There are more than one places that are utterly weird in Berlin, and this former GDR pearl of beauty, a Tajik tea parlor in the middle of Berlin is one of them.
The whole thing was a gift to the GDR from the former Soviet constituent republic Tajikistan, which has brought the interior and concept to one of the Leipzig Trade Fairs in the 1970s. In 1976 it was opened as a permanent tea parlor / restaurant with the interior, the carved wood columns, the carpets and hassocks, the low tables and the kitchen ware all imported from Tajikistan. It hasn’t changed, not even during the move last winter, when they had to leave their Unter den Linden location and re-opened in Oranienburger Straße, just next to the New Synagogue in a backyard. Don’t worry, the place basically looks the same.
It’s especially peculiar because on the one side it’s trying to be an authentic representation of a Central Asian tea parlor (and succeeds in many ways), but then it’s located in the center of Berlin and can’t quite be enjoyed isolated from its distinctive GDR, and thus Berlin history. It’s showing for example in the very Berlin manner of the waiters, which I would call a kind of polite rudeness – they might seem a bit rough, at first, until you notice their witty kindness underlying this first impression. And they seriously care for the people they serve, being quick and attentive.
Although I must admit in terms of tea I am more a fan of Paper and Tea or Companion Coffee, their tea menu is extensive and offers something for all tastes. And then the Russian dishes we had were all of very good, almost surprisingly good quality – we enjoyed fresh ingredients, house-made dumplings and delicious compositions. And then we finished our dinner with a dessert suggested by the waiter, a fried dumpling of sorts with a cranberry filling, which was so very good, light and melting on your tongue, yet with the right share of fatty deliciousness desserts need. They also offer Plov, but I wasn’t ready for that.
If you’re up for something even more fancy (than just taking your shoes off and getting onto the cushions to enjoy one of the over 20 tea varieties), book the Samovar ceremony for you and your best friends.
Although some might call this one an insider’s tip, don’t let them fool you – this parlor has been in every guide (in the section of insider’s tips) and is almost constantly booked. So don’t forget to make your reservation.