Taro Fujita wants to put a new spin on Japanese cuisine in Berlin. The club and restaurant owner, who has hot spots in Tokyo and Ibiza, was drawn to Berlin for its music. He kept importing DJs from the German capital to play in his clubs, and they kept asking him why he didn’t open a restaurant in Berlin. Ula Berlin was the result — a lounge-y spot on a quiet neighborhood corner in Mitte that blends tastes of Japan and Europe.
Ula, which means “back” or “behind” in Japanese, is a bit off the beaten path, but on any given night, some of Berlin’s top turntable talents might be dining there. Photographs of Japanese tattoo art is on display in a downstairs gallery.
Menu remixes include Wagyu beef and foie gras nigiri (18 euros, or $22), sesame-roasted tuna with wasabi mashed potatoes and miso-balsamic sauce (21 euros, or $26), and a lighter-than-air green tea cheesecake (8 euros, or $10). Special dishes take advantage of seasonal regional specialties, such as spring’s white asparagus. Ula also features Aburi-sushi, a lesser-known preparation that involves lightly broiling the fish to give it a hybrid raw-cooked texture.
Pair them with a wasabi Bloody Mary (10.50 euros, or $13) or the sake-based Ula cocktail (11 euros, or $14) or a stiff Japanese Whiskey — Suntory Yamazaki 12Y and Nikka Yoichi 10Y are available (15.50 and 16 euros, respectively, or about $19 and $20). Several premium sakes are also on offer to match any mood or food.
— Susan Stone
8 Anklamer Strasse, 10115 (Mitte)
Tel.: +49-0-30-8937-9570 email@example.com, Open daily from 6 p.m.
ART & COMMERCE
“Black Antoinette,” the second monograph by Berlin’s internationally active illustrator Olaf Hajek, is a cornucopia of beauties and beasts, flora and fantasy, and multicultural crossovers and contradictions.
The book also spans the worlds of art and commerce, Hajek’s signature “magical realism” as much in evidence in his advertising and editorial assignments for the likes of Montblanc, Universal Music, Design Hotels, the New York Times Book Review, Rolling Stone and Vogue Japan, as in his growing oeuvre for art galleries and collectors. The 144-page, full-color tome from Berlin publishing house Gestalten launches July 5 during Berlin Fashion Week.
As for the title’s Black Antoinettes, Hajek, a frequent visitor to South Africa who also had his first gallery show there, sees them as “symbols of power and beauty, and the pride of African culture.”
On the commercial front, Hajek’s projects also include a fabric pattern he designed for the Swedish brand Minimarket, wallpapers for Vienna’s 25 Hour Hotel and an animation of his images for TV Globo Brazil.
“All my commercial work is influenced by my artwork, because I do show my art to clients, prompting ideas,” he noted.
If there is a split between the worlds, he suggested it has more to do with size than style. “Plus, my art is more painterly and focused on a different composition. In today’s world of illustration, I’m one of the only people still working as a painter and not digitally,” he added. “It’s a question of generation. I wasn’t educated on the computer. But having original work helps me take the step into doing more art.”
— Melissa Drier
Black Antoinette, Gestalten Space, Sophie-Gips-Höfe
21 Sophienstrasse, 10178 (Mitte)
Hours: Opening July 5, 6 to 9 p.m.
July 5 to Aug. 5: Sunday to Friday, noon to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
AT JOURNEY’S END
Finding the Long March Canteen might feel like a trek or even a trick — the dim sum spot is somewhat hidden behind its playful exterior, including a faux-barricaded door, wild graffiti, and, currently, scaffolding. But inside, the food doesn’t mess around. This sister restaurant to dumpling spot Yumcha Heroes offers some of the same dishes, but adds the mix-and-match fun of choosing cold dishes a la carte — and from a cart. Friendly wait-staff wheel an array of small plates, including succulent seared tuna with red beets and edamame, honey-glazed spare ribs, silken tofu with thousand-year-old eggs and preserved vegetables and jellyfish carpaccio. Cold dishes run 5 to 9.50 euros, or about $6 to $12.
Warm dishes supplement the cart’s instant gratifications — crispy tofu with salt, chili, garlic and Thai basil, grilled baby squid, pork belly with baby asparagus and Peking duck. Hot dishes range from 6 to 15 euros, or about $7.50 to $19. Dumplings are available baked, steamed, or in soup, in a wide variety of fillings — meat, fish, and vegetable (4.50 to 7 euros, or about $6 to $9). Finish the meal with a chocolate version dressed with cinnamon and vanilla sauce (5.50 euros, or about $7).
The interior, designed by Ett la Benn — the team behind many of Berlin’s best-dressed restaurants — plays with Sino-kitsch, but the open ceilings, family-style long tables, industrial lamps and chopstick dispensers keep everything on track.
Long March Canteen
20 Wrangelstrasse, 10997 (Kreuzberg)
Web: longmarchcanteen.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Hours: Daily, 6 p.m. to midnight
Chocolate purist Holger in’t Veld, author of the book “Chocolate Rebels,” which reveals the ugly side of the global cocoa business, could have been bitter about the closing of his namesake Berlin chocolate shops in 2010. Instead, he got creative.
His new venture is Bitterveld, a combination cafe and shop that offers a lesson in cocoa culture and crafted cuisine, with an accent on fair trade, organic ingredients and innovation. Salmon is marinated in chocolate and lime, veal and pasta are matched with apricot and fennel. A mint and pea risotto is strewn with smoked Scamorza cheese (about 6 to 14 euros, or $7.50 to $17.50), and the frozen tomato starter melds gazpacho and granita (3 euros, or $3.75). A smooth and not overly sweet demi-tasse of hot chocolate made with water is a revelation, and a good replacement for espresso — morning or night (3 euros, or $3.75).
There’s also a mini-section of takeaway sweets, offering international fair trade chocolate, artisanal Swedish licorice, and of course Bitterveld’s own blended bars, including Fruchtziege, which includes goat milk powder, blood orange essence and a pinch of salt, and Peffernuss, which combines walnut nougat and Tellicherry peppercorns.
3 Lettestrasse, 10437
Web: bitterveld.de; email@example.com
Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m, Thursday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Should all the clothes to be seen on the MBFWB runway and Berlin’s multiple trade fairs begin to blur one’s vision, two shows of monumental nudes by two masters of the genre — Helmut Newton and Ralph Gibson — can provide an antidote.
The Museum of Photography is focusing on Newton’s first three legendary publications: “White Women,” “Sleepless Nights” and “Big Nudes,” which include many of his most iconic works. In “White Women” (1976), Newton used nudity within the visual world of fashion. “Sleepless Nights” (1978) is again all about women, their bodies and their clothes, and for the first time in this exhibition, one can see three smaller series of images of half-naked models in orthopedic body braces. “Big Nudes” (1981) with its larger-than-life Amazons, brought Newton’s naked vision to a new dimension and has never been out of print.
In comparison, Camera Work’s Ralph Gibson solo show encompasses four decades and more than 60 photographs of the photographer, now 73. On view are mystic-surrealistic images from “The Somnambulist” series (1970) to the subtle eroticism of another Seventies series, “Days at Sea,” to some of his most recent nudes. “I love photographing women and could say that the form of the female body is absolute and perfect,” he once said.
— Norma Quinto
Helmut Newton Foundation, Museum of Photography
2 Jebenstrasse, 10623 (Charlottenburg)
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday until 10 p.m.