The Bianco Guide To Cologne For Lovers
Time for another Biancissimo guide, time for another cooperation with Mastercard. After I made my way through Hamburg to explore the good life of contactless payment and old Bianco in posh restaurants, Mastercard sent me to Cologne. Again they equipped me with their new Debit Card that made my contactless money life even easier. Instead of pulling bills and coins out of my pocket I just had to hover my Mastercard over the card reader and my money was gone and my belly more full.
I still don’t get why us Germans are so damn slow with adapting to this movement. Right before I went to Cologne I spent 10 days in the UK working on another project and right when I spent my first night in London visiting the first pubs and restaurants I remembered that my card was able to pay in this smooth way. To be honest it was my last Mastercard guide that influenced me to finally use this gimmick more often. But I wasn’t alone, actually almost no one in London was paying with cash, I only ever saw mobile payments, contactless payment and some smartwatches. After a couple of nights out I was already really enjoying my new freedom of not looking for cash in my pockets, but I also learned that you’ve got to control yourself to not completely burn down your whole account on drinks for you and your friends.
So back in Cologne I was more than ready to continue this cash-less life and ready to produce another guide for you guys. Cologne really is the perfect spot for that, since finding enough restaurants that accept this payment method wasn’t always easy but times will change for the better and I’m hoping for more and more places to follow this trend soon.
The Debit Mastercard, for example, is an almighty card that can do more than other cards. It is accepted worldwide and finessed for mobile payment via your smartphone or smartwatch. Thanks to a lovely thing called direct debiting, the new Debit Mastercard always makes my expenses transparent and easy to track. You guys should know that I haven’t even owned a wallet for about the last 7 or 8 years. I literally carry around my money in my pockets.
A smartwatch and a card is def the more suitable method for me and I’m still grateful that Mastercard is supporting Biancissimo and my belly with this partnership. Getting send to cities, eating food and meeting other people from In Search Of and Mit Vergnügen is a job I can totally enjoy.It's very me.
So let's start this!
The Bianco Guide To Cologne For Lovers
We start pretty simple but pretty good. The first spot I visited was Frittenwerk in the heart of Cologne, where they offer a lot of Belgium style fries - best fries on this planet - in a lot of fancy and Instagram ready options. I saw loads of different things, from various mayonnaises to cheese on top. Then some healthy options and all that other stuff that to be honest doesn’t interest me a single bit. I want the real, basic and authentic thing. Kind of like this guy that goes to a pizza place and tries the Marinara first, you know what I mean? If not, let's just say I ordered simple garlic fries with garlic mayonnaise (allow me that little garlic fanciness) and they were perfect. I’d have them again and again. Probably best after a wild night out, but this was during the day so I continued walking and eating instead of drinking and drinking.
DAIKAN IZAKAYA BAR
After this slow start, it was about time for some bigger attempts into Cologne’s food scene and another really tough job for the restaurant I was heading to. Daikan calls itself an Izakaya, which is a place to drink, eat (and smoke) in Japan. It's actually my favourite place to be once I am in Japan. Of course, again, it's not that fair to send my half Japanese belly into a restaurant outside of Japan, but I'm a good guy - same as in Hamburg with Momo, I’ll give you an honest but non-snobbish review on their Japanese cooking skills.
So Daikan first of all looks quite cosy, very sleek and modern. Not really like the Izakayas I’m used to but I do actually appreciate their interpretation of an Izakaya a lot. There is nothing more cringy than Asian restaurants that try to recreate an authentic Asian interior 1:1. I always end up feeling like I'm in a Disneyland theme park restaurant instead of in Asia. So well done, Daikan. There are still authentic vibes, especially with the counter right behind the ramen kitchen. Interestingly, I never saw a ramen kitchen that was used as a sushi kitchen at the same time, but I guess that's part of their own unique style.
Since I didn’t want to try another ramen and let the demons of my belly go full ham I ordered only small Japanese dishes. Also because this restaurant is called an Izakaya and ordering small dishes is what I’d do in any Izakaya in Japan. I went in super classic with some Gyoza and chicken Yakitori and modern and fancy with a Yuzu (Japanese lemon) lemonade. The Gyoza was good, kinda like how you get them almost everywhere in Japanese restaurants outside of Japan. Nothing to complain about at all, nothing to scream for either. It’s a dumpling filled with minced meat at the end of the day, everyone loves that. The chicken yakitori was ok and I very much liked the yuzu lemonade.
Ultimately, Daikan is a decent place for Japanese inspired food but for the full experience, I’d actually need to go back and try their ramen. Two friends I randomly met in the streets of Cologne were baffled when I told them I hadn’t tried Daikan’s noodle soup. So I’ll come back and you should definitely try it, too.
Parallel Record Store
Time for some music, time for some real love. This is a lovers guide at the end of the day. And since I mostly spent my time walking through the streets alone I had to make sure to at least put enough love into my belly and ears and that’s how I ended up here. Parallel offers an amazing collection of music, I guess also a couple of love songs, too.
Here you’ll find everything from Soul to Hip Hop and random things, listen to it and fall in love. It’s a great place for digging and diving into music and something you definitely shouldn’t miss when in Cologne.
We started the day with fries so obviously, we can't ending it without a burger. Freddy Schilling is the place to go and a real OG when it comes to a classic cheeseburger. Again, there would’ve been plenty of other options, but nothing can beat a classic cheeseburger and that's what I went for. This burger was on point, great flavour and perfect medium rare juicy meat. I loved it. There were some tables outside of the restaurant where I could chill and summon my inner powers to finish this big beautiful monster. I totally dug this burger and would eat it again if my body work balance wasn’t so out of hand lately. Eating and working is a gift and a curse. I’m not complaining, though.
Time for some drinks. Time for a small bar, with a very unique design when it comes to branding and their menu. I won’t tell you if I like what they do there, but what I can tell you is that they make great drinks - with funny unique names again - and that they have a truffle cheese sandwich on the menu that fucking hits the nail. This toast combined with a good drink is life, totally life. I wonder why no other bar offers handmade truffle cheese sandwiches next to their drinks. This is so necessary. Go there and do this combo. You will love me and them for that.
What makes Germany that great? And our food life? A diverse mix of cultures and a lot of immigrants that bring their very own food into German streets and cities. Reading my guides you’ll easily see that I really do not eat that much German food and I am sorry, I will most definitely continue this vibe. In Cologne I had to head over to one of the greatest food suppliers of my life - the Turkish cuisine. After all my trips through the UK and Japan I always start to miss my Adana, Dürum and all the other amazing foods our Turkish brothers and sisters have brought to our lives. I would not have survived Berlin without them and Cologne also offers an astonishing variety of Turkish delights.
A boss restaurant is called Mangal and you’ll find their booming business in a small lovely street close to the „Altstadt“. They run a couple of shops there and my favourite one was their big grill restaurant. Of course, I ordered the Adana and some Ayran and god damn this stuff was good.
Their flatbread was out if this world, very special and their Adana just a dream. Honestly, people, go there and be happy! Mangal offers very good service, a nice atmosphere and again and again, it struck me how much this grilling station reminds me of a Japanese Izakaya. Watching the old guys preparing and carrying for all kind so of meat on the grill is just magic!
Since I’m talking about Japan even while writing about a Turkish restaurant, it comes as no surprise that I went to another Japane inspired spot. Kaizen is a cosy restaurant that offers a variety of Japanese drinks and food. Their sake game is pretty strong, and that is despite me having to drink mine out of a big water glass. I guess they just picked up on my bright drinking aura. As said, the sake was good though and after two big glasses, I could feel my inner Samurai getting happy and ready for some more food.
Right next to a big Akira poster I ordered some tuna sashimi and Japanese grilled chicken aka Karage. Both dishes were on point, good quality and not that far off from my Japanese dreams. The tuna was very fresh, thick, beautifully sliced and a perfect kickoff for some more. The chicken was really crispy from the outside and perfectly tender on the inside. Exactly how you’d want it to be and then topped with some Japanese Mayonnaise!
The whole place is legit and approved. Oishi!
Once again we’re eating Japanese food and this time I’d even put my hands in hellfire to approve this place because Kintaro is just perfect. I had a delicious lunch menu consisting of a miso soup and ginger pork and rice next to it. I also ordered some unagi nigiri on top and talked a tiny bit Japanese (I don’t know that much) with the crew.
I could have gotten all of this in Tokyo and wouldn’t have missed a thing. This place is authentic, real, low key and very good. Just go there and see for yourself. Kintaro is hidden in a quiet street and has already become one of my favourite Japanese restaurants outside of Japan.
For my second to last spot, luckily I didn’t had to go that far. The Monkey bar was located right on the top floor of my hotel and I spent almost every night there drinking Gin Basil (very hipster) paying contactless (very smart) while listening to some good music or live DJ actions.
Not much to add to this place, other than the view is amazing and the service on point. Good drinks, good people and totally ok for both, lonesome Bukowski solo drinkers or bigger groups. Just take a ride with the elevator starting in the 25hours hotel and enjoy. Up and away.
Let’s end this guide with some pizza. A really good pizza and my Hotel room. After eating out in so many places, meeting so many faces, I had to slow down everything a bit. First of all, I literally ate way too much every day, so when I arrived at 485 to get my pizza I already knew that at this point my belly wouldn’t be able to take any more. So after watching them prepare my pizza and putting it in their badass oven, I carried my precious treasure back home to my hotel room.
I let it wait there for bit while I was up on the rooftop drinking my Gin Basil and it was still right there for me after coming home late (and the rest of it after waking up early.) Pizza is a very good friend - always- and that one from 485 is one level above. Perfect dough, perfect thickness or better said slimness and a very classic taste. An amazing ending in a beautiful city. Thank you cologne, thank you Mastercard.