A few days ago I visited the Levantine Eatery SIMSIM and immediately felt like home because of their warm welcome, the nice interior and its delicious Levantine food which reminded me of warm summer days at the Mediterranean Sea.
SIMSIM is located in East Berlin in the district Prenzlauer Berg in a nice neighborhood called Kollwitzplatz. When you enter the restaurant you already feel the mediterranean atmosphere: oriental lamps, beautiful tiles, antique details combined with modern interior and photographs from the past which tell a story about their culture. There is a big board which says: ‘Our guest; if you visit us, you will find that we are the guest and you are the lord in the house.’ This is what I love about mediterranean cultures — the guest feels honored to be in the house of the owner. My friends always used to ask me: ‘Why do you like to share and give so much?’ My answer has always been: ‘I grew up like that. My home is your home.’ This is exactly how you feel at SIMSIM too.
The owner Marwan invited me to his almost newly-opened restaurant which is serving sophisticated homemade food from the Levant — mostly featuring his upbringing from the Palestine with Syrian and Lebanese influence.
My sister was the perfect company for this visit. She already told me a lot about the restaurant on our way and said: Do you know that SIMSIM means sesame? Since our childhood she loved to eat sesame and she cooks with sesame regularly. Back then I didn’t appreciate it much, but from time to time I realized what a great plant it is and how you can combine it with food.
This brings us to the menu: It has a solid array of Mezze, main courses and desserts and we ordered a large number of items and guess what? We didn’t regret that we ate way too much. What I love most about Mezze is that you lose track of time — you talk and eat and talk and eat more until you realize there is no room anymore, but there was still room for dessert of course!
The appetizers called Mezze are both, cold and warm. You can order soups and salads, meat or Vegetarian Mezze and of course: homemade Pita bread. I was really impressed how many variations they’ve got and my eyes were widely open filled with two big red hearts! It’s very vegan and vegeterian friendly too.
What I really liked was the arnabeet mekle — it’s fried cauliflower fine seasoned with cumin and lemon. Although I do have a small intolerance when it comes to cauliflower and chickpeas it was so worth it to order both! Sometimes you have to make compromises.
Batata harra — potato cubes seasoned with garlic, cilantro and chili
Hindbeh — sautéed dandelion greens with caramelized onions
Fattoush — is the official Lebanese peasant salad, and usually you can throw whatever spring/summer harvest you have into the bowl to build up this beauty. For this reason, you may find “typical” ingredients for Fattoush, however the list of veggies can vary quite a lot.
The entrées are from the grill. The options include: sea bass, grilled shrimps, hurraq usbao (a plate with lentils & pasta, tamarind paste and pomegranate treacle), chicken shish taouk, lamb kofta, shokaf lahmeh, lamb chops, fatteh hammous or kebab (pita bread with cooked yoghurt, garlic vegetarian with hummus or with meat).
We tried the classic Kofta — it’s was too good. Make sure you save room for a dessert like knafeh. This is one of the most popular desserts from the Middle East and that’s why it has so many names: knafeh, kunafeh, konafa, künefe. The Levant is mostly known for their cheesy knafeh, crunchy shredded filo pastry filled with a mild cheese and once cooked, it is drenched in the sweetest sugar syrup. We were already quite full and as I’m already used to it because of my culture the attitude is: There is always room for more even you don’t think there is.
To drink there is an interesting wine list that is mediterranean and in particular features some lovely reads from their origin. I am a huge wine lover and that’s why I had to taste that too of course. But there is also Lebanese beer, which I tasted. I didn’t know there was such a thing like Lebanese beer and I had one sip and another and it tasted really good.
Not only the food and the place was on point but the service and the hospitably too! Visit their website to see the whole menu and to reserve a table.