In Berlin, you are likely to find imbiss kiosks lining every main street and subway station, selling everything from Chinese food to ‘curry’.
Loosely translated, the word can mean snack bar or fast food, and these stalls operate as the German equivalents of Mumbai’s thelewalas.
An eponymous, first-of-its-kind restaurant in a quiet Bandra lane prefers the tagline ‘Meating Joint’. And it is indeed heavy on meaty German food.
The only soup on the menu is the Hungarian goulash, a rich stew of beef and vegetables. This is followed by a meaty cascade of sausages, smokehouse meats and schnitzels, punctuated by more meat — beef roast, Bavarian ham and cheese (in sandwiches), Mexican chorizo rice, wings, ribs, kebabs, burgers, jerky, hot dogs and those glorious bits of fried pork rind known most appropriately as crackling.
There is one vegetarian dish: eggplant schnitzel. Two, if you count the side of garlic bread. Even the egg options offer a touch of adventure — diners can pick pickled quail ones or fried duck ones.
Imbiss is a tiny, two-level restaurant; an open kitchen behind a deli counter sizzles and wafts, with owner Bruce Rodrigues hopping in and out with a notepad, alternately taking and calling out orders. It’s been open two months, and even though it has only recently received media attention, on Tuesday we had to wait for an upstairs table.
Our first picks of goulash and crackling were not available, so we chose an all-chicken platter of cold cuts — paprika salami, mortadella, luncheon meat and ham, sliced perfectly for delicacy and bite, bordered by good garlic bread and accompanied by a little bowl of mayo.
The seared duck sausage that followed was as springy-soft as a marshmallow and not too gamey, a good initiation for the as yet duck averse. Sliced smoked pork shoulder with fat and rind didn’t quite hit the spot; it took too much knifework for too little porky flavour rewards.
Our weiner schnitzel was as much fun as crumb-fried chicken, if we decided to forget that there was veal inside the nicely seasoned, crunchy shell.
It’s easy to forgive Imbiss its little hiccups, though. Rodrigues is hands-on — he listened keenly to feedback and recommended dishes for our next visit. Factor in the reasonable prices and adventurous carnivores will certainly be coming back for more.