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By day three in Berlin I’d already had my fill of bratwurst and wiener schnitzel and was directed to a superhip sushi restaurant on the ground floor of the chic Lux 11 hotel called Shiro I Shiro. The name is Japanese for “white castle” and refers to the amazing white interiors accented with pops of bright blue and pink neo-baroque-style furniture. If Louis XIV were still alive, this is what his modern-day dining room would look like. French-trained chef Eduard Dimant recently took over the kitchen and prepares French-accented Japanese food and exquisite sushi. I also noticed some South American influences on the menu, like a section devoted to tiradito, a Peruvian-style ceviche. I tried the yellowtail tiradito (superfresh yellowtail marinated in citrus and olive oil) and had an excellent rice-paper roll filled with tuna, tobiko (flying fish roe), cucumber and tamago (egg). I always ask what the server recommends and he gushed over the miso cod. I hesitated before ordering something so obvious, but it was superb. The lightest touch of my chopstick broke off tender flakes of black cod marinated in ginger and soy. Nobu would’ve been proud.
Today, I met Wolfgang Nitschke, the fabulous general manager at the Regent Berlin, for lunch at his hotel’s two-Michelin-star restaurant, Fischers Fritz (the name stems from a German tongue twister). Chef Christian Lohse is definitely one of Berlin’s rising stars, creating stunning seafood dishes that get served on gorgeous French china in the elegant dining room. In my mind, this is Germany’s Le Bernardin. Wolfgang and I split an unusual, yet delicious, tartare of smoked eel and foie gras with pepper caramel and eggplant puree (usually only offered on the dinner menu). The wild char was amazing, roasted and served with Lombard-style cabbage and red chicory. All of the fish comes from France. The orange-leather-bound wine list is quite thorough and wide-ranging with depth in the German and French bottles. Dessert was among my favorites of the year: three tiny Persian figs lightly drizzled with honey and olive oil. I’m usually a chocolate lover but this was so interesting and flavorful that I wasn’t even tempted by Wolfgang’s decadent-looking chocolate-caramel fondant. In this economy, the meal felt indulgent and luxurious—and it was—but it reminded me what fine dining should aspire to and why I don't think it will ever die.