As a 2nd generation Taiwanese American, I often wondered during childhood how different my life would’ve been if, like many of their classmates in Southern Taiwan, my parents had settled in Arcadia, California instead of New Berlin, Wisconsin. My only access to Taiwanese (adamantly never Chinese) food was through my Mom’s cooking.
As the 4th of 4 kids, though, my parents were financially able to travel by the time I rolled around, and I luckily traveled to California and Taiwan often to keep somewhat in contact with my roots. As my palate matured and diversified over the years, it was also groomed for the innate craving for noodles, broth and spice I continually have today.
Silver Lake is an anomaly of sorts. It’s known as one of the hippest neighborhoods in Los Angeles, though some easter-siders might argue that its time has past and has already gone by way of the tourist. Take, for example, that there are many movie settings that tout Silver Lake, but not Echo Park, Mt. Washington or Boyle Heights.
Sunset Junction, to be specific, is the site of the Los Angeles coffee resurgence, but the quality of Silver Lake’s new restaurants haven’t really kept the pace of the other burgeoning neighborhood’s eateries. Instead, it continues to be stocked with local favorites in lieu of destination restaurants with nearby residents regularly filling covers – and Silver Lake definitely prefers it that way.
I saw the alternating striped and plaid shirts over skinny jeans and under stocking caps through the glass walls even as I approached Berlin Currywurst in the rain. The interior of the former mom and pop pupusa spot had undergone minimal renovation and now carries a very different vibe, albeit more appropriate and fitting into the context of Sunset Junction. The yellow walls have been whited out and a mosaic of B&W photography is now the centerpiece. Diners eat at distressed wooden tables on school chairs and benches.
I’m loving the concept because, ironically, Berlin Currywurst is exactly where I want it and I know that it’s not going to drive away like another Los Angeles food truck, forcing me to check Twitter the next time I have a craving for Germany’s “National Dish” (while subsequently becoming disappointed it’s not in my neighborhood). It does run you double what it would cost you to eat at a stand in Germany, but it’s understandable considering they have rent to pay.
Perhaps it’s evidence that “hipster” has increasingly evolved into a state of mind and less of one’s unemployment or (lack of) finances. This is easy, accessible German street food that crosses all echelons and classifications – yet eaten with tiny wooden spears. You won’t find any silverware at this spot. After all, it’s not meant to be gourmet rocket science. Rather, it’s almost-finger food, customizable both in flavor and in heat, and served up with a side of fries and onions or jambalaya.
Pick your wurst, ranging from Bratwurst (pork), Bockwurst (veal and pork) and Rindswurst (beef) to Geflugelbratwurst (chicken) and more – with a couple of tofu options to boot. Each serving starts at $5.89 and comes with two slices of negligable “German farmer’s bread.” It’s OK to sop up the remainder of your ketchup-curry powderÂ sauce, but I’d highly recommend getting a side of fries with onions to share. The potatoes were fried and salted to a perfect crisp and, together with sauteed onions, were as solid as any I’ve had.
As for your currywurst, you pick the level of heat ranging from 1 – 4 (#3 comes with an Age 16+ disclaimer) and you can flavor your sauce with “Prenzlauer” (fruity), “Kreuzberg” (chipotle), “Mitte” (jambalaya) or “Alexanderplatz” (garlic) for an additional $0.89. I went with Level 3 and the chipotle flavoring, which was a nice way to kick it up a notch. I’d predict that the original sauce might be a bit sweet for my tastes. After all, I’ve always preferred mustard to ketchup. And now, I’m curious about Level 4.
We ordered the Paprikawurst (pork, paprika, garlic) and the Scharfe Kasewurst (beef, jalapeno, cheese) mistakenly in the same sauce, but it became a good canvas to determine that the latter definitely wins out in terms of flavor.
Alas, they don’t have beer, but malt beer and Izze. But I very much enjoyed their Virgil’s Cola – a bottled root beer they carry in their small counter refrigerator. It remains to be seen whether they’re looking to change that. All the same, I’m thinking that it would hurt their turnover within that small space.
Berlin Currywurst employs a simple business model that fits just perfectly into that corner space at The Junction. It’s a great place to get your fix – easy in, easy out, no nonsense. And at the center of it all is a fail-proof recipe for Germany’s favorite food. Now Silver Lake gets a piece.
Tuesday – Sunday
11:30 AM – 10 PM
Berlin Currywurst 3827 W. Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026
There’s another brunch option in town – and it’s at Malo in Silver Lake. If tequila cocktails with your eggy entree and sides sound like a choice accompaniment, this brunch will be worth your trek. For one, Malo has that spicy burnt habanero salsa that always does a solid for your pre-appetizer chip indulgence. (Because I’ll be the first to admit I’m always the one at the table who eats too many chips and has to take her meal home.)
Try ordering your Bloody Maria “extra spicy” and the bar will oblige. (I did. Twice.) In between the Bloody Marias was a Medicina Latina for that smokey kick (El Jimador Reposado, fresh ginger, agave nectar & lime w/Mezcal mist) as well as a La Paloma Fizz (made with El Jimador Reposado, fresh grapefruit juice, lime juice & grapefruit bitters) for that refreshing-but-sour morning cocktail. Or if you’re feeling the wake-up coffee more, go for the Malo Cafe, with Grand Centenario Anejo, Kahlua dark creme de cacao & coffee and topped with whipped cream. Delicioso!
Favorite dishes of mine included the Egg Tostada – with the eggs still wet, the way I like it. I even found myself appreciating one of their Vegan Breakfast Burrito, which was simple yet delicious enough, with tofu, potatoes, spinach, pinto beans, mushrooms, avocado and pico de gallo – though maybe the trick was that I dumped a whole bunch of red-orange salsa on it. 😉 The Tres Leches cake was my favorite dessert. The slice was perfectly wet but not soggyÂ and oh-so-milky. If you’re feeling like an all-around sweet breakfast, try the Mango & Banana French Toast, made with sweet bolillos, warm piloncillo and cinnamon syrup.
If you’re looking for a little twist on your typical ham & eggs brunch, Malo’s a good place to start. The tequila in your morning cocktail will spice things upÂ in many different ways – so your lazy weekend day will be sure to get kicked off to a great start.