Korean in Berlin: Madang

This recommendation comes with a bit of a catch, because this is not a place you can just go and order anything. Some items on the menu are delicious, some are surprisingly bland. And while I am usually the first to rule a place out because of inconsistency, the dishes that are made well, are so good, you won’t find them anywhere else in Berlin… Like the Doengjang Jigae, a stew made of Korean fermented soy-bean paste.

Madang is a family-style restaurant, it looks like it’s been around forever and while they may have tried to bring a somewhat more modern approach to traditional restaurant-interior, it’s looking quite dated nowadays with its dark, wooden furniture, dim lights and fabrics, that have been soaked with the smell of fresh Korean BBQ for years. However, it’s been the favorite place to go for many Berliners with a Korean background, because it’s consistently serving a traditional and somewhat homey Korean flavor. Hence, it’s often fully booked, even on weeknights.

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I tried to quickly let go of the thought what a place serving this kind of delicious and comforting food would be like if the interior was a little more “now”, meaning brighter, airier and more spacious. One would never get a table, I guess. So let’s see the slightly off-putting interior as a feature instead of a hindrance, because the soups and pancakes here are very good and you will want to eat them on every single one of the cold nights coming up.

As said, you’ll need a little help with the menu. I’ve had no luck with the starters, also I wouldn’t order the Anju, Bibimbaps and noodle dishes. But! The Jeon are great – these Korean pancakes come filled with Kimchi, or even Kimchi and cheese, and with added seafood, if you like. Not oily, loaded with flavors, and quite filling. There’s also much love in the soups, the Jigae, especially, as mentioned, in the ones made with Doengjang, which you can order vegetarian (11,50 Euro), with seafood (12,50 Euro) or beef (13,50). And you will see loads of other tables enjoying an intense table bbq, with either spicy pork, soy marinated pork, pork belly, beef, octopus, chicken or even tofu, (starting at 13,50 per person with a minimum of 2 people).

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Not to forget the Banchan, the small side served unsolicitedly with every order in Korea (or Korea Town in NY or LA, where I once had an amazing steamed egg), a habit that has not (yet??) been adopted by Korean places in Berlin, sadly. While some sides are served with the Jigae at Madang, I advise you to additionally order the spicy cucumbers that come in a sauce with a surprisingly well balanced vinegar and spice mix.

Madang is a great place for winter, when all you wanna do is fill your belly with a hot and steamy soup that warms your body inside out. You’ll leave satisfied and fulfilled if you stick to the Jigae (and maybe a Jeon for starters), that I can promise.

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Madang

Madang

Gneisenaustraße 8

10961 Berlin Kreuzberg

Mehringdamm

Opening Hours:

Mon–Sat 17:00–23:00

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  1. Les on

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    As a person of Korean-background, I’m rather surprised, blown away actually, that Doengjang Jigae would have such appeal to a non-native. Let’s admit it, it is rather “funky,” like so many Korean dishes and it may prove off-putting to many. (To the uninitiated, it is much stronger smelling, tasting than the Japanese Miso.) Subtlety is not a common trait in Korean food… Anyway, I am impressed by your wide palate.

    I just hope the place does not use MSG. It certainly does not enhance but detracts from fresh flavor…

    1. Mary Scherpe on

      Haha, I love me some fermented everything… (one exception: natto) and I don’t think they use MSG, but who knows..

    1. Mary Scherpe on

      I actually don’t have a microwave… but I will look into the whole thing!

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