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Zweistrom – Shawarma & Falafel Heaven

I grew up in the Middle East in the 80’s and early 90’s. Fast food options were very limited. I still remember, when the first McDonald’s opened up in Saudi Arabia, the lines were insane! A three-story building packed with 100’s of golden arch groupies and the drive through lines that were already 50 cars deep, when you pulled in. Looking back at that today, it seems insane, because we are just talking about McDonald’s!

Luckily, despite the clear lack of options, before the explosion of restaurants, there was one undisputed king of all fast foods – The Shawarma!

The key for a good shawarma, regardless if it is chicken, beef or lamb, is the layering of the meat on the spit. It is the alternating patterns of meat and fat, rotating under even heat that gives the meat the right textures of burnt tips and tender pieces. The other key ingredients are pickled turnips, garlic mayo and amba (dipping sauce made of mangoes, vinegar, salt, mustard, turmeric, chilli and fenugreek).

All of which combines to give the perfect flavours. I did not know the word to describe it back then, but today I would call it pure Umami. Every single bite offered something interesting. The sour crunch of the pickled radish, in particular was my personal favourite

zweistrom berlin

There are not a lot of great shawarma places in Berlin. There two main reasons behind this. One – Arab immigrants are very new to Berlin. Two – This is still very much a doner city, so when you are looking for meat on a stick, most people head that direction.

I discovered Zweistrom in Prenzlauer Berg, when I recently moved to Berlin. The place is renowned for their falafels, which is how I found it.

zweistrom berlin

On first impressions, the place is super basic. With limited indoor seating and on good weather days, there are plenty of seats outdoors.

zweistrom berlin

The menu is basic with mixture of various tellers (plates) and with some options to get it in brot (bread) – the taboon bread is typically served across the Middle East and is the perfect carb base for shawarmas. This bread is an option as well with the tellers.

After the seeing the menu for the first time, I decided to try the mixed platter, in order to try everything Zweistrom has to offer. And boy I was not disappointed!

zweistrom berlin

Every single bite was fascinating and offered everything you want from the food! It was pure bliss and it felt like being in a time machine and transporting me back to those childhood moments of pure satisfaction!

I have been to Zweistrom, eating at the restaurant inside and outside. And I have also done take away. It is right up there for some of the best comfort food in town for me. It is also a treat to see their plates when you eat there, because they are truly a work of art! With a price of under 7.50 euros, this is one of the best value for money places in town!

zweistrom berlin

And as for as the reason for my first visit…I have to say….yes the falafels are good as well 🙂

 

TookTook Tips

  • Get the mix teller if you are super hungry. It is a lot of food!
  • I would recommend eating in over take away

 

Address: Kollwitzstraße 104, 10435 Berlin, Germany

Price:
Hours:

Thursday 12PM–2AM
Friday 12PM–2AM
Saturday 12PM–3AM
Sunday 12PM–3AM
Monday 12PM–2AM
Tuesday 12PM–2AM
Wednesday 12PM–2AM:

Dumplings in Barcelona

It is awesome when a new place opens up in the neighborhood. This is the feeling we had when Dip Dumpling joined Gracia towards the end of last year. It is not one of those places that screams out calling for you, but once you go there you will love it. We love its identity, its purity. Also you must like dumplings, because that is the main attraction on their menu.

Ana and Eduardo, have brought their experiences from New York and China, along with their team back to Barcelona.

The place is simple, clean and minimally decorated. It is a very relaxed environment with just enough space to seat around 12 people. It feels like the feng shui is spot on.

Furthermore, the menu is just as simple and intentionally limited as the decor. At Dip Dumpling they use the best and freshest ingredients. Not only that, they painstakingly do everything by hand, even aspects of the cooking and preparation a machine could easily do. Luckily, for us, we get to taste the love and effort that goes into preparing the food.

We usually start off with some greens, edamame, bok choy and broccoli. We are also served a little cup of kimchi to open up our appetite.

For drinks as they do not serve any alcohol (and you won’t even need it here), we usually get the ginger or green juices.

Next, you can select between the beef, pork, shrimp, and vegetable dumplings. We have a bit of everything but our favorite are the beef dumplings.

Finally, we end up having the apple pie dumplings for dessert. They are so light and not super sweet.

The meal is satisfyingly filling, but maintains a sense of lightness. Overall, it’s just a healthy, soothing and yummy experience.

TookTook Tips:

  • Get the Bok Choy it’s just so fresh and succulent
  • Have a juice
  • Get an assortment of dumplings – our favorite is the beef
  • They do not serve alcohol
  • Small groups should be easier to serve
  • Closed on Monday’s
Phone: +34 932 10 79 46
Price:
Hours:
Tuesday 7–11PM
Wednesday 7–11PM
Thursday 7–11PM
Friday 7–11PM
Saturday 7–11PM
Sunday 7–11PM
Monday Closed


From,

The Tooktook Tem

Burgermeister – The most famous burger joint in Berlin

I love burgers! There are very few things in world that can satisfy the taste buds, like a well-prepared beef patty, crispy bacon, and basic condiments, in between a slightly crispy but soft bun.

And as simple as it sounds, it is very easy to screw it up. I have written about Tommi’s Burger Joint as one of those places that gets it right And while I would rank Tommi’s higher in terms of quality. There is however, no doubt in mind Burgermeister wins hands down in terms of originality and experience. Not to mention for under 5 euros for the regular burgers, you get the best value for money. And deserves to be in the exclusive club of high quality burger joints in Berlin!

Located right in the middle of Schlesisches Tor under the beautifully constructed train tracks of the U1 leading to and from Schlesisches Tor Ubahn station. The station itself is rooted in history as it is named after one of the former 18TH century city gates.

A further fun fact making this a truly unique venue is that the King of Berlin Burgers is located in what used to be a public toilette! Don’t worry, there is very little of that left apart from the signage!

The go to burger to get is the house burger the ‘Meisterburger’! It is simple affair, just the way I like it, a well cooked juicy patty with fried onions, mustard, bacon and bbq sauce in a bun. It is not too big or messy. Every bite is delicious and fills you up perfectly.

The fries and sauces are decent but nothing to shout about. Though if your part of the 1am-3am crowd, the enhanced craving for greasy food from a night out, will make the chili cheese fries seem outstanding!

At the end of the day, Burgermeister is the people’s burger. It is one of those few places in Berlin, where you will see all sections of society, together; enjoying the simplicity of what a burger should be all about!

 

TookTook Tips

  • Prepare for a long line during peak lunch hours and early mornings on the weekends.
  • The burgers are not huge, so if you are going for the regular burgers, get a side or another burger! If you are really hungry!
  • The Meisterburger is the go to burger of choice!

 

Address: U1 Schlesisches Tor, Oberbaumstraße 8, 10997, Berlin

Phone: +49 30 23883840

Website: Burgermeister

Hours:

Tuesday 11am–3am
Wednesday 11am–3am
Thursday 11am–3am
Friday 11am–4am
Saturday 12pm–4am
Sunday 12pm–3am
Monday 11am–3am

Price: €

ABC – Allan’s Breakfast Club & Wine Bar

Breakfast aka Frühstück is very popular in Berlin and there are plenty of places to go to, if you are looking for the traditional German breakfast of fresh fruits, delicious bread, a variety of cheese, butter and boiled eggs. There are also ample cafés doing their hipster bit of making versions of eggs benedict with ‘artisanal bread’ – the type where you need a steak knife to cut through it or they serve massive bowls of muesli – which have enough yogurt to feed a family of four!

Unfortunately outside these two genres, there is very little out there for folks looking for an American style greasy affair to soak in all the booze from the night before. The things I dream of are hash browns, streaky bacon, corn beef hash, tatar tots, Biscuits and Gravy. The type of options you get in places like New York and London.

Luckily, it’s not all doom and gloom, as there are a few folks trying to break out of the vanilla brunch offerings and do things with care rather than trying too hard to stand out. And the leading light in this endeavour is Allan’s Breakfast Club (ABC).

Allan is the French owner and Head Chef. After spending a few years in Australia, and working in Berlin food scene, he started ABC, fusing the relaxed Aussie brunch culture with French elements – To create one of Berlin’s hottest Brunch spots.

I have been to visit Allan and his lovely staff, more than 6 times since I moved to Berlin. I have sampled most things on the menu and I have to give them high marks for friendly staff and making simple dishes with high quality ingredients.

While I am fan of their Eggs Benedict, I am even bigger fan of their bread bases dishes.

The French toast is genius with the nutella yogurt spread on the side.

The banana bread is just amazing! It’s perfectly baked and tastes amazingly fresh.

The Croque Monsieur may be the best one I have had so far in Berlin!

And if you are really hungry folks you can go for the ABC tasting plate to get the full spread of what the place can offer.

And of course if you got a hair of the dog moment, there is nothing like a strong bloody mary to help your weekend day along!

ABC is currently my go to comfort spot for a weekend meal and if you decide to go later in the evening, post 7:30pm, you also get to experience a vibrant wine bar with that same chill vibe you get for brunch.

 

TookTook Tips:

  • Make sure to get reservations for the weekend if you have a group. You can call a couple of days in advance usually and get a booking.

Address: Rykestraße 13, 10405 Berlin

Phone: +49 30 23925134

Website: ABC – Allans Breakfast Club & Wine Bar

Hours:

Tuesday Closed
Wednesday Closed
Thursday 10AM–3PM, 6PM–12AM
Friday 10AM–3PM, 6PM–12AM
Saturday 10AM–4PM, 6PM–12AM
Sunday 10AM–4PM
Monday 10AM–3PM

Price: €€

Nobook Barcelona

One night we were looking to try out a new place for diner in Barcelona and it needed to be quite central. We heard about Nobook.

As the name suggests, you cannot make a reservation/booking, hence the name Nobook. You can really feel this place is different and has an identity of its own.

From the moment you enter, you see chairs hanging on the wall ready to be brought into effect for extra seating, orange-themed decor, open plan kitchen, but the best is the staff are dressed up in orange jumpsuits as if they were prisoners in a corrections facility.

A bit shocking, the colors and the outfits at first, you get used to it, especially the team is so welcoming and enjoying their own environment. The closest thing to a literal version of Orange is the New Black.

 

The cocktails here are very creative and well presented. Do try one or two throughout your meal.

Like the cocktails, the dishes are creative as well. They touch upon various cuisines from around the world and are great for sharing amongst each other.

Do check out what we ate.

 

Ceviche
Gua Bao with Peking Duck
img_5773
General Tso Chicken
Scallops

Over and above the main menu, there a few surprise dishes that are served from off the menu so be sure to try those as well.

After a lovely meal of a variety of flavors and there was no dessert or coffee or coffe on offer because their cocktails are supposed to take care of your post meal cravings. The night we went there was a band and it kept the energy flowing throughout the night.

You’ll be walking away from Nobook with good vibes.

TookTook Tips:

  • Make sure you know how much you are ordering as quantities vary per dish
  • Try some of their amazing cocktails
  • Find out what is on their unwritten menu
Menu: nobook.es
Phone: At Nobook you can’t book so…No Phone
Price: €€€

Hours:

Tuesday 7:30–11:30PM
Wednesday 7:30–11:30PM
Thursday 1–3:30PM, 7:30PM–12AM
Friday 1–3:30PM, 7:30PM–12AM
Saturday 1–3:30PM, 7:30PM–12AM
Sunday: Closed
Monday 7:30–11:30PM

Signing out,

The Tooktook Team

El Portal – The Gastronomic Taberna of Alicante

The Taberna & Wines Portal

El Portal is a restaurant that is famous in Alicante for a variety of reasons.

  1. It is the epicentre of fine dining in Alicante.
  2. They have an Incredible wine list and serve stunning cocktails.
  3. It is stylish and a place to be seen.
  4. And it is rated highly by the folks at Michelin

El Portal Taberna & Wines

None of these things, usually gets us excited but based on recommendations from locals tellings us to go to Portal, we thought, why not, lets give it a shot!

We arrived on a Friday afternoon and tried to walk in, which was an automatic fail, because the whole place was booked out and not only booked out for the rest of Friday, but for the entire weekend. The lovely maître d however told us to come the next day at 1pm, when the place opens and we could get a spot at the bar.

The Taberna & Wines Portal

So the next day that is exactly what we did and we walked in as one of the first folks for lunch (1pm is clearly too early for Spanish lunch time!). We were given a seats at the bar and because it was relatively quiet, the bar tender was able to chat with us and give us recommendations on what to order.

sardines-and-chips

We ordered 10 dishes covering a variety of things, such as Mollejas de cordero (lamb with sweet bread), Patatas Bravas ( baked potato with aioli sauce), and Verdura Gastromercat ( mozzarella and tomato).

verdura-gastromercat

patatas-bravas

mollejas-de-cordero

The highlight however were:

Turron de Foie turron-de-foie

Turron or nougat, are made with honey, sugar, and egg white, with toasted almonds. Almonds are indigenous to the region, so you know your getting some one the best turrons in Spain here. And when you combine that nutty paste with the soft consistency of Foie Gras, you are creating an explosion of flavour, like we have never had before.

Vieiras Asadas vieiras-asadas

The roasted scallops in a buttery cream sauce and  topped with bacon!! We just loved this dish. I mean anything with bacon, just makes things better ha! But in all seriousness this is dish, executed to perfection.

Berengena Asadaberengena-asada

Roasted Aubergine was spectacular. It was tender, packed with a lot of flavour. The upper bread crumbled crust, give this dish an amazing contrast between the braised flavours of the aubergine and crispy flavours of the crumble.

Tuna Tataki

tuna-tataki

This was the highlight of what we eat. This dish was at par with anything you would eat in Japan. The Sashimi was tender, almost buttery and was literally melting in our mouths. We highly recommend, getting this dish if you are good with seafood!

seafood

The other dish highly recommended, was the snow crab, which we did not have any space our stomachs to get to, but the bar tender could not stop raving about it!

We are highly impressed by Portal and our experience. Carlos Bosch and his partner and Chef Sergio Sierra have done an incredible job putting Alicante on the map with their restaurant.

TookTook Tips:

  • Make sure to get reservations, Portal is extremely popular with locals and visitors.
  • Book a table for a late lunch on Saturday, we recommend around 2pm and  stick around for drinks! The atmosphere is electric, fuelled by the amazing cocktails.
  • Try the Olive oil that they serve, it is amazing!
    copacopa-vino

Address: Calle Bilbao, 2, 03001 Alicante

Phone: +34 965 14 32 69

Website: El Portal

Hours: Open every day· 1pm–1:30am

Price: €€€

To-Bar – An Alicantino Meal to Remember 

Imagine walking into a restaurant not knowing what you’re going to eat, how much you’re going to pay, how much you’re going to get to eat, or what kind of cuisine it is. We walked into To-bar in Alicante under those circumstances.

Completely overwhelmed by the lack of control over the situation we were wondering if this was turning out to be a good idea in the first place. The waiter with great confidence and jubilation told us we are in good hands and have very little to worry about. We decided to go with the flow.

Bread, water, wine, salad, a host of appetizers, freshly caught shrimp ready to peel, first plate of meat and a second plate of fish, dessert, coffee, digestifs were all included. This turned out to be truly a local, authentic, Alicantino meal.

 

By the end of the meal we had no more space. No more wiggle room to move. We held our breath for the bill not knowing the damage to our wallets. How much was this experience really worth?

€ 17.50 per head! Our jaws dropped, we couldn’t believe it. For that price this meal was outstanding and worth every penny. Probably, one of the most value-for-money moments ever in our lives.

The atmosphere is great here, like a rustic tavern. Whether you are two people or twenty this place can accommodate any occasion.

Tooktook Tips:

  • Be sure to make a reservation as such an experience is in great demand for visitors and locals alike.

 

Address: Calle Músico José Torregrosa, 28, 03112 Alicante
Phone: 645 46 18 36
Website: tabernatobar.com
Hours: Open every day· 12–4PM | Friday and Saturday 9–11PM | Sunday Closed

Price: €

From the Tooktook Team

Meat in Tokyo

The Land of the Rising Sun has always been a fascinating place to visit. Disconnected from Continental Asia, and the rest of the world, island life in such a technologically advanced nation was surely to be an interesting experience to say the least. 

Tokyo, being the largest city in world, yet is spotless. Everything is extremely well maintained and serves a purpose. Since space is limited on the islands of Japan and more specifically in Tokyo, building vertically helps to fit in more, in less.

Tokyo is one of those holy grails for food lovers, but not all the great eateries can be seen just on street level, they have to be found. They have to be discovered. Some places are on random floors or rooftops or basements in random buildings, in varying areas of the city. That is why it is a never ending treasure chest. 

The culture in Japan respects all trades, crafts, and art, this includes food. From the freshness of the ingredients to the extreme dedication of chefs perfecting their trade, the quality here is second to none.  

One may assume our trip to Tokyo to have been filled with only eating sushi or some sort of pescatarian diet. Don’t get me wrong there was a lot of that and the best and freshest you will ever have, but there was a lot of other exceptional food too. 

That brings me to experiencing one of the most delicious meat meals ever! Don’t forget Japan is also known for its beef. And if you’re tired of eating just the “plain old” sushi and want some meat, then you HAVE to eat at Ushinokura.

The meat is so fresh and you get a variety of cuts. They are all so delicious and are like butter, just every morsel melts in your mouth. The fun part is you put the meat on the grill yourself. You just can’t go wrong with it whether you like it rare or well done. All you need, if any, is a pinch of salt and the flavor is amplified. Mouth-watering meat lover heaven. Enough for a vegetarian to cheat.Have a few beers and get some frozen saki to go throughout your meal.


Address: Japan, 〒107-0052 Tōkyō-to, Minato-ku, Akasaka, 7 Chome−9, 赤坂7丁目9−1

Tel: +81 3-5573-9062

Hours: 5PM to 3AM

Best,

TookTook Team

Arendsnest Proeflokaal – The Dutch Craft Beer Bar of Amsterdam

1

Holland is not known for its great beer, especially if you consider their more illustrious neighbours Belgium and Germany are usually the ones fighting for that accolade.

2

But if you are familiar with beer, you will have heard of Dutch beers like Heineken and Amstel. The two are amongst the most popular beers in the world. And like all things beer in the 70’s and 80’s, everyone just wanted lager beers. The likes of Heineken ended up eating up all the local breweries and the ones that didn’t survive takeovers closed down, unable to compete with economies of scale.

Luckily for us, there has been a counter-revolution that started towards the late 90s’ bringing back local craft beers around the world. Though I have to say in America this has been taken to a whole new level, when you have triple IPA beers, that are so dry, it’s like drinking beer with a dry cardboard after taste… Sorry I digress!

Going back to this piece, currently there are more than 400 breweries in Holland.  A lot of them are very small and you probably haven’t heard of 99% of them, unless you’re a die hard craft beer connoisseur!

3

This is why I love Arendsnest Proeflokaal. Located in the heart of Amsterdam, on Herengracht 90, overlooking the canal slightly off the intersection. It’s not a place you will notice, unless you are looking for it.

3-5

They serve over 50 Dutch beers from the tap along with over 100 beers on bottle. Making it one of the few places in Amsterdam, where you can drink through a good chunk of craft brews the country has to offer. The bar has a very vintage feel with wood-paneled walls and furniture, accented by copper pipes and cool looking beer taps.

5

There are two main menus on blackboards around the bar. With one dedicated to beers on draft and the other one to Jenever, the cousin of gin. Despite the difference in drinks, you know the one common factor…everything is Dutch!

5-2

I have been to this bar over 4 times and the staff are always helpful and super passionate about beer! You can start with their own eponymous house beer and slowly work you way through the Dutch microbrewery landscape.

4

They also have a small but good selection of cheese and meat, to pair  with your drinks. And if you are in a group, you can always book private tasting sessions, which I would highly recommend!

6

 

TookTook Tips

  • Visit it during the afternoon on the weekday, it tends to be quiet and the bartender is more than happy to educate you on the local micro brewery scene.
  • I would recommend getting a meat and cheese platter, it goes really well with the dry beers especially.

 

Website: Arendsnest Proeflokaal

Address: Herengracht 90, 1015, Amsterdam

Telephone: +31 (0) 20 421 2057

Timing:  Sunday – Thursday |12: 00 – 24: 00  &  Friday – Saturday | 12:00 – 2: 00

Price: €

 

La Rosa Vermutería – The best Tapas Bar in Palma de Mallorca

palma2

Palma de Mallorca has never been on top of my list, when it comes to picking a place to visit in Spain. Cheesy 70s/80s architecture, random neon lighting, combined with a large population of tourists never makes it an authentic experience. It sounds snooty unfortunately, especially when you are talking about an Island in the Western Mediterranean with amazing weather year round!

Which is precisely the reason we finally caved in, considering there are not a lot of options in Europe for Vitamin D replenishing and the prospect of 20 degree weather in December.

palma

In preparation of visiting Palma, we did our usual homework, putting together a list of local food recommendations from blogs and travel sources. After going to a few of them on our first day, using the word ‘mediocre’ would be putting it lightly. After all, this is Spain we are taking about, the country with arguably the best food on the planet!

So when a foodie friend, Facebook messaged us about La Rosa, after seeing our posts from Mallorca, we had nothing to lose.

1

Located right off Plaça de Weyler, next to the beautiful Gran Hotel, is the amazing La Rosa Vermuteria. Opened in 2015, is still the hottest tapas bar in Palma.

2

The interiors are warm and inviting. The owner, Nacho Velasco has done an amazing job contrasting vintage white tiles and dark wooden surfaces, with retro wall hangings, giving it a 50’s vibe with a modern twist.

3

And in keeping with the trends that had already swept across the mainland, the main drink of choice is Vermouth. With over 20 different types of vermouths available, takes you back to a time when Vermouth was always the apéritif of choice in Spain.

10

The food menu has all the tapas staples such as bravas, gildas, padron peppers, croquettes and tortilla. All of which are great in their own way and came out perfectly.

9

5

6

The dishes I would highly recommend getting is anything to do with seafood, such as the various mussels, clams and sardines. Especially the ones that come in tin cans. I know it sounds super weird if you are not familiar but the tin cans offer some of the tastiest and freshest sea food you cant get, because they are canned right after the catch.
cans2

cans

8

And depending on what is in season at the local markets and what the chef feels like, some of the dishes are made fresh for just that day.

la-rosa

la-rosa-palma

The one dish that really ticked all the boxes was the grilled octopus with garlic confit and parsley gel. Probably one of the best octopus dishes I have ever eaten!

7

What makes this place even better, it’s #43 on TripAdvisor for restaurants in Palma… ha!  Which basically means this is truly a local establishment for locals!

11

Special thank you to our friend Bren for recommending this gem of a place and for sharing some of his images with us as well. He also happened to be there, just the other day!

TookTook Tips:

Definitely  get a glass of vermouth, it will be a crime not to get one.

4

The menu can look a little complicated, especially if your not familiar with the canned seafood.  Ask the staff for recommendations, they are super nice and very helpful! And most of the guys speak very good english.

The place can get super packed during peak lunch and dinner times. It is a massive hotspot for locals. Be prepared to wait for a table for larger groups.

This is also one of the few places that is open on a Sunday and random hours of the day, so take full advantage!

 

Website: La Rosa Vermutería

Address: Carrer Rosa, 5, 07003, Palma

Telephone: +34 971 77 89 29

Timing: Tuesday – Sunday | 12:00 – 24:00  &  Monday | 19:30 – 24:00  

Price: € €