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WEN CHENG: CHINESE NOODLES HAND-PULLED IN PRENZLAUER BERG — RECOMMENDED BY MAGDALENA KOMAR
I have a soft spot for noodles. So when I tried the chunky, delicious variety offered at Wen Cheng, I was completely bewitched. The trick at this in-demand Prenzlauer Berg restaurant is to eat correctly: specifically, you have to mix your noodles with the oil before eating them. In fact, owner Rui Gao checked our table several times to check whether we had blended our dishes well enough to get the best taste. Only then do the flavors of chilli, Sichuan pepper, cinnamon, cumin, garlic and spring onion combine to make an explosion in your mouth. That’s the magic of hot oil! On the menu you’ll find two kinds of noodles: Biang Biang – served with either beef, tofu and shitake, or lamb and cumin – and Wen Cheng, a less oily option with additional pickles to bring freshness. Meanwhile, for smaller appetites there’s tofu or chicken Bao buns served with Szechuan pepper aioli. Incidentally, the name “Biang Biang” is inspired by the sound created when the noodles are slapped and stretched out in the kitchen (you can witness this yourself behind the restaurant’s counter!). The place is owned by brothers Rui and Peng Gao, who shared the story behind the name with us: Wen Cheng is a dying dialect spoken by their mother in the province of Zhejiang in China. By naming their restaurant Wen Cheng, they are keeping the memory of the family’s heritage alive.
Text: Magdalena Komar / Photos: Savannah van der Niet
Magdalena Komar is a chef and food stylist based in Berlin. You’ll find her doing plant-based pop-ups around town.
FORWARD-LOOKING LEARNING FOR TEENS WITH A FOCUS ON DIGITAL ARTS AND TECH — TUMO IN CHARLOTTENBURG
If you have a teenager, you’ll know that it can be a challenge keeping them inspired and occupied. For a creative outlet that comes with high-tech cred it might be worth checking out Tumo, a forward-thinking learning hub that lets kids aged 12 to 18 discover their talents. Billed as a “Center for Creative Technologies”, the Charlottenburg space runs an after-school program that’s both fun and future-proof: 3D animation, film, robotics, programming and music are amongst the ten techy skills taught here. The concept originally hails from Armenia, where coaching kids to thrive in next-gen industries has long been the norm. This horizon-broadening ethos has now made it to Berlin, and here particular importance is placed on letting teens experiment. Once signed up, youngsters attend two two-hour sessions a week where they pursue their chosen skill both independently and under the guidance of coaches. If, having started, your teenager decides she wants to put down her drawing pen and start building robots, it’s a simple case of switching programs. All the sessions are held at the Tumo center, whose polished concrete and glass interior is the polar opposite of tired school classrooms. If this sounds like the ideal addition to your teen’s classic school subjects (and a nifty way to get them out of the house) then go and get them signed up online. The best part of the deal: participation is totally free!
Text: Benji Haughton / Photos: Timotheus Theisen & Tumo
You don’t even have to set foot inside Hagius to see that it is anything but an ordinary gym. Visible through the glass frontage of this former post office on Torstraße is a minimalist stone, metal and wood interior that is as soothing as it is stimulating. Step inside and you’re met not with blaring TV screens and fluorescent light strips, but flowing fabrics and aromatherapy. All this combines to give a vibe that’s more luxe urban loft than sweaty sports studio. Open since September 2021, the place is the creation of Timothy and Nicolas Hagius, two brothers from Berlin whose goal is not to make their clients simply work their muscles, but to develop physical and mental well-being in equal measure. That’s why they worked with Berlin architects Pierre Jorge Gonzalez and Judith Haase to create a stylish space that’s packed with high-spec kit, from smart lighting and sound systems to the innovative hairdryers in the shower rooms.
That said, this is first and foremost a place for working out, and as such it offers the usual drop-in classes like boxing, circuit sessions and pilates. The difference here is that class sizes are kept small, so you’re guaranteed to get personal attention. Also unique are the methods and styles used: the body awareness class for instance combines movement, mobility and play, while the soon-to-be-launched “wake up” sessions are designed around your circadian rhythm. The private Katonah yoga class we attended was a revelation: an innovative, dreamy style of Hatha that originates from New York, it’s led by the encouraging, patient Antonia who is one of only a handful of people in Germany qualified to teach it. After an indulgent post-session shower and a ginger shot, we left Hagius feeling revived, satisfied and looking forward to our return…
I have always wanted to try my hand at making ceramics, but tend to be put off by the seemingly tricky techniques and delicate materials. At Marsano – a place you might know for its fancy flower arrangements and vintage furniture – Katrin Tettenborn is running pottery classes that are tailor made for tentative hands. Surrounded by plants, furniture and a sky of dried flowers, me and seven other participants were introduced to the so-called handbuilding technique. Using just my hands, I formed my first object from a fist-sized lump of clay, and soon enough any anxieties about making a mistake faded. The group is then invited to make pieces in various sizes and shapes using plaster molds, allowing you to make a series of objects and perhaps even a whole table service. From teacups to gigantic salad bowls, anything is possible.
After the first workshop comes the so-called biscuit firing, where the pieces are placed in a kiln at 600 degrees without a ceramic glaze. The group then reconvenes to see how many pieces have withstood the high temperatures, after which it’s time for glazing. Different colors and techniques give the pieces an individual touch and, like with the pottery, you’re given free rein to experiment. The atmosphere is relaxed and conducive to good conversation – though you can of course sit in silence and meditate as you work the material. In the end you get to take home beautiful ceramic objects that have an everyday use. I for one want to keep making pottery, and will join one of Marsano’s open workshops on the third and fourth Tuesday of the month. They’re open to anyone who already knows the basics.
Text: Nicola Sifrin / Photos: Sophie Döring
Marsano, Charlottenstr.75, 10117 Berlin–Mitte; map
You can check upcoming course dates online.
CELEBRATING GEOMETRY IN FURNITURE — COLORFUL OBJECTS AND INTERIOR CONCEPTS BY JÄLL & TOFTA
As nice as life in this city is, it’s not compromise-free. If you live in a Berliner Altbau you’ll probably have a floor plan whose wonkiness can turn furniture arranging into a game of Tetris. If you want to bring order to your digs whilst making them look as pretty as possible, the furniture from Jäll & Tofta is definitely worth a look-in. From their Kreuzberg studio, Sina Gwosdzik and Jakob Dannenfeldt have developed a range of design objects and interior concepts that work perfectly in charm-filled but crooked old buildings. The pair’s seamlessly designed pieces are inspired by Bauhaus and Memphis, like the Miami side table whose lacquered wood frame and marble top resembles a Joan Miró painting but has a practical use as a sofa companion. Meanwhile, offering a nostalgic throwback to the 1980s is the 3L Shelf system, which stands ready and waiting for your next cocktail party. The collection includes pieces for all rooms and scenarios, from a bunk bed with integrated shelving that will thrill the little ones to island kitchens offering functionality in small rooms. With these high-impact concepts, Jäll & Tofta show how design can shine in even the most awkward of spaces.
Text: Hanna Komornitzyk / Photos: Anne Deppe
Jäll & Tofta, Arndtstr.39, 10965 Berlin–Kreuzberg; map
You can make an appointment for a consultation online.