• Food
  • Top Chef: Lauren Lee


Top Chef: Lauren Lee

Twice a month, we shine a spotlight on our favourite chefs in the city. This time round it's the Korean-American expat behind Prenzlauer Berg fusion Imbiss Fraulein Kimchi.

Image for Top Chef: Lauren Lee
Photo by Pierre Martiniere

Twice a month, we shine a spotlight on our favourite chefs in the city. This time round we profile the Korean-American expat behind Prenzlauer Berg fusion Imbiss Fraulein Kimchi.

The food trend you hate the most?

There’s not really any food trend that I hate as long as it ups the ante for good food. So far, I think most of the trends hitting Berlin have been pretty positive, and I find it fortuitous that the timing for my own restaurant managed to be on track with the current hype for Korean food and all things kimchi. I’d like to think that we may have played a small part in creating the current kimchi craze. I do find, like with the burger frenzy, there ends up being a lot of sub par restaurants that open with any new trend and you have to be more savvy as a customer on which places to go to.

The best­selling item at your restaurant?

It’s a close call between the Ramenburger and the Korean Blackjack, although it really does vary depending on the clientele. I would say that most of our European customers gravitate towards the Ramenburger and Blackjack, but a lot of our American customers tend to order the Korean-Mexican dishes more than the burgers. The Kimchi-Poutine is the most popular side dish and my homage to my early years in Canada, although my personal favorite is the nachos with kimchi-queso.

A cooking tip…

Making Korean food usually requires a lot of time and effort, but putting together recipes can be made faster and simpler if the vegetable prep is already done for the week. For example I peel up several heads of garlic and keep them in a jar in the fridge so that anytime I need garlic (which is always!) it’s ready to go. I also usually have minced green onions, minced ginger, and peeled onions on hand and wash up all the vegetables right when I buy them so that anytime I need some zucchini or carrots or greens I can just pull them out of the fridge and use. I also learned from my aunt to always make large amounts of everything! She would make enough Korean BBQ for 20 people then divide the meat up into smaller servings and freeze. Then when you need a quick meal you can just defrost some meat, grab some kimchi, make some rice and voila, you have dinner.

A dining tip (other than your own restaurant)…

My favorite old school Korean restaurant is Hanok in Charlottenburg.  It’s a bit pricier than some of the other Korean restaurants, but I’ve always been happy with the food there. For Chinese dumplings my go to is the Wok Show in Prenzlauer Berg. Volta on Brunnenstraße makes my favourite burger – only second to the Big Crack at the Bird. I’m also a sucker for schnitzel and after having eaten my way around town I still think Jolesch makes one of the best in Berlin.

The best thing about having a restaurant in Berlin?

I love meeting all the new people who come into the restaurant when I’m working and it’s a big pleasure to be able to cook food and watch people eat and enjoy it. I must also say after years of sharing tiny rental kitchens with too many rotating chefs, it has been heaven to just have our own home base to work and grow our catering company from and build up a nice group of employees and customers. And of course, every other Friday, I get to indulge my not so secret love of karaoke!

The worst…

Owning a restaurant means you never get a day off. My partner and I have had maybe a handful of free days in the past year. Since he also happens to be my boyfriend, our version of dating now is actually having a random evening free to do important things, like laundry and taxes, while ordering take-out and binge watching zombie shows on Netflix.

Fräulein Kimchi, Kollwitzstraße 46, Prenzlauer Berg, U-Bhf Senefelderplatz, Tue-Thu 17-22:00, Fri-Sat 12-22:00, Sun 17:00-22:00