Finding Japan in Germany! Part 5: “Okonomiyaki” in Berlin!

"A report on Japanese culture found in Germany" - In this article TJ writer wasabi, currently in Berlin, is interviewing people she found who are associated with Japan and its culture. This time, she interviewed Shige, the owner of an “Okonomiyaki” shop she happened to stumble on by chance in a market!

Wasabi   Culture,

Japanese puncake, Okonomiyaki.

Samurai Spoon, Okonomiyaki shop in Berlin.

Bumped into an “Okonomiyaki” vendor by chance!

I was going for a walk on a sunny weekend day in a lovely little market where antiques and unique handicrafts are sold. After passing several food vendors, something smelled familiar to me, and I didn’t expect that smell in Europe. I wasn’t quite sure what it was, but was so surprised in the end when I discovered it was the smell of “Okonomiyaki”! I’ve never expected to see an Okonomiyaki vendor in Berlin, even though Berlin is a melting pot of many races. The name of the shop is Samurai Spoon and it’s owner, Shige, a musician who has lived here for 4 years now, runs the shop with his wife Kathy, who is also a musician from England.

The menu for Okonomiyaki.

The vegan Okonomiyaki.

Dried bonito flakes, that can be explained as “Dancing Fish”

Shige started the Okonomiyaki shop because there was no such shop in Berlin. According to him, he always describes dried bonito flakes (the topping for Okonomiyaki) as “Dancing Fish,” to those who have never seen them. I never thought about it like that, but he’s exactly right! (You’ll know what I mean if you eat one!) They have three menus, Cheese, Bacon and Sesame for vegans.

He says the most popular one is cheese. German cheese tastes thicker than the Japanese cheese, so it’s worth trying to see the difference. What’s so special about their Okonomiyaki is that, they don’t use any fish soup stock in it, but only use Konbu (seaweed), from the vegetarian and vegan ideology. It’s always good to have options you can choose from.

Staffs at Samurai Spoon. In NewKoelln Flow markt.

Japanese food culture developed by a mixture of diverse values.

What’s interesting about Samurai Spoon is that, the staffs working there are very diverse, coming from Britian, Germany, America, Japan, Italy, and various other countries. Since I began interviewing people associated with Japanese culture in Germany, I found that the Japanese culture is not only Japan’s, but has been rediscovered and redefined by people of different nationalities who have different values. They tend to take Japanese food and “mix it up a little.” For example, an Okonomiyaki menu for vegans sounds new or unfamiliar to most Japanese. This idea shows us the different possibilities or potentials of Japanese food that even Japanese people don’t realize.

The shop is open at NowKoelln Flowmarkt, Mauerpark, and even open in various other markets on weekends. People are lined up around lunch, craving Samurai Spoon’s Okonomiyaki. Why not visit if your in Berlin and are longing for Okonomiyaki?

■Please check Shige’s music label 『SMALL BUT HARD RECORDINGS』! You can find some cool and quirky underground music and art.

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Writer / Translator

I’m a freelance translator from Tokyo who likes to travel right in the middle of the unpredictables in life. Through the translation of articles I hope to create points of contact between Japan and the rest of the world. As a writer, I want to add information that isn’t in the guide book, from a “wasabi” perspective!



Address They open the shop in different market everyweek. Please see the Facebook page for details!