Walking the blurry line between restaurant and bar, Es Gibt Reis is made for long nights. Long nights that begin with food that makes your nipples perk, and ends with crazy good cocktails.
They’re not just walking this line of bar and restaurant, yet rather the bald, bold-rimmed spectacled David, the tattooed beauty Bettina, and the assistant cook (sorry, we didn’t catch their name) are moonwalking the line. And you can tell the cook and the barman spend plenty of time together (that may have something to do with the main cook being the main barman, David himself), as the kick-ass quality is spread across kitchen and bar alike, alongwith the South East Asian influence.
David, the main act behind the outfit, is a trained barman with a curiosity for the kitchen, which he’s had since he was young.
“The food and the drinks are equal here in the importance of quality,” David explains. He’s not bluffing.
“While my background is in bar, I’ve loved cooking ever since I was a kid, and I’m fascinated with Asia.”
Having traveled through South East Asia, David’s recreating it in his kitchen in an authentic way. After tasting the favourite dish on the menu, the Phat Kaphrao – a Thai concoction of spicy ground beef, Thai basil and beans, with an egg plopped on top – we tell him that it trumps the serving I had of the same dish in Thailand. The spice and seasoning balancing act of South East Asian cooking is practiced well here.
We order three of the deliciously odd mix of dishes on the menu, including pork neck, fermented pork and Combodian. The price has increased since its opening two years ago, but so have the portion sizes. While the fermented tea leaf salad (somewhat the signature dish at Es Gibt Reis), and the grilled pork belly look intriguing, while we suggest not letting your eyes skip over the spicy cucumber salad in the menu. Meanwhile, the Burmese curry will live a very brief life on your plate.
Even peeking in from the sidewalk outside, you can tell graphic designers have had their way with the Es Gibt Reis’ interior.
The silky-suede bench sofa that wraps around the diners and drinkers are remnants of the coffeehouse from the place’s former life. Bulbous light bulbs spiderweb out from the ceiling, frames filled with neat graphic design and an abstract centre piece painting play as small details amongst the charcoal, and blue colour scheme. Like we said, it’s made for long nights. It all works. Including the light blue glow that fills the street like an unemployment office’s toilet.
The cocktail menu is a mix of classic and original creations. Like the inventive Schüttel dein Haar (translation: shake your hair) of Thai whiskey, tamarind, grape juice, lime juice and a stick of lemon grass poking out (which I mistook for a straw) – sour, sweet, and as neat as a well-done tie knot.
Now, this should be the line where the writer neatly rounds off the article with a sentence that makes people exclaim, ‘oooooh, that’s smooth,’ as if they were running their hands along a newly sanded bum of a wooden nude sculpture. But I won’t, as everything at Es Gibt Reis is so rounded, that anymore rounding would be overkill.