Thursday, October 18, 2012

(der) Irak: Nichts cleveres aber lecker

Tandur Lasan is one of those places that has been blogged about by just about everyone in Berlin with a blog. This is one of my online pet-peeves and for that reason alone, I would have visited a different Iraqi establishment ... if I'd been able to find one. I came close, but everywhere else seems to have closed. So, I had no choice but to join the masses, though for clarity's sake, while I did eat at at Tandur Lasan a while back (this place is only a bakery, so you can buy their delicious flatbreads by the bagful or for 1 Euro, get a freshly baked round wrapped around a feta-like cheese) this time around I decided to go all out and vist Restaurant Lasan, their Kreuzberg outpost with a more complete menu, as well as tables and chairs. I'm frequently shocked at the places that get repeatedly blogged about here - they are so often so underwhelming I can't understand why so many people would sing their praises (except that I am a reknowned crank), but Lasan is definitely an exception. That said, I cannot explain the superimposed child in this photo from their website. Arabic food, while not as ubiquitous as Turkish, is pretty easy to come by in this city. But once you start sampling it, you realize that it's not all created equall. A schwarma at Habibi on Akazienstrasse a few weeks was one of the worst things I've eaten in a long, long time (and I recently spent two weeks in podunk bits of Scotland). It had no flavor at all (again, this summer I ate almost consecutive 50 meals in Scotland - flavor did not abound). None. They start with a piece of pita designed to last for weeks and then microwaved it. It was a sad, sad state of affairs. The bread at Restaurant Lasan, as you might have guessed, is baked fresh (to order!) in a tandur/tandoori oven. It is soft and delightfully chewy and with actual flavor. This alone elevates Lasan above just about every other Arabic restaurant in town. My vegetarian appetizer platter at Lasan came with a single piece of bread, but in addition to being delicious, it was probably 14 inches across. I couldn't even finish it, which left me with a deep sense of regret. I did however finish every morsel of my appetizer plate: hummus/hummos, muttabal (think baba ghanoush), ful, tabulle, lasan hot sauce (similar to ajvar), and zaziki (a close relative of tatziki) as well as a big glass of housemade Ayran (pleasantly effervescent and not too salty). As mentioned, you can get can order a mixed vegetarian appetizer plate throughout Berlin, but the components of my lunch were a big step above the rest. Everything tasted really, really fresh - not at all like it had been sitting in the display window for too many days. Not to mention that everything on the menu seems to come with a complimentary bowl of soup - we had the lentil, which wasn't life-changing, but was delicious. Add this deliciousness to a table outside on one of our recent sunny fall days and it's pretty hard to beat. Restaurant Lasan Adalbertstraße 96

1 comment:

  1. Where can I read about your Scotland trip? I love your blogs, btw!