Sassy food blogger Michelle of Chopstixfix heads to West Kowloon to check out if there’s more to German food than bratwurst and cabbage…
October is here, (where did this year go?!), and that can only mean one thing in Hong Kong- Oktoberfest! I’m sure you thought I would say Halloween, but if you haven’t been to the Marco Polo German Bierfest before, then you’re in for more than just a trick or treat.
I’ve attended two Bierfests since moving to Hong Kong, and my interests lie completely with the stalls of traditional German food, getting my ‘free’ Oktoberfest tankard, both of which now double up as pen pots in my flat, and having a beer.
However, if a year is too long to wait for the next sausage-fest, don’t get your knickers in a twist (excuse the pun). Cafe Deco group, (Sakesan, Cafe de Paris, Watermark), has opened their second Berliner restaurant in Olympian City 3, following the success of the original Berliner in Soho East.
Olympian City in West Kowloon is vast, and being the directionally challenged person that I am, I took ages to find my way. When I arrived, what surprised me most was that the alfresco area of Berliner and other restaurants along this outside strip of Olympian City 3, felt quite European, as if I’d been plonked in the middle of Belgium. Perhaps it was because the street was quiet, the area sprawling, but it was quite lovely, and I imagine that many people would enjoy having a beer or two outside in cooler weather and forget that they were in Hong Kong.
When I stepped into Berliner I noticed the shiny new bar, serving a variety of German beers and was greeted by several smiling staff and the bar manager, who helpfully led me to my table, right in front of the open kitchen. While I waited for my dining companions, I tortured myself by staring at the rows of whole chickens slowly spit roasting in the window and casting a glance around the spacious restaurant with nice big six to eight-seater booth tables. Eventually I tore my gaze away long enough to indulge in a mocktail- the Apfel Strudel Drink, made with apple puree, ginger beer, cream and cinnamon. Though not exactly thirst-quenching, given the cream, it was oddly tasty, like having liquidised apple strudel. Not a drink to have several rounds of though!
I was famished when it was time to get stuck into our meal, and first up was the Berliner Bratwurstschnecke, or roasted Berliner sausage. Resembling a sausage version of a cinnamon roll, the Bratwurst was roasted nicely and very well seasoned. The sauerkraut, which I become addicted to, so much so that the theme of the meal was me heaving piles of the stuff onto my plate, was a good compliment to the dish. The Wurst sausage platter with bratwurst, regensburger (beef and pork sausage that’s been smoked and then boiled), nürnberger, and White Munich (boiled veal and pork sausage), was also served with sauerkraut and roasted potatoes, and was altogether pretty satisfying. I enjoyed the nürnberger and the regensburger the most, as both seemed to have a fuller flavour, but in essence, the entire platter was prepared well, the Würste meat tender. The roast potatoes were a little too heavily and unnecessarily salted, especially as the meat was thoroughly seasoned; but that is my only complaint about the dish.
The two other main dishes we indulged in, were the Grillhähnchen (roasted half-chicken) and the Schweinshaxe (roasted pork knuckle with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut)- one of the most popular dishes of the Marco polo bierfest and a favourite amongst carnivorous males.
The roast chicken was nicely cooked; the skin crisp and the meat moist, but the pork knuckle trumped the chicken with its amazing crackling and flavoursome meat. I could have demolished the entire crackling myself, but I was also busy attacking the sauerkraut (again) and enjoying the creamy mashed potatoes.
We couldn’t finish our meal without ending on a sweet note and we ordered the Apple strudel served with vanilla ice-cream and the rhubarb crumble. Both desserts were of a good standard but I preferred the sweetened apple in the strudel to the rhubarb, though the pastry was a little soggier than I would’ve liked.
No more solid food after our puddings, but we did have room for a shot of Schnapps – I had the sour apple which was light and tasty but still had some impact on my oriental liver, but the Himbeergeist Raspberry schnapps was ridiculously strong and almost had me drunk at the first whiff and sip, after which I stopped and decided that I didn’t want to pickle my liver.
I’m glad that Hong Kong now has a little taste of Germany all year long, rather than just in October, and the casual dining atmosphere plus the great outdoor patio, affords a pleasant and relaxing eating experience. The location may be a little out of the way but due to the enormous spread of Olympian City, it is in fact, not far from Mong Kok. One thing I have to comment on is that although Berliner imports German beers, it does not, disappointingly and ironically, import local Berlin beers. This might be an aspect to address, so that if anything, customers will not wonder about the origin of the restaurant name!
Berliner Shop G18, G/F, Olympian City 3, 1 Hoi Wang Road, Kowloon
Berliner German Bar and Restaurant Shop 2b-07, G/F, 45Tai Hong Street, Lei King Wan, Sai Wan Ho