Berlin, Germany (Weltexpress). For a start before starters lets talk about Haya Molcho who is considered a “passionate hostess, cook, catering entrepreneur, lady of the house for the in-crowd, cookery writer, the wife of well-known mime Samy Molcho and mother of four.” Wow! We said reading this upwards in the Neni restaurant.
Haya Molcho had first envisaged her “culinary mosaic of Persian, Russian, Arabic, Moroccan, Turkish, Spanish, German and Austrian influences” in Vienna, Tugba Temel from the 25hours Hotel Bikini Berlin told us. Neni, as we gather tasting the lavish lay out on the table, taking a bit of a bite here and then a sip there, is the culinary concept of Haya Molcho – the name coming from the initials of the first names of her sons Nuriel, Elior, Nadiv, Ilian. Now would you believe it! Truly no need to point out that it all began back in 2009 with Neni am Naschmarkt in Vienna. But now, Neni is coming to Hamburg. At last, life can be beautiful there. Life is beautiful being the ever so neat motto of Neni. And beautiful we do feel up here. Next to a fashionable Bikini shopping mall in up coming City West.
Browsing through her family history, it seems that Haya had been a cook as soon as she got going out of the cradle. Her father went round and about as a dentist, made peoples teeth healthy and was paid with healthy tomatoes or such. Food there was always plenty, more than money maybe, therefore the family started to share it – with guests that came along and alike. Neni now running well as a family business made its first steps in the busy niceness of family. When her sons went from home off to university, Haya founded a catering company – initially to prepare meals for friends and nice acquaintances. Four years later, Neni opened up in Vienna, then in Berlin and now in Hamburg. We do feel sorry for you in Munich!
And even if as during our stay at Neni Berlin one does not “always eat at a big table with all the family and many friends”, you do feel as if you are dining and sharing together as a family – and that you could easily become friends with quite a number of neighbours. It keeps the conversation going the way food is presented here. As if you were at home, pots and pans are taken from the kitchen and placed straight on the table without any airs, fuss or silly graces.
The Neni Berlin looks a bit like a greenhouse on the roof. Hardly surprising, taking it that you wiz up with an express elevator to the tenth floor. Out of the cabin, eyes set on the display kitchen and round the corner only to be met by a member of the “Molcho family” who will escort you and maybe your friends to your place.
We take a seat or rather sit around a raised table, surrounded on three sides by lush fragrant green. Their needed water ripples and splashes, the jukebox plays a lively tune as we enjoy the views of the zoo through panorama windows and of the lit up metropolis.
The ambience alone would be worth a visit. On top of that there’s the lookout over Berlin and the zoo. And then above all there’s the delicious food. We recommend Balagan, meaning “sympathetic chaos”, or with Babaganoush a spread made from eggplant and sesame paste. Hamshuka and therefore humus with minced chili sauce served with fresh pita bread is a dish to go for as well. So is that specialty of the Frishman Street in Tel Aviv known as Sabich, a mishmash of baked eggplant, humus poached egg and Amba – very tasty. Delicious are the homemade falafel with fresh mint and Har Bracha tahina. Humus from chickpea puree, a little tahini, lemon juice and spices like garlic, cumin and parsley are part of the side dish. This also goes splendidly with Dry Aged Entrecôte plus tomato pips and zhug. Shucks, may one of the service team please explain what it is – or should we look it up in one of Haya’s cookery books? Anyway, the Jerusalem dish is also a tremendous treat. Grilled chicken with oriental spices, fresh herbs, humus, onions, Har Bracha tahina, bell pepper and green pepperoni: just plain marvellous. Knafeh rounds up these oriental or so delights. This is a specialty of Jerusalem’s old town and consists of kadayif dough filled with baked mozzarella and ricotta that comes with a yoghurt ice cream and minced pistachios. Mouth watering, yep!
All this and much more is served by Babette Pflügl and prepared in the kitchen by Stefan Mamerow and their teams at Neni Berlin.
And last not least, Neni Berlin has a long and very good wine list.
* * *
Neni Berlin, Budapester Straße 40, 10787 Berlin, phone: 030 120 221 200
Opening times: Monday to Friday noon to 11 pm, Saturday and Sunday 12:30 to 11 pm