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NaNum: Seven courses of unforgettable Korean fish

Every Friday, Jinok Kim-Eicken serves a seven-course menu of Korean fish for €80 at NaNum - the experience is one of Berlin's most spectacular.

Striped perch with orange wine. Photo: Clemens Niedenthal

Across from the Jewish Museum in Kreuzberg is NaNum, a restaurant where you can dine more spectacularly (and affordably) than any other place in Berlin. Let’s meet this Korean gem and its accomplished hostess Jinok Kim-Eicken.

Friday fish: Seven courses at NaNum

Near the start of the seven-course fish menu starts comes a delicious golden trout. These fish come from the far west of Brandenburg and are marinated and matured for three weeks in the dry-aging fridge – an interesting choice, seeing as this technique is usually associated with beef. The trout come out firm, but retain a fine texture and an intense, umami flavour.

Then there is the razor clam from the West Frisian Wadden Sea. Though Jinok Kim-Eicken calls it a “plain pancake”, it is really a pleasant, tasty, heartfelt promise of happiness, just like her restaurant itself. The seven-course fish option is currently served only on Fridays for €80.

Jinok Kim-Eicken: Alto, ceramic artist, hostess

Jinok Kim-Eicken came to Berlin from Korea in 1978 as a DAAD scholarship holder. She appeared on stage as an alto (singing with world stars such as Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau), she trained as a ceramic artist before, finally, at the age of 66, just as her friends from the Marxist reading club were retiring, she opened her own restaurant. Alongside NaNum she runs a ceramics studio where she makes the dinner plates her guests eat from. She plans to continue these projects until she is at least 80; one can’t help but wonder what new artistic endeavour she will try her hand at next.

Jinok Kim-Eicken in her ceramics studio. Photo: F. Anthea Schaap

As Kim-Eicken researches and tests new offerings, she descends into the collective memory of simple, rural Korean cuisine. She weaves these memories into fresh hamburgers made from fish and sea creatures from the North Sea, collected using sustainable fishing practices. This prioritisation of quality and simplicity is key to NaNum’s dishes: the striped bass in the main course needs nothing more than a dip of crab and soy sauce (and a glass of the outstanding 2016 Oran from the Demeter winemaker Fritz Salomon).

NaNum offers depth of flavour and simplicity

You can certainly find high-quality food at other places in Berlin, such as Marco Müller’s Restaurant Rutz or Dylan Watson-Brawn’s Ernst, (one of the best restaurants in Wedding). But those restaurants are not only more expensive, they’re also much more uptight. Jinok Kim-Eicken mingles at her guest’s tables the whole evening, advising guests them to wrap the pickled anchovies in sesame leaves and eat them with their fingers (it just tastes better that way).

More on the topic

NaNum is on our list of Berlin’s top Korean restaurants. Still hungry in Kreuzberg? Check out these brunch places. You can’t go wrong with one of Berlin’s many vegan Asian restaurants. Prefer to cook at home? You can find Berlin’s best sustainable fish shops here. For the latest tips and stories about food and drink in Berlin, check out our food and drink section.