Every so often, I wake up and think, "Today I need some Chinese food." And then, if I don't immediately go and eat some steamed dumplings or hot-and-sour soup, I spend the rest of the week in a weird funk where nothing else really tastes good or appeals to me. I don't have this admittedly strange habit with any other cuisine. Maybe it's a low-grade MSG addiction?
I think it harks back to my childhood when my father would faithfully order takeout from a Chinese restaurant near our apartment once a week. Not a single week went by without moo goo gai pan (2nd grade), moo shu pork (3rd grade), hot-and-sour soup (5th grade) and so on. In college and my New York years, I graduated to much spicier stuff, but my weekly calls to the local Chinese joint always remained a constant.
Let's not get into how much I miss "real" Chinese food in Berlin. I've beaten that one to death. Instead, let me tell you about how last week, I woke up with my faithful hankering and went to Aroma with my mother for gai lan and roast pork. It hit the spot.
After trying a lot of mediocre Chinese places in Berlin (from Ming Dynastie across from the Chinese embassy to the many holes-in-the-wall on Kantstrasse), Aroma is where I go whenever I need Chinese food. It reminds me of fancy Chinese restaurants in the States, with thick carpeting, an all-male wait staff and high prices. A good sign is that there are always a lot of Chinese families eating at the round tables.
Aroma has the tastiest dim sum in Berlin (it's not the Greatest Dim Sum Ever!, but it does the trick and that's good enough for me - here's Mel's post that never fails to make my stomach growl) and although I ignore about 99% of their menu, I can never resist the gai lan (Chinese broccoli) or bok choy or pea shoots (if they have them).
To round out my order of delicious Chinese broccoli (crisp-tender, fragrant with garlic and sweet), I asked for a plate of barbecued pork, which was lacquered in the signature Chinese style. There was far too much of it, but it was tasty as could be. (Plus, never forget that leftover Chinese pork and cold rice make for a very nice fried rice the next day.)
My mother made the mistake of ordering some gloopy noodle dish with vegetables and pork that was totally insipid. So be forewarned, folks. You still have to be on your guard. The forces of bland, pan-Asian food lurk everywhere. But if you order wisely, you could be enjoying rice noodle rolls and stir-fried Chinese greens and lacquered pork very soon.
Aroma China Restaurant
(030) 375 91 628