Expectations not quite met at Lao Xiang

Excited by the euphoric praise of fellow Bloggers and determined to expand my “Authentic Chinese Food in Berlin” portfolio, I ventured to Prenzlauer Berg last night to see if Lao Xiang (Wichertstraße 43 ) really does offer the best Chinese cuisine in the City.

Things did look rather promising at first. The menu is huge (http://laoxiang.de/menus/) and the pictures of all the delicacies made me drool for sure.

We ordered dumplings (煎饺), fried eggplant (家乡茄合), lamb with onions( 葱爆羊肉), sesame balls (芝麻球) and fried beans (干煸豆角)。

The dumplings came first and I was pretty happy with them. They were fried on one side but rather soft altogether, the filling (meat and chives) was moist and super juicy, a rather yummy affair altogether.

Sadly, the other dishes left much to be desired. 

The eggplants tasted mainly of oil, the minced meat inside hardly added flavour and I found the sauce rather bland, too.

The lamb looked and tasted like beef and veered on the salty side. The veggies were nice and crunchy though.

Apart from the fact that the sesame balls should have been covered in sesame, which they were not, they were rather on the oily side, too, and the filling didn’t exactly stand out taste-wise either.

As to the beans, they marked the peak of my discontent. 干煸, literally dry stir-frying, means that you use rather a lot of oil and no water to fry the vegetables until the skin starts to wrinkle slightly (炸至外皮略皱) and, in the case of beans, turns a brownish shade of yellow. This gives the dish a very unique, slightly smoky flavour.

Yesterday’s beans looked like they came straight from the freezer, which is no good for 干煸, as there will be too much moisture in them. You could tell at once they had not been fried long enough as they were perfectly green with no wrinkles whatsoever. Some were still hard inside, too.

Lao Xiang serves the vegetarian version of this dish (which traditionally has some minced meat in it). I don’t mind that at all as long as the beans have enough flavour. Yet, yesterday’s plate showed no traces of either garlic or ginger or spring onion, the only spice came from a couple of red chillies scattered across the beans.

I do admit my expectations towards Chinese food are rather high and the dishes are definitely still above average compared to most other Chinese restaurants in Germany, and maybe the cook just had a bit of a bad day yesterday, but I must say I don’t think the food at Lao Xiang is anywhere near as good and “authentic” (I do think this expression is over-extensively used) as “Dajia Le” (to be reviewed again later on this week) or “Shaniu’s House of Noodles”.

My next project will be to compile a list of Chinese restaurants in Berlin and eventually  review them all. I’d be grateful for suggestions to enlarge this list, which currently contains the following restaurants:

Dajia Le

Tianfu I, Tianfu II and Tianfuzius

Hot Spot


Shaniu’s House of Noodles

Peking Ente

Lao Shanghai

As I am based in Schoeneberg, most of the places I know are in this part of the city. Do you know of any other great Chinese eateries? Please let me know!