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Berlin Currywurst

jacqueline f Mar 27, 2011 10:44 PM

A. really wanted to try Berlin Currywurst. I sort of did, though I had doubts.

We had a day to ourselves and part of me really wanted to go to town. I was thinking Aburiya Toranoko. I have a Blackboard Eats coupon burning a hole in my pocket. But the day after a seven course tasting menu with wine pairings at Drago Centro (more later!) is not really the day to go off.

So we popped over to Silver Lake and waited in line for over thirty minutes at Intelligentsia. Do people do this on a regular basis? The coffee is swell, but waiting in line for that long sent me back to clubbing days that I would just as soon forget.

After the caffeine issue was settled, we waltzed over to Berlin Currywurst. Yes, it's true the interior of the tiny spot is lovely and modern. There is just the right balance of bare white wall, black and white photo-murals, brick, and exposed filament light bulbs. Plus, I like the hip wood and metal furniture too.

A. is, generally speaking, a big fan of sausages and hot dogs and while I enjoy them as well my love is more measured. I worry about stomachaches and often I want some vegetables too! Not just french fries.

The menu is simple. Pick a sausage -- pork, beef and pork, pork with paprika and garlic, or perhaps tofu -- and then a heat level. One through four are on offer. I'd read here and there that even the lower levels are hot, so I didn't go all the way. But understanding that I am a bit of a heat fiend, you'll know I had to start at level three.

There is some kind of choice of additional flavors. I didn't manage to get to the bottom of this. Apparently for eighty-nine cents something in the flavor of your wurst experience will be altered.

I personally did not notice a need for alterations. Really not at all. Or not with the currywurst anyway. I opted for the pure pork bratwurst. A. chose the one with paprika. We were both more than a little enthused.

Honestly, I don't think I really understood currywurst. I know Richard Blais did a variation on it during the most recent Top Chef episode, but I was so pissed that Antonia went home and that Mike Isabella was left standing that I had completely forgotten. I was actually expecting a sausage on a bun, even after I had read all the reviews on Yelp. I guess I wasn't concentrating.

Apparently currywurst is not some sort of hybrid German/Indian food. The owner made this clear. It is German food with the addition of curry that British soldiers brought to Germany. Wikipedia informs that a German housewife may be responsible for its invention. Thank goodness for Herta Heuwer!

The sausage is cooked and cut into thick slices and served in a rather addictive sauce of tomato paste and yellow curry. Vinegar and perhaps worcestershire sauce are probably lurking in there too along with some other mystery ingredients. I've read that the owners won't give away the secret recipe. Too bad! On the side is a terrific soft country-style German bread.

Two bites in and I was telling A. that I would most likely be licking the plate clean.

I was perfectly shocked by how much I was loving that lunch. The wurst itself has a satisfying snap to its skin. There are just the right amount of fatty bits within to keep the meat juicy and delicious.

And the sauce was ridiculous. I was easily imagining the development of mad cravings. It balances sweet, spicy and tangy exceptionally well. The charming owner let me sample the fourth level of heat after I told him that I thought I could hack it. It wasn't too bad, especially if you like a little eyelid sweat.

I wish they served beer! This food is made for it.

The only mild negative is the french fries. The idea of topping them with slightly-cooked onions is very good. I have no idea what the other choice of jambalaya topping is like. Next time! Unfortunately the fries themselves are not quite right. Somehow they are oily on the outside but the oil doesn't penetrate far enough inside and the middle of each fry seems a little dry. Hopefully they can sort this problem out, because that is my only complaint.

The food is cheap. It's a five-spot and change for the sausage and bread and unless you are a really big eater, you don't need anything else. Not even the fries. They're just added decadence. It's a great deal and a super addition to the neighborhood.

Our big star spotting at this tiny Silver Lake eatery was none other than snowboarder extraordinaire, Shaun White! I loved his mirrored glasses and tight black and white striped pants. Funny funny.

As I sat at Berlin Currywurst, I could easily imagine a line around the block in the not too distant future. A. was busy imagining a mightily successful franchise.

It's clear that Berlin Currywurst is going places.

posted with pics:

Berlin Currywurst
3827 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026

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  1. Ciao Bob RE: jacqueline f Mar 28, 2011 11:10 AM

    I loved my visit last Saturday night. The line was starting to snake. The paprika currywurst was wonderful. Unlike you, jaqueline f, I loved the fries as well. I went with 8 friends so we tried many variations. Most of us are real spicy eaters but thought going above heat level 2 was a mistake and only robbed the curry flavor.

    1. e
      emosbaugh RE: jacqueline f Mar 28, 2011 05:39 PM


      you are right on about the fries too.

      1. SilverlakeGirl RE: jacqueline f Mar 28, 2011 05:59 PM

        I loved it although I never knew what Currywurst was. Loved the decor and the owners. Very welcoming.

        I had the Paprika Currywurst with a level 3. It was great although I'm longing for a plain Bratwurst next time.

        As far as I'm concerned the fries were even better than the currywurst. I like that they are unpeeled and just done right. Even more outstanding is I got to have mayo with my fries {I detest ketchup] and did not even have to ask for it. Bottles of ketchup and mayonnaise are standard condiments at the counter. Aweome!

        Were I not on a special diet right now, I would have gone back about twice a week.

        Love it!

        BTW, I'm enjoying your blog and you have singlehandedly convinced me to sign up for the Mangiare In Famiglia at Mozza. And I'm inspired by your roasted scallops. Good job!

        1 Reply
        1. re: SilverlakeGirl
          jacqueline f RE: SilverlakeGirl Mar 29, 2011 01:26 PM

          SilverlakeGirl- You singlehandedly made my day! Thank you for the good words.

          I'll obviously have to give the fries another chance. Maybe they were having an off day.

        2. j
          joshekg RE: jacqueline f Mar 28, 2011 07:43 PM

          Thanks for the review. Anyone visited yet who has previously eaten a currywürst at an Imbiss in Berlin and cares to comment on the sausages?

          7 Replies
          1. re: joshekg
            ozhead RE: joshekg Mar 28, 2011 07:55 PM

            I lived in Berlin (Lichterfelde) for close to 3 years in the late 1960s, Defending Freedom 115 Miles Behind the Iron Curtain. There was a currywurst stand right outside the Andrews Barracks gate,and of course currywurst was to be had anywhere and everywhere around town. I have not yet been to Berlin Currywurst in LA, but let me just say this: "served in a rather addictive sauce of tomato paste and yellow curry. Vinegar and perhaps worcestershire sauce are probably lurking in there too along with some other mystery ingredients" does not sound like a description of the Berlin model I became familiar with. The imbiss vendor would cut the wurst, put it on a very flimsy paper plate, squeeze ketchup -- basic ketchup -- all over it, dust it with curry powder out of a shaker, put a broetchen (a little white roll) next to it, and hand it across the counter. It is by no means a fancy dish, though it IS delicious.

            Berlin Currywurst
            3827 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026

            1. re: ozhead
              Dogbite Williams RE: ozhead Mar 28, 2011 08:37 PM

              I haven't been to Berlin Currywurst, but jacqueline f's description sound tastier than ozhead's. Maybe, for once, America has improved on the original.

              Berlin Currywurst
              3827 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026

              1. re: ozhead
                joshekg RE: ozhead Mar 29, 2011 06:34 PM

                My more recent experiences in Berlin have been with a 'curry' ketchup dusted with curry powder. I actually prefer Nürnberger Bratwürstchen, but good luck finding one of those in LA (or a good brötchen).

              2. re: joshekg
                Ciao Bob RE: joshekg Mar 29, 2011 01:36 PM

                I brought a German friend who loved it. Perhaps he will offer his thoughts...Stefan?

                1. re: Ciao Bob
                  soriold RE: Ciao Bob Mar 31, 2011 12:20 AM

                  I am German, grew up in Germany, lived there for 24 years and my stomach has seen many Currywuerste. A large group of us went and sampled most of their sausages. As OZHEAD pointed out, there are different versions of a Currywurst, but most of the ones I had came with a Broetchen, a warm, white, crispy and delicious bun that is eaten together with the sausage and/or used like a sponge to ensure that the entire ketchup/curry mixture is gone at the end. I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed when I saw regular Schwarzbrot (rye bread), which, however, was delicious.

                  The three folks running the place are German, super friendly and go out of their way to make you feel at home. Both the bread and all sausages are made by a local butcher based on the owners' recipe. The menu is definitely Americanized with items such as hot sauces, for instance. In Germany, a Currywurst simply consists of a cut up pork sausage, ketchup with lots of curry and a hot bun.... THAT'S IT! I thought their sausages were fairly authentic, although not perfect. Most of us liked the paprika sausage the best (although not authentic for a Currywurst) but I would highly recommend trying it with a Bockwurst (half veal and pork), a version more common in the South of Germany.

                  The question whether or not the sauce is authentic is rather tricky, as there are so many different ways it can be prepared. In the most basic form, it only consists of ketchup and curry powder. However, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and possibly preservatives might give the sauce the taste people experience from the stands throughout Germany. I thought that their sauce very good and tasty.

                  As stated earlier by Ciao Bob, I think spice level 2 or 3 at the most are the way to eat the sausage, even though an authentic Currywurst is not spicy at all. However, do not order level 4 because the added level of Cayenne pepper simply overwhelms the flavor of the sausage, curry powder and ketchup.

                  Overall, I think the place is definitely worth a trip but I don't think it can compete with what one might experience in Germany when ordering a Currywurst.

                  Oh, and one more thing... if you order fries, eat them "rot-weiss" :) Ask the staff for an explanation, you won't regret it.

                  Guten Appetit!

                  1. re: soriold
                    Peripatetic RE: soriold Mar 31, 2011 02:08 AM

                    Vielen Dank, Stefan, this is very useful info.

                    1. re: soriold
                      LAFenris RE: soriold Jul 19, 2011 09:51 PM

                      Rot-weiss = Ketchup & Mayo... I've found that the thought of having Mayo on fries and hot dogs is a foreign idea to most Americans. However, I've gotta second Stefan's recommendation: Just try it! :)


                2. r
                  rflorshe RE: jacqueline f Apr 6, 2011 12:09 AM

                  I so wish Silverlake were closer to Long Beach, because I absolutely LOVE currywurst, and now I'll have to make a trek all the way up there! I actually have Curry Ketchup in my refrigerator right now (purchased at Alpine Village), and I've used it on turkey dogs recently. Probably not as good as homemade, but it is what I got in Germany, and it is still pretty good!

                  Alpine Village
                  , Compton, CA 90221

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: rflorshe
                    annapurna7 RE: rflorshe Apr 6, 2011 08:34 AM

                    I can never leave Alpine Village without buying a bottle of curry ketchup. I'll buy knackwurst there was well and make currywurst at home.

                    Alpine Village
                    , Compton, CA 90221

                  2. d
                    dharmathug RE: jacqueline f Apr 6, 2011 07:11 AM

                    This restaurant is ok for what it is. As Stefan says, curry wurst in Deutschland is more basic but there are certainly variations that go beyond curry on ketchup. Thankfully.

                    One minor thing to point out is that neither owner is from Berlin, the creator city of the curry wurst. I only say this because they have Berlin in the title, which makes me think they strive for "authenticity". But really, as curry wurst is all over Germany and Austria, why bother saying Berlin? It's like saying, Hamburg Hamburger.

                    Currently there are a couple of food trucks that sell a curry wurst topping on their product. Germany's Famous Bratwurst Truck has one and a brand new organic hot dog cart, Serendoggity, offers a variation, called the Vienna Dog.

                    Happy curry wursting!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: dharmathug
                      thestratbrat RE: dharmathug Apr 7, 2011 12:59 AM

                      Aww, come on...they're the nicest people ever and, authenticity aside, they serve damn good currywurst at reasonable prices. I'd take their 'wurst over some of the stuff I ate off carts in Berlin. A bun option would be nice, but thick, chewy German-style bread also works.
                      And re: the name -- I think the food-in-a-foreign-country equivalent you are looking for is, like, if someone from Connecticut or NJ moved anywhere but Italy and opened a place called "New York Pizza." It's a name people will recognize, and it's not exactly a big deal.

                      1. re: thestratbrat
                        Hershey Bomar RE: thestratbrat Jul 19, 2011 09:20 PM

                        Connecticut is waaaay better than NY pizza -- but I get your point. BUT they'd be lucky!

                    2. mrgreenbeenz RE: jacqueline f Jul 19, 2011 03:28 PM

                      Finally got around to trying this place after walking past it for months. As mentioned in previous posts the owners were cute and friendly. The currywurst was fine, the fries were fried well but WAAAY over-seasoned. It seemed criminal not to offer beer with this food. I understand it can be tough to get the proper license but c'mon- would you play a symphony without strings?

                      Am I the only one to find this place absurdly overpriced? Fries, sausage and soda ran me over $17 bucks after tip. I realize rent aint' cheap on the Junction but this was a little over the top given the limited menu/basic preparation.

                      I may come back if they get their act together on the beer front but probably not. While clearly based on the successful Wurstkuche model they lack the eye for detail and pricing that made that place such a success.

                      800 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                      1. SilverlakeGirl RE: jacqueline f Jul 19, 2011 05:30 PM

                        Just a quick side note that a second currywurst joint [another owner] is opening up soon [or maybe already has]. I think it was on Fairfax across from the Farmer's Market.

                        I think ...

                        1. Hershey Bomar RE: jacqueline f Jul 19, 2011 09:22 PM

                          It's good food, very dog friendly, and the blonde who works lunch is adorable! Check it out. Usually a parking spot in the free lot behind it.

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