No matter how many taxi adventures I try, I still get the same jitters as I did the first time I hopped in a cab and asked the driver to take me to his favorite restaurant. Case in point: this video footage of the lead-up, the approach, and my initial negotiations with Ergan, who’s been driving a cab in Berlin for seven years. I couldn’t mask my delight when he told me “we have many favorite restaurants in Berlin”:
Was he for real? Could the kunefe at his chosen restaurant actually top the otherworldly version at Hasir? I had to find out.
But first I learned what it takes to become a cab driver in Berlin:
By the time I walked into Gel Gör, I was just as ready to taste the kofte (sausage) as I was the kunefe. Especially after chatting with the manager and learning that they use only veal to make the sausage and butcher the meat on site.
On his advice, I tried the kofte on toasted French bread, topped with red chili sauce, sumac, tomatoes, arugula and a squeeze of lemon.
I liked the freshness of all the ingredients – and all of the spicy, sweet and sour they added to the sandwich – but I loved the kofte.
Tender and grilled to perfection, it reminded me of cevapi (as Ergan said), but it was richer than the tasty version I remembered from Cevabdzinica Sarajevo in New York. I almost didn’t want the rest of the sandwich to interfere with the sausage. I could taste the care – and the refusal to compromise – that had gone into making it. The manager wouldn’t to tell me what spices they use.
I sipped Turkish black tea while I waited for my kunefe (shredded filo, butter and honey sandwiched around soft white cheese) to cook, still trying to imagine how it could taste better than Hasir’s rendition of the dessert.
In the end, I didn’t think it was better, but it was definitely different: the cheese was sharper, the honey milder, and the shreds of filo in the crust were so fine they almost dissolved on my tongue. This last detail might be what separates good kunefe from great kunefe – it takes a special machine to make the filo so transparently thin. Because of the need for this machine, Gel Gör outsources its kunefe to a Turkish baker who lives in Bremen in northwest Germany and devotes all of his pastry-making skills to the dessert.
He might be insulted if he reads this, but I’d like to see him go head to head with whoever’s responsible for the kunefe at Hasir. I’m not sure who would come out the winner.
Gel Gör Inegöl Köfteci
Kottbusser Damm 80
Kreuzberg – 10967 Berlin
Open: 24 hours
Kofte sandwich: 5 Euros
Kunefe: 3 Euros