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Berlin - which is better location for nearby, inexpensive food?

Many of the side streets of the Ku'Damm have a huge selection of lovely restaurants, you'll find everything from Thai, Japanese, Indian, Italian, Turkish, often very affordable and sometimes very good. Uhland- and Knesebeckstrasse are just two examples, you'll also find many such restaurants on Kantstrasse. Potsdamerplatz is definitely worth visit but there is not a single, small independant restaurant in the entire area, the food there is mainly provided by chain restaurants, Tony Romas, McDonalds, Starbucks etc. And Friedrichstrasse, where a number of Berlin's top-scale hotels are located, doesn't have much choice either. No offense, but American tourist seem to prefer Mitte over West Berlin and I suspect this is because it's more familiar to them, everything is new and built in sort of a contrived Disneyland/Las Vegas manner while the area around Ku'Damm is authentic and has organically grown over the decades. Just my opinion of course.

I'd consider the Swissotel instead of the Palace if they decide to stay in West Berlin, it's closer to the side streets I mentioned and a more modern, nicer hotel for about the same price. They can have a very affordable lunch there at their Restaurant 44 which is 18 Gault Millau points and has a Michelin star. Rooms are all fit with a Lavazza espresso maker too :-D . Alternately, the Hotel Linder or the Concorde are both excellent as well, all three are located on Ku'Damm at the height of the Zoo station.

I'm not sure Alexanderplatz is the best location if they want to stay in the East, it's not that nice an area and there's lot of building going on at the moment. If they do, I can recommend the restaurant Thai Inside on Dircksenstrasse 37, 5 minutes walk from the Alexanderplatz station, it's one of the best Thai restaurants in Berlin.

Europe: which restaurants are worth the trip from US?

Restaurant Philippe Rochat in Crissier, Switzerland. But not if you think El Bulli or the Fat Duck are really the best restaurants in the world. Rochat is highly creative but doesn't rely on gimmicks, he serves real food the best way possible in a room that's neither fancy nor modern nor full of tourists or celebrities.

Going to Berlin for Wiener Schnitzel and Tafelspitz

For excellent Austrian cuisine and a fantastic selection of Austrian wines, I can highly recommend the restaurant Ottenthal at Kantstrasse 153, which can be reached easily on foot from the Bahnhof Zoo, Gedächtniskirche area. Their food is a nice mix between classic Austrian and slightly creative cuisine, dishes like the Wienerschnitzel or Tafelspitz are prepared traditionally.

Service is very friendly, crowd is suprisingly young but everybody is welcome of course. They currently have lots of asparagus on their menu, in this weather, reserving a table outside is a good idea even though the tables will be out to the busy Kantstrasse.

Non-perishable food that's hard to find in Switzerland

I'm kinda an expert on the topic, being an American living in Switzerland. Some news: Reeses, which I really do crave, have been available for about a year at selected shops. I crave for Almond Joys, Bits of Honey and Pay Day bars. I also wouldn't at all mind a Hostess cherry fruit pie, some Funny Bones and Twinkies.

Tortilla chips are easy to get, what you can't get though are Fritos, my favorite variety. Peanut butter is everywhere but I don't like it, it's usually some Dutch brand, Jif or Skippy can't be found. I'd ask for grape jelly to go with the peanut butter.

Drinks. You can get Dr. Pepper, Root beer but no Hawaiian Fruit Punch or Welch's Grape soda. Switzerland's large supermarket chain Migros started carrying Mountain Dew about a year ago, what a joy, but they dropped it after less than a month, I guess I was the only person there buying the stuff. How about some Koolaid?

Sour cream, black beans, chilis, vanilla extract, rice vermicelli ... all no problem.

Good, plain barbeque sauce is hard to find. Cheddar is available everywhere but it's British and actually a very good cheese but it's not the bright orange processed stuff. Cheeze Whiz also can't be found, I wouldn't be surprise if there was some law against that here. Finally, english muffins are available at COOP.

Zurich Street Vendor Food

They're actually called hot dogs and the sausage is a normal frankfurter. The sausages are heated in steaming cylinder and the hole in the sausage is made with a heated spike. This is what these machines look like, unfortunately they run on 220 V so you'd need an adapter when running on 110 V

The password is.... CHEAP!

I'm far from being a japanese food expert but I've visited the country recently and can share a few tips that may be useful.

To me it seemed that the best deals were available at lunch time, even upper-end restaurants offer fixed-priced lunch menus that appeared a lot more affordable than their dinner menu.

On my travels, I don't really fall back on department store restaurants but in Japan it's different. Many departement stores have three floors of restaurants which offer an incredibly diverse range of japanese food. By the lines of people waiting to be seated, it's pretty easy to see which of them are good. The food halls in these department stores are also a great place to browse, you'll find many amazing items but you won't know what most of them are.

Hotel concierges in Japan are usually incredilbly helpful, in no other country have I used their services as much as there. Tell them what you're looking for, ask them about local food and recommendations where to get them, they'll be more than glad to help.

Mar 11, 2007
Snahlami in Japan

Please help identify this food

Thank you very much, Debbie. I was imaging something like meat and potato croquettes and never would have thought it was a sweet.

Mar 11, 2007
Snahlami in General Topics

Please help identify this food


I came across this ad for what I believe is a restaurant in the Asakusa subway station. The food displayed looks really tempting but I unfortunately didn't have time to try it out. Can anybody identify the dish and say if it is indeed an ad for a restaurant.

Entire ad:


Thanks very much in advance for your help

S. Lami

Mar 11, 2007
Snahlami in General Topics

Foodie Souveniers from Germany

The German distillery Ziegler makes some outstanding eau-de-vies. These fruit-based brandies are very typical for Germany and Ziegler is certainly one of the best producers. I particularly like their "Alte Zwetschge" (old prune) and they also have some interesting and unusual kirschs in their line. The bottles are availabe in the standard, half and miniature (5cl) sizes so it's easy to bring back home a few different kinds without going over your county's import limit. The small ones will probably even fulfill the new "liquids in airplane cabin" regulations.

You can find Ziegler and many other special German foods in the food halls of the department stores Kaufhof and Karstadt.

S. Lami

Shop for plastic food in Tokyo or Kyoto?

Thank you very much for the replies, Kappabashi is exactly the word I needed to know.

S. Lami

Oct 26, 2006
Snahlami in Japan

Shop for plastic food in Tokyo or Kyoto?

I'll be in Japan next month and would love to pick up some of that plastic food which is on display in the windows of many restaurants in Japan. There must be stores that sell these items but I've never come across one on previous trips.

Thanks in advance

S. Lami

Oct 25, 2006
Snahlami in Japan

Uber-Chowhound visits Chicago -- need steak, expectations high

If Luger's, Bern's and RC are only "acceptable" then I can only concede that your taste is very different from that of the rest of world. Exactly what element is missing which deems these steaks merely average and not great? Have you ever actually had a steak which you thought was great? Was it at home or does there actually exist a restaurant which is so vastly superiour to the world's greatest steak-houses?

S. Lami

Oct 25, 2006
Snahlami in Chicago Area

Ko Samui or Hua Hin

It really depends a bit from where you'll be traveling there and what your next stop will be. From Bangkok, it's a couple of hours by car to Hua Hin and about a good hour by plane to Ko Samui.

Ko Samui is a destination which mainly caters to foreign tourists, there's lots more hotels, some very luxurious and the beaches are much nicer than in Hua Hin. The two main towns are typical holiday spots which could be anywhere in the world. Hua Hin seems to be more geared towards Thais. The main public beach isn't that attractive and there's only a few really nice hotels, mainly the Sofitel Central which is one of the lovliest hotels I've ever stayed in, it's not inexpensive though.

Despite the very average beach, I vastly prefer Hua Hin. It's a typical small Thai town which just happens to be located at the ocean. The food is generally much better than in Samui as it's prepared to please locals and not foreign tourist. One big attraction is the huge seafood restaurant which is on a pier over the water, there's also a night market where I had some of the best bbq chicken ever.

So, for food and local flair, Hua Hin is the better recommendation, if you want a nice beach holiday with Western style nightlife, shopping etc., Ko Samui is the place to go. 2 1/2 days seems a little short for Samui but fine for Hua Hin if you're traveling through that area anyway.

Barbeque Chicken in Thailand

Thank you all very much for your replies. Austin, your food blog is outstanding and I will become a regular reader.

S. Lami

Gourmet Germany?

if you're in the region anyway, why not have dinner in Germany's best restaurant, the Schwarzwaldstube of the Hotel Traube in Tonbach

It's a 3 Michelin star, 19.5 Gault Millau points experience in case you're interested in this kind of dining. Expect to pay around $150 per person without wines.

S. Lami

Jul 16, 2006
Snahlami in Europe

Barbeque Chicken in Thailand

Hello All

I've had fabulous barbequed chicken in Thailand, e.g a plumb, incredibly flavorful one at the Night Market in Hua Hin. But the best I've ever had was in a restaurant in Bangkok. I can't remember the name of the place but it was next to a golf driving range, pretty much in the middle of the city. Apparently the chickens used were the skinny, black-feathered ones from Chiang Mai. The dish itself consisted of very thin plates of chicken still on the bone. The meat was very dry, almost like a jerky and it came from the grill. It was served together with a sauce that was perfumed with a secretion of a big black beetle! The sauce itself had a minty, lemony taste. Together with the meat it was one of the best things I've ever tasted. Other dishes at the restaurant were incredible as well, like tempura out of fresh corn kernels and a salad from banana tree blossoms.

Is this type of chicken found throughout Thailand or was it a speciality of this particular restaurant? I'd love to have it again but I'll never find the place again. It was recommended by a hotel bellhop and the card of the place was stolen together with my wallet a few years ago.

Thanks for any suggestions

S. Lami