It’s been a while since I walked along Neue Bahnhofstraße, the street in Friedrichshain leading away from Ostkreuz station.
Berlin’s got a habit of changing (maybe you’ve noticed?), and this street really seems to have had a makeover in recent years. All kinds of ‘foodie’ restaurants have popped up along the street which has brought a much-needed buzz to the area. Of the more interesting restaurant concepts along the street is Venezuelan eaterie Kärrecho.
The arepa – a much-loved Venezuelan staple
Anyone who’s spent time in South America will be familiar with the ‘arepa’. It’s a ubiquitous staple part of the Colombian and Venezuelan diets. The arepa consists of a fried dough made from ground maize which is split open and stuffed. Typical fillings include shredded meat, cheese and avocados. My well-travelled English friend says the arepa is a breakfast classic in Venezuela which can be found on most street corners. My Canary Islander colleague tells me that arepas are very popular back at home due to the large Venezuelan immigrant population there. We need this in Berlin, don’t we?
Your prayers have been answered – arepas have made it to Berlin
Carlos, Marina and Rosana – natives of Caracas, Venezuela – are the guys behind Kärrecho. For several years, they’ve been spreading the good word on Venezuelan cuisine this side of the Atlantic. Cutting their teeth in London, they’ve recently brought their winning arepa recipes to Berlin. Initially starting out in street food markets having spotted a gap in Berlin’s food scene, Kärrecho is their first proper home in Berlin.
The taste of Venezuela in Friedrichshain
We tried several arepa recipes on Kärrecho’s menu. The La Reina Pepeada, stuffed with chicken and avocado, is an extremely satisfying munch. The chicken is served cold inside the hot arepa and resembles a zesty chicken-mayo filling. You can easily imagine this being wolfed down by Venezuelans at all times of the day. The La Pelúa, featuring shredded beef and slow-cooked veg, is topped off with Gouda cheese. It’s a hot pocket of flavour and bulges with black beans and cheese. We’re told it’s a late night favourite back home – it’s easy to understand why.
Kärrecho do the arepa well. The homemade maize flatbread – refreshingly different to that of the tortilla – is surprisingly filling. I’m very tempted to have a go at making them after seeing them effortlessly cooked on a TV cookery show.
Take your arepa with a side of plantain
Kärrecho serve a number of delicious side dishes too. Plantain is hugely popular and we enjoyed fried plantain pieces drizzled with spicy sauce. Who needs chips when you’ve got these?
It’s easy to tell why the arepa is so well-loved. Filling, comforting and full of all the good stuff – this fits into Berlin’s food scene so well. The Venezuelan kebab? The South American burrito? Next time you’re famished in Friedrichshain – go Venezuelan.
Neue Bahnhofstraße 25,