Berlin Night

25 September 2023

a story from a night in Berlin in September 2023

Max had made a new friend in Berlin and she invited him to China - City, the best place for Chinese food in Berlin according to her mother. I was invited too but I wanted to climb that evening so I ditched dinner, but I joined them later after dinner. He had the keys to our apartment so we had to meet up eventually.

I could have taken the bus but I decided to walk a half hour. Walking is a great way to discover what a neighborhood has to offer, every shop or restaurant I pass that’s half interesting, I’ll mark down on a map for later. I planned on getting döner for dinner but was stopped by this wacky clip art looking crown wearing peanut on the sign for Basmah, a Sudanese restaurant. I took my time on the sidewalk, looking up reviews and translating the menu before walking in. The guy behind the counter took my order and like a time traveling yo-yo, I sat down just to be summoned back to the counter for my food. He asked me something in German and I blindly said “ja” so he proceeded to drench my meal in peanut sauce. Pretty good, just don’t forget to add hot sauce.

After my dinner, I kept walking, passing closed shops, bustling bars, packed restaurants, and a couple of kids filming a music video under an overpass. Arriving, I walked into the Chinese restaurant to a sight that felt like just like the banquet hall style Dim Sum restaurants in Hong Kong. I’ve seen that same style of restaurant in many parts of the world that Southern Chinese people have immigrated to. These restaurants remind me of my childhood since I went to my fair share of them as a kid. Most of the people inside were also Chinese, it’s always a good sign when Chinese people are eating the Chinese food.

As quickly as I walked in, I was pulled back outside. The three us decided to go on a journey to find a place to drink. We walked to a bar that we couldn’t find. We walked past a bar that looked nice but was full of older faces. We walked by a bar that sounded much too loud for a conversation. Finally, we landed on a quaint cocktail bar with low lights and comfortable interior called Windhorst. The entire place was run by a single middle aged man wearing circle glasses and an ocean blue shirt. He played host, waiter, and bartender to the small crowd, coming to tables to take orders, mixing up drinks, and bringing them back. In his downtime he cleaned, restocked the bar, and refilled carafes of water. I was fascinated watching his efficiency and reflexive competence in keeping us (the guests) well taken care of. We talked to him in a mix of German and English. I overheard a mix of German and English coming from the other tables. At one point, he locked the door because he couldn’t deal with more customers.

We sat to sip and talk. Her name was Janina and she was German Born Chinese (GBC), well not exactly, but more or less. Funny enough, we spoke mostly in Chinese. She said her Chinese was better than her English so that’s the way we went. Max introduced me to a number of Chinese/Taiwanese people during our trip but Janina was the easiest to talk to. Her Chinese was easy to follow. She didn’t use an overly complex vocabulary so I could comprehend and contribute to the conversation without too much cognitive overhead. I could always dip back into English when I needed to and She’d sometimes react in German which was amusing. Our conversation was two concurrent streams of cultural similarities and cultural differences intertwined. It’s an easy topic for people from different parts of the world to talk about. Despite growing up in different corners of the world, GBC, ABC (American Born Chinese), it’s pretty much the same shit different country. You played piano or violin, you speak Chinese but not really, your parents used corporal punishment, and your parents probably pushed you to study something in school with good career prospects. Chinese immigrants feel the same everywhere, but their children have dreams of their own.

Janina told us about “Grape”, a malt grapefruit drink she used to drink in University, so I went to find it the next day. She kept giving me drinks to try so now you can watch the saga on Instagram.

Grapefruit Drink ⭐⭐⭐(3/5)

I’m not a huge fan of flavored beer drinks but it’s sweet and tastes like grapefruit.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Enoch (@uhhuhhuny)

Fritz Kola ⭐⭐(2/5)

Tastes like Pepsi. Sorry I’m more of a Coke guy. But I read it has a lot more caffeine so maybe it’s good for a long night out.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Enoch (@uhhuhhuny)

Club Mate ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐5/5

Kinda like Guayaki Yerba Mate that we have in the States. I thought it was read “Club Mate” but it’s probably “Club Ma-Te”. Tastes kinda like watered downed whiskey mixed with apple cider vinegar but much sweeter. I like drinks that are acquired tastes like whiskey and coffee and maybe Club Mate could fit in this category.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Enoch (@uhhuhhuny)