Some restaurant experiences are simply perfect. If you love Japanese food and fancy a real treat, it’s well worth taking a trip out to ‘Kumami’ in Köpenick. This small restaurant with creative flair only opened a few months ago, and remains an insider tip. A Japanese friend took a party of us there last week and we enjoyed a fabulous four-course meal that will linger long in the memory.
Creative cuisine – by Kuma Kenta
All the food was prepared and served by the charming owner, Kuma Kenta, who was also responsible for the slick design of the surroundings. An architect and restaurant designer, he came to Berlin from Kyoto five years ago with his wife Kumi. Together they later founded ‘Kumami’, a fusion of their names. We sat on bar stools at a long chunky wooden table with a rivulet of walnuts and corks curving down the centre. High above us hung a myriad of small plastic bags of water resembling crystals, dancing in the twilight. The walls were raw brick or plaster – unadorned, except for one grouping of line drawings in the entrance. Elemental would best describe the ambience. One sprig of cherry blossom was enough to symbolise the fleeting nature of life.
Bearing this in mind, we ordered the set menu at 45 Euros but you can also eat à la carte. The menu changes daily and, on this evening, our four courses were preceded by an amuse-bouche featuring home-made bread as light as air. Then followed crabmeat with saffron, salmon sashimi on rice topped with trout caviar, fillets of sea bass in a salt crush and finally a pyramid of rare sliced duck smoked and served in a glass bell. Gluten-free alternatives were also provided. Desserts were a choice of a light green tea crème brûlée or liqueur chocolate mousse. It all tasted heavenly and each dish was a work of art – you can find photos to whet your appetite on the Kumami website and Kuma Kenta’s instagram pages here.
Delicate Wolfbarsch (sea bass)
The wine list at ‘Kumami’ is entirely German; consisting of dry white wines by the glass or by the bottle. Most regions are represented in the generous selection, but there’s a marked preference for the ‘Pfalz’, where the vineyards and orchards spread across an idyllic, gentle landscape bordering on the French wine-growing region of Alsace. I have great affection for this area of Germany and imagine that it is somehow reminiscent of the fields of cherry trees in Japan. Once you have been transported to the land of the rising sun by the ‘Kumami’ experience, you may like to finish the evening with a Japanese whiskey.
To ensure a seat at the magical ‘Kumami’ table, make your reservation in advance by email or by telephone. Contact details can be found on the restaurant’s website by following this link. ‘Kumami’ is a very unassuming little place from the outside, down a pretty side street of Alt-Köpenick. It’s less than 30 minutes from Alexanderplatz to Köpenick by S-Bahn (change at Ostkreuz) and then a short tram ride to the Rathaus where Kietzer Straße is just around the corner. Kumami is open in the evenings only from 6pm until 10pm and closed on Monday and Tuesday. I would recommend combining a visit with a stroll around beautiful Köpenick first. My book ‘Berlin Unwrapped’ has all the details in the Outer Edges chapter, pages 103-104.
An aerial view of Alt-Köpenick
If you have an urge to eat Japanese food in Berlin and can’t make the trip to Köpenick, there are plenty of Japanese restaurants in the city centre – you only have to check the internet. At the high end, both the Adlon and the Hyatt hotels are famed for their Asian cuisine. But there are smaller sushi places on nearly every corner. Look out for signs that say ‘Frittiertes Sushi’ (fried Sushi). So unauthentic, so Berlin and sometimes surprisingly good. ‘Genki Sushi’ is a great place to give it a go. You can find it at 22, Wilmersdorfer Straße, Charlottenburg.
Sushi platters at Genki Sushi
To close on a seasonal Japanese note, now is the time to see the cherry trees in blossom in the Berlin Botanischer Garten. They are a wondrous sight.