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Summer seafood

Fish Klub Summer Residency: Unforgettable seafood pop-up

Fish Klub have a new location! From shrimp tostadas to crab eclairs, these French fish nerds are firing on all cylinders.

Mexican chef Francisco Hernandez turns French fish and shellfish into innovative, flavour-packed plates at Fish Klub, which is based at Mantiusstr. 23 for the summer. Photo: Fish Klub

Since the beginning of this year, there’ve been exactly two wildly hyped, universally acclaimed performances that managed to surpass even my heightened expectations of them: Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All At Once, and Francisco Hernandez in the kitchen of Fish Klub.

Give that woman an Oscar! But more relevantly, get thee to the sustainable seafood importers’ summer haunt near Maybachufer, where a Mexican chef is turning French fish and shellfish into innovative, flavour-packed plates that are currently the talk of the German capital.

You’re going to want to hear about the crab eclair. Very well: I didn’t get it. My brain said “crustacean” and my tastebuds said “dessert” and they stubbornly refused to agree, no matter how sweet and mild the shredded spider crab in the cream filling of the kombu-glazed pain à la duchesse was. But other diners have been happy to reconcile the two concepts, and even if you’re not one of them, the pastry is such a bravado move that it’s worth trying once.

If the shrimp tostada doesn’t make your tastebuds cry for joy, you might want to run out and get a Covid test.

The rest of the menu is far less divisive. You expect amazing seafood from Fish Klub; that’s kind of their thing. You don’t necessarily expect amazing Mexican food, unless you’ve had the good fortune to eat lunch at Fish Klub’s Wilma Shoppen store over the past year. In that mall basement, Hernandez honed a fish-forward cooking style that combines influences from his home country with those picked up from his stints at French restaurants, the Mediterranean Shishi and the neo-Nordic Nobelhart & Schmutzig

At the new restaurant, it all comes together in dishes like the perfect shrimp tostada: crunchy, spicy and tangy with an extra hit of umami coming from XO sauce and the big, meaty shrimp themselves. If it doesn’t make your tastebuds cry for joy, you might want to run out and get a Covid test. Aguachile – think a cross between sashimi and ceviche, where raw seafood is served in a chile-citrus mixture without being given the chance to ‘cook’ – was unheard of in Berlin until extremely recently. Hernandez’s version takes on a Baroque appearance thanks to goose barnacles, strewn like miniature dinosaur claws over velvety sliced meagre in a murky marinade.

Are there fish tacos? There’s the Yucatecan-style tikin xic, made with the underappreciated Knurrhahn, or sea robin. The white-fleshed bottom-feeder is slathered in achiote paste, cooked in banana leaves and served with tortillas for DIY filling and folding. (Save some of the smoky, nutty salsa macha from your tostada; it’s aces as a taco topping.)

Fish Klub’s Wilma Shoppen store will remain closed while the summer pop-up at Mantiusstr. 23 is open. Photo: Clemens Niedenthal

Other dishes nod towards Japan, like the unbelievably savory hamachi, marinated in miso for 36 hours and smeared with the crimson yuzu spice paste kanzuri. Of course, you can always return to France with a platter of oysters and a glass of sparkling (natural) rose. You’ll have to spend at least €30 to get full and more to get tipsy, but quality over quantity has always been the Fish Klub way. Even if you can only afford a €10 tostada or that €8 crab eclair, that couple of bites will be more memorable than most other things you’ve experienced lately, Michelle Yeoh with hot dog fingers excepted.

The current “pop-up” lasts through July 31, if not longer (during which time the Wilma branch of Fish Klub will remain closed); expect a constantly changing menu depending on fish availability and the chef’s whims. For lunch on Saturdays, there’s the usual selection of oysters, plus fish and chips and, why not, langoustines on a waffle. And look out for a pop-up within the pop-up during the week of June 12, when ramen experimentalist Christopher “Food Technique Berlin” Selig teams up with Hernandez for a seafood noodle soup that’s bound to be one for the books.

  • Fish Klub Summer Residency, Mantiusstr. 23, dinner Wed-Sat 18-22, lunch Sat 12-16, reservations here