea what this would mean (quinoa and avocado, possibly?), we had to find out.

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Nothing out of the ordinary, but certainly good food and good coffee.

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The restaurant has a children’s menu, but its not available at breakfast. S shared a stack of pancakes with her dad and, of course, sampled from my plate, as well. She kept and then had to go directly to Gramma’s house to show off our new masterpiece.

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Sorry about the lack of posts. I started working and we haven’t had our usual leisure time to explore Baltimore. 

Cafe Spice, Cockeysville

We’re slowly building up our new repertoire of local restaurants. One of our first discoveries was Cafe Spice in Cockeysville.

Its one of the first places we’ve found that we really look forward to going back too.

Even S likes it. When she was a very little baby, she used to like dipping naan in the sauces until one day when she just decided no, I only eat very bland yellow food. Recently, she started to include pappadum on her list of S approved cuisine, so now I feel less guilty about taking her to Indian restaurants. Of course, mango lassis are still her absolute favorite.

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Vitaly Caffe, Costa Mesa

“Not good ice cream…like in Germany

That’s what S said when we took her to the Sprinkles ice cream shop in Newport Beach. I agree; its not worth the hype, and so we went without one of our favorite outings for a while. That is until Vitaly Caffe opened in Costa Mesa’s The Camp. Now we can get real Italian gelato (gelato is very popular in Germany); the best we’ve ever had on this side of the world.

See? It was so good they would hardly even let me take a photo of it.

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And don’t leave without trying some of their cookies. These are the only three that survived the car ride home…and I didn’t even share with S. They were just too delicious. From the top going clockwise:  dama, baci di dama, and my favorite,  cantucci cookies.

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We’ll be fitting in as many visits as we can during our remaining time here. Along with many trips to the gym.

fresh bread in the land of constant dieting

California is famous for its sourdough, but what do you do if you don’t like sourdough and still crave fresh bread?

Enter sangak.

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 Ok, so technically (according to Wikipedia) it is still sourdough, but its so much better. Doughy, chewy, some crisp edges and a healthy smattering of sesame seeds. In fact, its even been voted best bread in orange and one of the top 100 dishes.  No wonder the bakery has a two per person limit.

Fukada, Irvine

I just realized today that I have never written about our favorite restaurant in Irvine. In fact, the only thing any of us missed while we were in Berlin.

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S even uses chopsticks…she’s usually culinary utensil adverse.

Fukada is very family friendly place and you’ll probably see at least three or four families with small children there. You’ll also probably see a large crowd waiting by the door. Do yourself a favor and don’t go right at dinner time and avoid lunch all together. S and I showed up once 15 minutes before they opened and there was already a line 20 people long. We were not happy girls, but hey, it is the best soba in Orange County.

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We’re also big fans of their iced green tea. I once look on in amazement while she downed two of those glasses, one right after the other. She was so hyped up on tea, that she even ate all of the spinach in her soup, but shhh! I won’t tell if you don’t.

So three (quiet) cheers for Fukada! And take your utensil-adverse, vegetable-refusing kids if you go.

 

 

Din Tai Fung, Arcadia

We stopped at Din Tai Fung for lunch before our visit to the Getty. Personally, I was leaning towards the Getty cafeteria, which I know is weird, but you would too if you tried their veggie burgers. They’re really good veggie burgers!

Its entirely possible that the view coupled with the ease of a cafeteria on a toddler-toting mom colors my feelings for this veggie burger. I am also fond of the veggie burger at the grill next to the koala’s at the San Diego Zoo. Also, good veggie burgers are non-existant in Germany. Good regular burgers are pretty tough to find, too.

But let’s focus on this for now.

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Jon took this shot of our xiaolongbao or soup dumplings. This is what Din Tai Fung is famous for and you might have to wait for it –  I’ve heard of people waiting hours on line at the Din Tai Fung branch in Taiwan. Go during the week, like we did, and walk right in. S didn’t like Din Tai Fung very much. Its not our usual chinese restaurant and when you’re almost three and your mom makes you do something new you have to rebel.

And by “rebel” I mean try to touch all of your mom’s noodles before she has a chance to get them from the bowl to her mouth.

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I was prepared to leave the restaurant without a photo of my soy sauce, but Jon insisted. He was really happy with the ginger, strangely happy, but he mixes dumpling sauce so well that I let him go with it. Image