Vietnamese/Japanese Fusion in Berlin: Does Vinpearl Restaurant get it right?

Vinpearl Restaurant’s ‘manifesto ’is to bring together the best of Vietnamese and Japanese cuisines and design and to serve these up in a contemporary, stylish setting. Its certainly delightful to find this genuinely stylish and tasteful restaurant in the environs of the sometimes pretentious, yuppiesville that is Helmholz Platz.

The ambience is really chilled – they’re usually playing some decent Asian lounge/electrojazz; the vibe is warm and the staff friendly and attentive. But what about the food?

 

We’ve visited several times for dinner and lunch and sampled a fair amount of the dishes on offer. This last time, for lunch, it was a little early to start on the great cocktails (though they also have a delicious and interesting range of non-alcoholic fruity blends) and given the cold day we opted for some teas from the big selection. I went for the Tra Xa Gung which is a divine concoction including lemon grass, ginger, lime leaves and honey. My lunch partner opted for the calming effects of the Tra Hoa Sen (lotus blossom infusion) and while we perused the menus we demolished a basket of very more-ish prawn crackers-probably the most unhealthy thing on the menu.

 

The menu is divided into Vietnamese and Japanese options and they also have some changing daily specials. The Japanese offerings comprise some basic tempura and soup options, as well as a good range of sushi dishes, while the Vietnamese options are more extensive and comprise the typical soups and noodle dishes, as well as some salads, grilled titbits and summer rolls, billed as ‘Vietnamese Tapas’.

 

Having eaten some super fresh, melt in the mouth sashimi, crispy rolls and inside out rolls on a previous visit, we decided to give the Vietnamese dishes a go. I opted for the Nem Ran (spring roll) selection (€3.20) filled with chicken, prawn, rice noodles and salad with a spicy dipping sauce, which were sublime. I was less impressed by my main course, which was the Pho Gu (€6.60) – a traditional noodle soup with chicken, lime leaves, basil, fresh lime and spring onions. The serving was huge, but the chicken was stringy and the whole dish quite bland-I’m all for subtlety and balance in cooking espoused by the Vietnamese but this soup tasted all yin and no yang. My friend was happier with her choices-a delicious Sup Hoanh Thanh (Wantan soup) at €3.20 to start followed by the Bun Bo La Lot (€7.50) (essentially a dish of spiced beef rolled in pepper leaves and fried), which was definitely palatable.

 

With little room for desert, we shared the mango rice pudding, which sweetened the deal So does Vinpearl get it right? In terms of pricing, ambience and service, I’d say ‘yes’. And the sushi is certainly fantastic, but the Vietnamese? Maybe I’m a cretin, but I’m just not sure. You’ll have to try it for yourselves

Opening hours: daily from 12

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