Hashi Kitchen

An ambitious experiment in Asian restauranteering, Hashi Kitchen is set to thrive in Berlin – assuming patrons aren't overwhelmed by the "War and Peace" length menu.

Image for Hashi Kitchen
Photo by Tania Castellví

An ambitious experiment in Asian restauranteering, Hashi Kitchen is set to thrive in Berlin – assuming patrons aren’t overwhelmed by the “War and Peace” length menu.

Threading 15,000 chopsticks together with fishing line sounds like a Mr. Miyagi training session out of The Karate Kid. But 14 artists spent three weeks doing just that – and then hung them from the ceiling of Hashi (“chop-stick”) Kitchen, a new Japanese restaurant on Rosenthaler Straße in Mitte, to create an elegant space-distorting installation resembling a fluid three-dimensional wave.

Add to that ceiling-to-floor windows, wing-shaped interlocking tables and a long bar delineating the open kitchen where a team of Japanese chefs chop and fry away frenetically as trendy electro and house beats fill the expansive modern space, and you have the makings of a very metropolitan restaurant.

Owner Ethan Xu is a young Berliner who, after studying business in Canada, switched culinary allegiance from the Chinese cooking of his parents (they have a restaurant in Tempelhof) to Japanese cuisine, or rather the innovative take on it he encountered in North America.

The result is a vast menu with more than 200 items – perhaps a bit overwhelming for the first-timer paralysed upon choosing between an appetizer, a tapa or a salad. Add to that Maki, Uramaki, Nigiri sushi and sashimi plus long “Grill”, “Deep fried”, “Kushi” (grilled skewers), “Donburi” and “Rice & Noodles” sections… one could return 20 times and never eat the same dish.

Going on tips from the friendly, polyglot waitstaff, we kicked off with a seaweed, cucumber and shrimp salad dressed in a great amasu vinaigrette, the perfect and refreshing balance of sweet, salty and sour which we warmly recommend (Shrimps Sunomono, €3.20).

Our orders arriving in random, non-linear fashion, Beef Tataki Carpaccio (€7.90) came next – seared slices of Argentinian beef with garlic and red onions, dappled with ponzu dressing and mustard mayo. The huge Daikon Wakame salad
– white radish, seaweed and nothing else but wasabi dressing – came as a nice neutral counterpoint to this meaty flavour bombshell.

As the kids chewed away on some tender teriyaki chicken (€6.90) and skewered chicken yakitori (€3.20), we sampled the Deep Fried Tofu and Eggplant. We enjoyed the squishy, marshmallow-esque texture of the tofu, and happily dipped the bits in fish broth while munching on an excellent sweet potato garnish.

Another “main course” highlight was the stir-fried Mentai Kimuchi Udon (€7.90), noodles blended with spicy fish roe and kimchi for a less spectacular but thoroughly satisfying effect. On the other hand, the Rainbow Roll (€7.90) was a most artful visual spectacle, an extravagant, multi-colour, multi-fish (salmon-orange, tuna-pink, and seabream white) California-style roll – almost too beautiful to be gobbled down in a few bites.

We also tried the prized Australian Hamachi (€8.90): a rare, velvet-textured fish, served simply with a sesame dressing (that didn’t lack in texture, but a bit in flavour), or delicately arranged around subtly dressed orange segments, a special concoction Xu is proud to have scored from a Houston chef.

We didn’t resist the lure of a bowl of homemade green tea ice-cream, which proved more flavourful than the crème brulée… but there’s more to come, as Xu will soon hire a dessert chef.

Hashi seems especially popular with women – lots of great salads; playful, often whimsical sushi-inspired concoctions; and simple grill plates (the well-seasoned Teriyaki Salmon) that the ladies from the women-only gym next door must devour after exercising.

With perhaps a little more clarity on the menu and more truly vegetarian choices (and maybe spices with more bite?), Hashi should thrive as one of Berlin’s most ambitious experiments in Asian restauranteering – and we’re not just talking about the chopsticks on the ceiling.