We woke up to some German Toast with toppings specially selected by Flo. He introduced me to Frühlingsquark and Kräuter Fleischsalat as spreads.
I love love LOVED the frühlingsquark aka herbed quark with fresh cherry tomatoes and a touch of salt and pepper. It wasn’t as heavy as cream cheese and not as tart as yoghurt. Almost like an in between. Definitely going to hit the German Supermarket to look for this because it’s so damn good! They need to ship it into our local supermarkets!!
The Kräuter Fleischsalat translates to Herb Meat Salad. It’s almost like a coleslaw with gherkins and strips of meat instead of cabbage. I didn’t like this one too much because it felt heavy on the palate and too creamy for me. Flo loves this though.
After breakfast, it was a bus ride into Hamburg city. I enjoyed sitting by the window and looking out at every day life in Hamburg – bakeries littering nearly every street, people enjoying their coffees, Asian takeaways and little shops selling knick-knacks. It didn’t feel as busy or as crowded as Singapore.
Before we began our walk about town, we stopped to get a cup of coffee and a bagel with mozzarella, pesto, sundried tomatoes and fresh tomatoes. Apparently breakfast at home was a little too light for Flo. I had a few bites and seriously, it’s like you can walk into any bakery in Germany and not be let down because all of them have high standards on their breads.
People say that France makes the best breads but I think… we’ve got it all wrong. It’s the Germans that have fine-tuned and mastered the art of bread-making, churning out breads that are not only rich in flavour, but rich in nutrients. Think rye, pumpernickel, multi-seeded and multi-grained breads…
This is the Hamburg Rathaus. Doesn’t sounds pleasant in English but it’s actually their Town Hall. Or City Hall as some of you might know it. In front of it is this large piazza where people can mill around.
We continued on with Flo showing me the more CBD areas, and the more upper class High Street where the wealthy flock to for shopping.
Then he brought me to this awesome Gummy Shop! It’s called Bären-Treff and is located at Mönckebergstr. 19. When I walked into the shop, I was like, OK, so it’s just a gummy bear shop. We can get gummies anywhere. But then, Flo started showing me all the different flavours they had – Spicy Chilli gummies, Tropical Fruit gummies, Summer Berries gummies, Ginger ones, Alcoholic ones, Sour Cherry Coke, Coffee… They even gave out free samples to try and they were lovely, gummy and not too chewy. They even had ones without gelatine for vegetarians.
I bought a pack of Ginger ones and a packet of Exotic ones that included grapefruit, mango, guava, kiwi, papaya and passionfruit for my gummy-lovin’ mama.
Then we were off again..
This time, to Mö-Grill not too far away from the gummy bear shop.
Now we all know that Currywurst is a must-have on your German To-Eat list. And apparently, Mö-Grill does it best.
Interestingly, they have two kiosks located directly opposite each other on Mönckebergstr. 11. According to the local,my boyfriend, they are both as good as each other so it doesn’t matter which one you order and eat from.
We ordered a portion of the famed Currywurst that came with a small brötchen, perfect for mopping up any leftover sauce.
The sausage itself was infused with some curry powder, and I loved how the casing was grilled to develop a tantalising crust that gave way to the juicy, meaty filling. The crust provided a textural contrast to the overall dish and the curry ketchup with more curry powder dusted over the top gave it a little sweetness to the otherwise savoury food.
Please ignore my hair eating the crumbs on the table.
I enjoyed the currywurst, standing by the side of the street, leaning against their high tables, and digging into the sliced sausages with a small wooden fork under the warm sun like a bawse.
Food in our tums, we made off towards St. Michael’s Church.
This is perhaps one of Hamburg’s most iconic landmarks. There are lots of gorgeous churches around Hamburg but I believe St. Michael’s might be the most renown especially with its steeple towering high above most of Hamburg’s buildings.
We entered into its sanctuary that was decorated in white and gold. It was quite magnificent and awe-inducing, even more so with its extravagant pulpit. The interior looked quite modern and bore a striking contrast to the church’s outer facade that looked more weathered and aged.
Flo and I made it all the way up the bell tower to the tower platform by foot. For a church standing at 132m, it was no mean feat. We burst through the final door to find a panoramic view of the city and its harbour laid out before us.
Pictures don’t do the reality of Hamburg justice.
We spent some time admiring the view all around before we decided to carry on towards Landungsbrücken. And no, we didn’t walk down. After our hard work climbing up the stairs, we decided to treat ourselves to the lift which took all of 20 seconds to take us back to ground level!
We treated ourselves to some Fritz-kola that’s Flo’s favourite drink. It’s a little like Coca-cola but not.
Then one station by train to get to Langdungsbrücken which is basically the docklands.
And it was here that we ordered the Fischbrötchen. And Oh. My. Goodness.
Come to Hamburg and miss out on their fischbrötchen.
We ordered the Krabbenbrötchen and the Bismarck Herring Brötchen. And let me tell you: If I could have these every day for the rest of my life, I’d die very happy. #truestory
The Krabbenbrötchen is a light, crusty, fluffy roll spread thinly with remoulade and packed tight with small, hand-peeled brown shrimp. This was sweet and briney. Perfect with that little bit of creaminess from the spread.
I thought that this would be my favourite but then I bit into the Bismarck Herring Brötchen and I was blown away. I have never been so stunned at tasting incredible food until… this!
All it was was a slab of pickled herring, raw onions and brötchen, and it was perfection in my mouth. The salty tartness of the herring against the spicy, sweet, slightly bitter raw onions and the light crunch from the roll. I was in heaven.
I often try to fend off carbs like my life depends on it, but I would eat this any day. Every day. Even at the risk of my breath smelling of onions and my BO smelling of fish indefinitely. While I enjoyed a whole lot of other foods and fischbrötchens the rest of my stay in Hamburg, nothing else came close to stealing my heart away from the bismarck herring.
After an immensely satisfying meal? snack? We decided to walk over to St. Pauli even though the skies were threatening to pour. St. Pauli is known to be more active at night and it was quite obvious just walking through it in daylight that it’s a little bit of a rough area.
The above, my dear friends, is where women are not allowed to enter. And men under the age of 18. I asked Flo, as well as a few other of his German friends what happened if a woman happened to wander in accidentally. They laughed and joked that she might never get out.
But on our last day in Hamburg, Flo’s Mum told us that in her rebel days, she went in on a dare. Basically, it’s a street with women on ‘display’ – some naked, some in sexy lingerie… And then some dude told her she had to leave so she left. That was it.
Flo then showed me Reeperbahn which had sex shops every few steps we took. Some looked quite raunchy and crass but we actually found one that actually looked quite classy. We decided to have a poke around and while some of their gadgets were a little out there, there were some cute, naughty items – mainly edible sweets in cheeky shapes. Did we get anything from the shop? Hmm.. My lips are sealed.
From the entertainment district of Hamburg, we bus-ed towards Elbstrand. It was quite a walk to get to the sand beach, almost like finding a hidden gem. We passed by numerous beautiful beach front homes before finally seeing soft, dusty sand.
And then we took a chill pill. Facing the beach were the docks. And I could appreciate how Hamburg has managed to integrate their at docks seamlessly into city life, unlike Singapore where the docklands are kind of located at the far ends of the island, almost out of sight.
There was a little beach bar called StrandPerle where we planted our bums on and watched bare-bodied kiddies roll in the sand. Which is another observation I picked up from in Europe. European children are happy to frolic in the sand and get grit up their bums while their parents watch on, allowing them to run free as long as they are within their view whereas Asian parents tend to prefer their kids to keep their clothes/swimwear on, while fussing over them, trying to keep sand out of their shoes and trying to make them sit still to build sandcastles.
We spent a good couple hours by the beach before walking further down to catch a ferry back to the main city. There, we trained and walked over to our dinner venue, Ono by Steffen Henssler. We were about an hour early but managed to while away half of that time at a nearby cafe. Then, we went to Ono where they readily obliged to giving us a table while we waited another half hour of Jens and Leslie to arrive.
We decided to go Asian and dine communally. So we ordered two appetisers, two rolls (since Ono is known for their fusion-Japanese rolls), nigiri, and the sashimi platter.
We started with a Sea Bass Ceviche with Avocado Cream and some kind of shiitake mushrooms stock if I remember correctly. This was quite off-balance and too sweet to begin with. Not something I’d order again.
The second appetiser though…
Fared so much better! Beef Tataki with Truffle, Edamame and these delightful crisps on the side. The beef was cooked just so, such that it remained tender and the truffle was strong enough yet managed not to overpower the overall dish.
It took a good hour before the rest of our food came which didn’t quite impress us. Also, they forgot my green tea and we had to remind them which is a big no-no for an establishment so highly rated as this one.
The sashimi was fresh – Tuna, Salmon and Sea Bass. Nothing impressive. Nothing bad. Just good, clean fish on the rocks.
The Unagi Nigiri as well was decently executed.
While the Special Rolls we ordered were a hit and miss.
The Italian-style Tuna Roll was a little meh. It was topped with capers and sun-dried tomatoes to give a sweet and salty finish that overwhelmed the tuna. Again, it wasn’t as good as it sounded on paper.
The Surf & Turf Roll however, had us nodding our heads in approval. Snow crab, avocado and cucumber covered in sushi rice, with a slice of beef on top and truffle ponzu foam butter to finish. This was a standout and possibly our favourite item for dinner, with the beef tataki a close second.
Flo was still a bit peckish after the food so we went ahead and ordered dessert. Jens and Leslie had the ‘Magnum’ Ice-Cream while we shared the Chocolate Mousse/Sweet Potato /Parsley. Let’s just say that while the mousse was well-executed, light and airy, somehow, it just didn’t go with the sweet potato puree and parsley gel. The crumbs were good though.. Just because you really can’t go far wrong with crumbles.
We were quite disappointed overall by the food and service, especially the service. If service was on point, I think we could have forgiven the sub-par food. Perhaps we set our expectations a bit too high. I think Flo and I have been spoilt by the Japanese restaurants here in Singapore where prices are far more affordable and the quality is generally above average, which is why we felt that Ono was punching too high above their belt in terms of pricing vs standard of food.
Still, we had an enjoyable evening with Jens and Leslie – I think that that was the most important part! It was an amazing day out in Hamburg for me and only writing this post do I realise now just how much we managed to pack into the day. I loved seeing all the sights, especially the areas that Flo used to work at, the food places he used to visit during lunch hours, and Hamburg University where he did his degree in, as well as the auditorium he sat in for his final exam. I could almost picture him going about his day during his years in Hamburg. And that, really, made the day that extra bit more special!