A Small Wonder

House of Small Wonder is a little miracle in the big city.

When people visit and we’ve done the Brandenburg Gate, Museum Island, etc. and we’re trudging along Friedrichstrasse, there is one question that I dread above all other questions: know anywhere good to eat near here?

NO. No (I would think, sweating a storm and biting my lip), I did not know anywhere good to eat, unless you were happy wandering aimlessly until giving in to a döner, currywurst or burrito. Otherwise I’d persuade you to let me drag your rumbling tummy twenty minutes on the train to somewhere where there might be better, locally credible options. That was the fearful situation a few months ago. Then the miracle happened.

I heard tell of a “Japanese brunch place in Mitte.” Wait, what? How many incongruities are we going to fit in that sentence? But this is Berlin, a sweet, deep well of surprises. So I trusted the original review and took my sister (who has just as high a standard for food establishments as I have… oi, that’s pretty high!). At first we entered the large glass doors of the stated address and were greeted by a secretary and her tightly wound bun. We explained what we were looking for (“er… is this where the Japanese restaurant is?”) and were swiftly shepherded out again towards a side entrance next door. Stepping inside here seemed more promising – maybe it had something to do with the Oriental carpet and inviting wooden spiral staircase?

After climbing the magic staircase we found a room of dark wood and delicate prints, flooded with sunbeams. The short but scrummy menu offered – for a diplomatic price of €10 – varying combinations of rice, egg, and meat in a Tex-Mex-Japanese fusion style. Probably all of them were good, but we only had two stomachs between us.

Scrambled eggs have never been so zen.

If I had to sum the meal up in one word, it’d be wholesome. But thankfully I don’t have to. So I’ll also add: perfectly seasoned, lush, steamy, simple, and balanced – in the satisfying way that a well-formed portion of meat, rice and egg can be “balanced” (it can be, right?).

In fact, “balanced and well-thought-out” pretty much sums up the whole experience of an afternoon at House of Small Wonder. You can have traditional, piping hot Japanese roasted rice tea, or a zesty ice tea; a breakfast to get over the night before or an eccentric cocktail to start the night early; and you’re protected from the barren, Starbucks-patrolled wastelands of the inescapable city centre by wooden beams, bamboo-print wallpaper and that zen-feeling of having eaten well.

House of Small Wonder
Johannisstr. 20
Mitte

Mon-Fri: 9am – 5pm
Sat-Sun: 10am – 4pm

DON’T PANIC:
In case, like me, you’re gutted that they’re not open
beyond tea time, there’s a solution.
(Phew.)
There’s a sleek Japanese dinner and cocktail place downstairs behind a mysterious black door, which remains closed throughout the day…

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