November 07 2011
I have to admit that I had my reservations when our host announced that our first night in Berlin would be spent eating a mix of Asian and Latin American food in a dance bar-restaurant. (As fusion food goes, this seemed a combination too far; also, I hate having to shout at my fellow diners.) However, when, at 10pm, we knocked on a numberless, nameless door set under the arches of an S-Bahn bridge, I knew that we had left the tourist trail, and by the time the supremely chic gatekeeper had granted us entry, I was growing nervous about my wardrobe choice.
Because Cantina is über cool. Opened in 2009 and designed by Robert Neun architects, a practice with its roots firmly planted in the Berlin underground scene, it is indeed in the same building as a dance bar, but it occupies its own, industrial-meets-jewel box space and its open-fronted kitchen is presided over by one of the city’s hottest Asian chefs.
And the food is not fusion at all. There are Asian dishes and there are Latin American dishes which, as our lovely and somewhat poetic waiter explained, “are kept separate so you have two dining cultures dancing across one table”. He advised us to choose the sharing menu, which meant we were treated to a succession of tapas-sized dishes including ceviche, spicy piementos, sashimi salad, US prime beef steak, gourmet pork buns and quite the best black miso cod I have ever eaten. I can’t remember what we drank but it was white, cold and buttery – and so plentiful that at the end of the meal we decided to try out the dance bar, Tausend. And rather mellow and soulful it was too.
Open Tuesday-Saturday from 7.30pm. Dishes range from around €6-€28.