THE ULTIMATE BIANCO GUIDE TO RAMEN IN TOKYO STONE ISLAND SPECIAL A TROUBLED CITYS UNDERGROUND SCENE TECHWEAR WITH A PURPOSE
The Bianco Guide To Hamburg For Lovers

The Bianco Guide To Hamburg For Lovers

Time for a new Bianco city guide and time for a new partner to join me on my food adventures: Mastercard. In cooperation with Mastercard, I will present you with another food journey, introducing you to a widely accepted payment method that sounds highly futuristic for some of us Germans: contactless payment.

Mastercard knew that I would rather be spending my time eating incredible food and finding the best possible restaurants a town can offer, and not searching for ATMs to get more money for my adventures. Therefore a collaboration and sponsored post with Mastercard makes a lot of sense for my belly and me, right?

For a Berliner like me, the idea of paying with your card had almost turned into an urban myth. My pockets were accustomed to being full of coins and dirty Euro bills, so I was looking forward to using my Debit Mastercard all around Hamburg.

The places mentioned this guide will not only allow you to pay with your Debit Mastercard or a classic credit card easily, but everything under 25 Euros takes just a swift, contactless slide over their payment terminal. You can leave any restaurant faster than saying “Marco Polo”.

The Debit Mastercard is an entirely new hybrid of classic payment methods, combining the benefits from a credit card and debit card, formerly known as ec-card. You can safely buy your sneakers online, or dine out in any city without hassle.

So where did I use my Debit Mastercard and why do I keep talking money instead of food?

Same as in my Kyoto, Rome and Zurich guides, I will present you a unique guide for lovers. This means you can bring your man/woman/whomever, and have a great date, dinner, or overall adventure.

It wasn't just me that did their food crimes in Hamburg: my friends In Search Of, Mit Vergnügen and Blow The Gaff joined me to explore the city’s food scene. So make sure to check out their sites for more Hamburg food content. You can find those guides here and here. And as always, these places will also welcome lonely eaters that love to eat their fish, steak, and pasta solo - which is my favourite way to enjoy a meal.

Continue reading below and follow my food frenzy through Hamburg. Enjoy!

 

Momo

Let's start this guide with a personal food staple, and something I try out in every city: Ramen. To be more specific, Ramen at Momo. Starting this guide for lovers properly, my good friend Kane met me there as my friend-date for the evening to talk about future creative crimes, ramen, and other random shit.

Just by looking at the line and how packed the place was from outside, Momo seems to be the most famous ramen spot in Hamburg. A big plus is their waiting room and downstairs bar where you can start getting drunk before you’re seated.

After a couple shots of their very own Yuzu Sake, a Japanese lemon infused sake, we have finally been seated and served our ramen bowls.

As a humble brag, I've eaten in over 100 ramen restaurants in Japan. Also keep in mind that Bianco 1. loves Ramen and 2. keeps it more than honest lately (shout out to the Deerupt). With that being said, it's very risky to sit a ramen belly like me in ramen restaurant, in a European city. I won’t hesitate to rag on some shitty ramen. Now that I got that out of the way, let's talk about my Momo experience.

I had the Cha Siu (pork belly) which was super tender, smooth, and not forcibly authentic Japanese, but still very, very good.

After the Yuzu Sake, I went for some Yuzu infused ramen. This isn’t something I do that often. Yuzu ramen, as my Tokyo friends will know from Afuri, is very light and is known for not knocking you out after finishing the bowl. I usually don’t mind those ramen knockouts, but on a hot summer day in Hamburg with a lot of food on my schedule, it felt like the right move.

Their Onsen egg was mad on point; something I would expect in Tokyo and something I would not count on with all the time in Europe. Very smooth, very yolky. Perfect. The chicken pieces were tender; nothing to complain about and nothing to scream out for. The broth and noodles were also on a nice level. I could sense the yuzu and the noodles were cooked well and nicely swimming in between all the other stuff. It was still an almost too-light experience and I was missing some strong taste. Even with being light a Yuzu ramen, I needed a more signature movement going on in this bowl.

Overall the whole taste was legit. It was legit for a European city and legit for a restaurant that is designed for serving a shitload of ramen bowls each day. This is the main difference between Japanese and non-Japanese Ramen restaurants. With only a few exceptions (Hi Ichiran), a Japanese Ramen-ya has a about 10 to 16 seats, with the best spots having around only 8 seats. From the broth to the noodles to every little extra bit in the bowl, the chef takes his time and focuses on the details. And not just while preparing the ramen, but while cooking up the broth days before.

Even though ramen is considered as a staple dish and working-class food, the most wonderful ramen chef will still take care to balance quality over quantity, with a massive lean to the quality side. This means some of these spots open at 11:30am and close at 1 or 2pm with a group of people, still waiting outside and hoping for their bowl. These chefs could open up a bigger restaurant, serve more dishes and make more money, but that would not allow them to deliver the quality they desire.

Even though I did not intend to dive so deep into my ramen-filled heart, this is just to explain the challenges ramen restaurants face in Europe. We’re just not used to having a restaurant suitable for 10 people that are only open for 4 to 8 hours of service. Who the fuck will pay the bills, right?

So with all of that said, Momo is a legit Ramen spot for the numbers and business they do. I really can't complain from my German side, but will refrain from asking the Japanese side of my ramen heart.

Ono

Why make my life easy and skip the Japanese Restaurants and just go for some casual German cuisine, when I can still keep trying to please my inner Japanese food god and go to Ono, a sushi restaurant that is run by Steffen Henssler? ... I was curious how a crazy fish city like Hamburg does Sushi, and I heard that Hensler the famous TV chef behind this restaurant is a fish pro. So I ended up at Ono deep down in a very fancy and luxurious part of Hamburg, trying to figure all of this out.

It has been a while I saw such a clean-cut neighbourhood with a massive concentration of caucasian people. There were even some popped collars, like damn.

Needless to say, I felt a bit misplaced when I sat down at Ono. In a room full of “old money” people, me and my Nike TNs were getting a little worked up. But the super lovely waitress and her colleagues were quick to help me chill out and feel more than welcome. Two amazingly good Sake Sours later, everything was more than fine, and I could eat my first Unagi and Tuna Nigiris in ages, in Germany. They were good! Like indeed, an excellent approach! Definitely not Tokyo level, but on a really good (different) level! The other starter was some salmon in some fancy broth that tasted good, but was covered in too many random bits that distracted me from the main component - the fish.

Another Sake Sour later, I got my big assorted sashimi plate which, at first sight, surprised me. When I think about assorted sashimi, I think about raw fish, some decoration, wasabi, sometimes ginger - all on ice, clean and perfect.

The best way to describe this plate is probably the California-Roll-Cation of a sashimi plate: Same as all those special California Rolls, dripped in miso mayo, teriyaki sauce and all other fancy stuff. It was covered in everything from white foam to some brown butter, and the tuna was entirely covered in a thick sauce made of something that I can’t even remember. I can’t say this did not taste good in any way, (the brown butter on the salmon sashimi was terrific) but when it comes to sushi, I am a purist. I let the quality of the fish talk, I dip briefly into soy sauce, and wait for the essential ingredients to make love with my taste buds.

So yes, this meal was excellent. The nigiri was very good, but the rest was covered in too many unnecessary things for me to speak to the actual sushi.


Cambre Basse

Now it’s time for less words and more drinks. That was a pretty easy feat at Cambre Basse.

I had a couple of drinks in this sleek yet cool place and loved them all. I didn’t order anything specific, but instead asked the barkeeper to create anything he likes for my drinking pleasure, (pretty much the omakase way) and it totally worked out. They take drinks here seriously, like, totally dedicated/serious. They were also strong enough to beat down your inner Bukowski.

As an extra, I want to mention that I have never been to a bar with this solid of a playlist. It might have been the early hours or the barkeepers taking advantage of an opportunity to not turn on music for the bullshit taste of some patrons, but one hour of tunes here was better than any instance of handing over your aux cable to someone else, probably in history. Bangin’.

Meatery

Let's pull out some big weaponry and talk about Meatery. Hidden in the ground floor of some bougie hotel, this steak hub is here for you and your meat cravings. It’s one pricey spot, but definitely a very, very good spot for steaks, while being equipped with some high-tech 800-degree steak fryer or whatever it was. You know, one of these machines/hot planes that creates this picture perfect caramelised upper on your steak that hides some perfectly rare meat underneath the surface? God damn, yes.

The selection of cuts and variation there were impressive. From Dry Age to Tatar, you will find some real meat love there. Extra kudos to the potato gratin; that side was one for the books. It was something Moses would have brought down the mountain if people asked for 10 perfect potato dishes straight from God instead of commandments.

Of course, if you know how to cook a steak properly like myself, you can’t help but start to count your euros and think about what you would have done for the same amount of money. It's a gift and a curse to be able to cook steak perfectly, but the Meatery is a place to happily be lazy and wait for your steak to show up without anything to criticize.

Hensler & Hensler

Back to Hensler again. You know the guy who owned and ran the first fancy Japanese sushi restaurant mentioned above? I did not want to give up on him and his sushi and thought to try his other spot, titled twice his namesake. But this time, I only focused on fish and the more plain stuff. I learned my lesson the first time and left all the foam and pan-Asian fine dining dishes off my plate, and just ordered a simple ensemble of nigiri. Again, the Nigiri was excellent. The fish quality was superb, with extra kudos to the tempura nigiri. I could see the guy preparing the tempura and was able to approve the dish just by watching him do his thing. Well done.

Hensler & Hensler might be the better choice if you want to go for some sushi in a fancy-ish atmosphere. It is more central and more casual than Oni and super close to the harbour, which makes it a beautiful excursion destination if you want to combine tourist walks with wasabi and soy sauce.

Café Paris

Let’s me finally mention a spot in this guide that I fell 100% in love with: Café Paris. Even with only having a half litre cider and one creme brûlée, I can confidently recommend this spot. I could feel, smell and see that this place had it all. Since 1883, they have been serving French cuisine, and the interior shows. I felt like I was sent to another time zone and country. I wish I could have had more time in Hamburg to go there again to dig deeper into their menu and drink selection. So please, go there and drink and eat, or just go for breakfast or lunch. I'm sure you will like it here a lot.

Tarantella

We be stayin’ fancy and pop into Tarantella. We actually went to a lot of lavish restaurants during our adventures, and every time I've entered one of these shiny spots, I did not know what to expect. The anticipation coming from someone who likes to keep things low-key was kind of exciting. I'm just not used to, nor do I like to be, treated like a prince, but since this is the guide for lovers, dates and all things good times, I made sure to check out some more romantic places.

The charm of Berlin at more pricey spots is that they still keep it very casual, sometimes rough, and not noble at all - with only a few exceptions. But Hamburg seems to have a real classic approach on these kinds of restaurants: They look posh, the service is sometimes overbearing, and you will definitely feel a bit lost in the grown-up world if you prefer dining out with a more casual and loose vibe. You know, like I do.

But Tarantella was really the cherry on top. This place was deep blue, noble-suede-expensive, and I can guarantee you it all makes sense once the waitress brings your first dish. Sitting in a beautiful old castle-like building, which also holds a casino, I had a bangin’ menu in front of me.

We started off pretty easy with some oysters and artichoke, then geared up to some asparagus. The one reason I'm so hyped about telling you about this place? The best Wiener schnitzel I’ve had in years. Yes, I mean years.

This was the best choice and 100% the reason I’ll go back to this place when I visit Hamburg. The perfect balance of tender veal, perfect breading, and on-point side dishes made this a picture perfect Wiener schnitzel. As a Bavarian with Austrian roots, and having a grandma that used to love and master the Vienna Cuisine better than anyone else, this was an unheard of feat. But they totally nailed it.

I also noticed they have their Wiener schnitzel on the lunch menu, so next time I’ll skip all of the starters and have the classic Austrian dish and lots of wine on the side. Please do the same.

Le Plat du Jour

Let’s start to wrap up the guide with another highlight: another French restaurant with another excellent steak. At Le Plat du Jour you’ll find some solid French comfort food. Getting down to the basics, they served perfectly executed French staple dishes, from fish soup to foie gras de canard and crêpe "normande" with calvados. But the absolute highlight was the rump steak with picture perfect fries and everything else I normally dream about. It was cooked perfectly; a level I'm honestly not able to achieve at home all the time. You know, one of these beautiful steaks were you just had to proudly look at for 20 seconds just to appreciate the tenderness and colouring? It was like that.

It was damn good, I don't even have to tell you about the rest of the meal because this steak is enough of a reason to go there. But what is worth mentioning is the garlic mayonnaise served next to the fish soup. It was the most perfect unhealthy moment to add to my meal.

Ah, and the price! For a 3 course meal of your choice, it was 36,50 euros So worth the money in my eyes. I loved this place and need to find a French restaurant like this in Berlin immediately.

Hatari Pfälzer Stube

I will end this guide with something unromantic. Not for lovers, but still something beautiful: An Obatzda - a famous Bavarian dish from my birthplace that consists of cheese, onion, and more cheese.

The Obatzda at Hatari Pfälzer Stube was just what I wanted. The bread was incredible and the onions and pickled cucumber toppings were even more incredible. Everything was just lovely and something I had been missing for a very long time since leaving my hometown. It’s pretty ironic that I had to go to Hamburg to finally let my taste buds experience those flavours again, but Hatari did it for me. I would walk through fire to get an Obatzda like this in Berlin. Be a lover, go there, eat it, and drink a beer along with it and you’ll get happy real fast.

 

And that’s it! Thanks for reading this, and big thanks again to Mastercard for letting old Bianco having some fun with contactless payments. Until next time, xo.

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Video Premiere: Heartthrob By Kean Farrar

Video Premiere: Heartthrob By Kean Farrar