by James Glazebrook
Whatever your misgivings about the gentrification of Berlin, one obvious upside is that upscale restaurants are fast opening in the city. One of the most recent is ULA Berlin, a modern Japanese restaurant and bar with an intriguing menu and an enviable sake selection.
Once we had been welcomed inside the handsomest dinner spot we’ve been to in Berlin, we admired the warmly-lit dark wood interior while supping on distinctive, Eastern-influenced cocktails. Zoë enjoyed a smooth Asian Tonic (vodka, ginger ale, tonic, St. Germain, lemongrass stirrer), but the highlight was my Basil Smasch – gin with lemongrass, sugar syrup and basil. The Kubota sake we were then served was refreshing and sweet, whetting our appetites nicely.
Struggling to choose from all the delicious-sounding dishes, I made my life easier by opting for one of ULA’s set menus. You can see my centrepiece course, the Sukiyaki (Kanto style) – a hot pot of beef sirloin – sizzling away in the background of the photo below, behind Zoë’s grilled Iberian pork chop with soy sauce and butter.
For our other many, many courses, we chose equally well. ULA’s Three Signature Appetizers were particularly delightful: Sashimi shrimp and vegetables in Ponzu (citrus jelly), vegetable roll with tuna confit and sesame sauce, and chicken roll with budock root, served with grilled spring onion.
As well as this creative cooking, ULA offers that rare thing in Berlin: a decent dessert menu. We limited ourselves to sharing a flourless foundant au chocolat, with sesame and coconut crème glacée, which was rich and sumptuous, just like our surroundings. For refined dining and upscale Asian cuisine, both hard to find in this city, we thoroughly recommend ULA Berlin.