Entering Silla I immediately thought of the Simpson’s foodie episode (brilliantly called “The Food Wife”) where Marge, Lisa and Bart start a food blog to discover Springfield’s most hidden yet incredibly original food spots. Silla definitely fulfills all criteria of authenticity that so many foodies are longing to find – it’s not a restaurant, but more a food shop with some tables and a big open kitchen, all seats were taken by Korean people (one of them being a huge group of Korean women in very similar colorful yet functional attire, happily munching neon-green popsicles), the waitress’ and chef’s German was basic but friendly, and the menu was short and focussed on pork belly. My choice, however, was quickly made: Bibimbap. (Another advantage of being vegetarian is too never have too much choice.)
I’ve heard about Silla from Luisa, and had it on my list for ages before I finally found myself out West yesterday looking for something to eat. It’s located on the rather brute Bundesallee, across the street from a gas station, and as said, one part of the room is a shop with a choice of Korean and Japanese groceries, none of them too special. I snatched the only chair left in the dining area next to the big open kitchen, the rest was already filled with guests on this Monday evening. Most of them were enjoying Sam Gjob Sal, pork belly fried on a table grill with various side dishes. Which is why the whole place was filled with the odour of roasted pork belly fat – pork belly seems to be one of their favorite ingredients, next to fish in dishes like Mae un Tang, a spicy fish soup, or Haemul Gukso Songol, a fish, seafood and tofu soup cooked on the table. The latter dishes are only available for 2 persons and more.
However, I went for the bibimbap (the only vegetarian dish available, except from a glass noodle dish with vegetables that didn’t sound too exciting), and although not mentioned in the menu it arrived as a dolsot bibimbap, served in a hot stone bowl with the rice still sizzling. The best advice is to let it sit for a moment before stirring the whole thing through so the rice sticks to the bowl and creates those wonderful crunchy bits and pieces I love. Silla’s bibimbap comes with all sorts of toppings, most of them pickled or quickly fried like the mushrooms, and their individual flavors and textures create a great mix in the end. The hot sauce hidden somewhere underneath the toppings was wonderfully oily, making this one of the creamiest (and thus most comforting) bibimbaps I had in Berlin. And covering the fact that I found their Kimchi, that was served on the side, a bit bland, and the egg a little overcooked.
It definitely is a lot of joy to eat at Silla, also because it serves you with the right dose of originality and excitement, and I would say traveling out West for a Bibimbap at Silla is quite worth it. You could even make it a foodie tour par excellence, Daruma, the Japanese Udon and Katsudon place, the Chinese noodle artists of Shaniu, as well as Tian Fu, one of my favorite Chinese restaurants are just around the corner.