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Loumi Dining Fine dining behind the shisha store

Tuesday, February 22 2022
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It is dark and wet on Sonnenallee and makes me feel very secretive, as I walk into a hallway between a shisha store and a Lebanese snack bar. A typical Neukölln backyard. I recognise a sweet smell of hookah; it is drizzling - I ring Karl-Louis' doorbell and hurry into the dry.

Not many dinner evenings start this way. The first of many welcome surprises on this evening at Loumi Dining makes me realise: These outstanding dining experiences do in fact exist. But start from the beginning: Mical and Karl-Louis greet me warmly at the front door. They are cooks and hosts in one. This evening is also very intimate in other respects.

The "Loumi Tasting Menu" currently offers one large table per evening for a total of six guests - tonight at Karl-Louis' home. You can book as an individual but also as a group. Thanks to the ticket system, you don't have to worry about anything this evening. The hosts will prepare delicious food and an appropriate alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage accompaniment. 

Karl-Louis und Mical von Loumi Dining Berlin
Loumi Dining Berlin (6)
Loumi Dining Berlin (5)
Loumi Dining Berlin (8)
Loumi Dining Berlin (1)
Loumi Dining Berlin (4)
Loumi Dining Berlin (3)
Loumi Dining Berlin

We are a mixed bunch this evening - but that doesn't dampen the mood. On the contrary: we spend an informal evening with excellent food and drinks, just as Mical and Karl-Louis imagine. We ask Mical if there are sometimes problems between the guests. That never really happens. The mood is usually quite relaxed, she reveals: "Many of our guests go to the pub together after.

We start to get to know each other over a glass of Cava or Kombucha. One after the other, a few small appetisers are quickly placed on the table. We start with an oyster with jalapeño foam and sea fennel - the complexity of this first greeting from the kitchen, the velvetiness of the foam, the aromatic refinement, and the flawless execution create an initial idea of what we are dealing with culinary-wise this evening. 

A little bit later, the beer batter crustade with tartare of crab seasoned with ginger mayonnaise and finger limes on top causes a murmur at the table. The textural interplay of crispy dough and juicy crab, plus the finely balanced acidity of the citrus fruit - wow! Just as impressed as we are by the delicious pancake made of fermented rice and crispy fried kumbu seaweed, we are also impressed that these culinary works of art are created in Karl-Loui's small home kitchen.

In general, the table becomes more upbeat; we quite like this light-hearted privacy. After all, that's how it all began. Karl-Louis and Mical are self-taught. While now both can point to quite renowned internships (Restaurant A.T. in Paris, Mãos and Ikoy in London, Votum in Hanover) in gastronomy (and you can see that in their kitchen style!), they both originally studied something completely different. Karl-Louis comes from IT, Mical from art history, both want to venture into something new professionally - lucky for us.

In the beginning, they hosted small cooking events together at home for friends, later they rented locations, the idea of a business grew, and in 2017 they founded Loumi Dining. Under normal circumstances, they hold tasting dinners every month on two weekends in various rented locations in Berlin and Hamburg, as well as catering for up to 150 people. 

In fact, every dinner is different. Although there are sometimes dishes that would be used again in the same or a similar way, Karl-Louis and Mical basically try to prepare what they like. Classic French cuisine serves as the basis, but Asian influences are also clearly recognisable, especially in the use of ferments such as homemade miso. "We just inoculated koji ourselves yesterday," Mical explains, with pride in his voice.

Nordic, French, Japanese is basically the classic kitchen triad of their cooking style, "but we don't really like to be pigeonholed, we also like to think 'outside the box, and when we get good products, we also like to try out working with them. But it's also important to us to pay attention to sustainability and animal welfare."

Since the quantities of ingredients are determined in advance, there is hardly any waste, and the tasting dinners allow them to calculate very precisely and throw away very little. Furthermore, Karl-Louis and Mical pay special attention to the quality of the ingredients, sourcing them from Markthalle Neun or Fish Klub, for example: "We are simply delighted to be able to work with such products which is very important for us," Mical explains. 

The outstanding quality of the food can be tasted without question. Given the very product-oriented cuisine, there are many vegetables on the table in summer, often wild boar or other local meat in winter, and currently the best seafood is in its high season. Accordingly, we get to taste a wide range of delicious fish and seafood dishes. The sweetness and nuttiness of the scallop are emphasised by Karl-Louis with almond milk and roasted almonds, N25 caviar adds a touch but not too much salt.

The red mullet from France is also fantastic, almost reminiscent of crustaceans. This is accompanied by an incredibly dense "Sauce Bouillabaisse" based on mussel and lobster boullion. Our highlight of the evening (although it's tough to choose given the fantastic dishes) is the pollack with koji, sea urchin-based XO sauce and pumpkin. The delicate sweetness of the fish; its ingeniously tender texture is wonderfully complemented by the clearly perceptible sea essence of the sea urchin in the XO sauce. A delicate spiciness is also elegantly woven in because "it should also taste of something, we don't act quite so puristically".

A juice based on paprika with bioscope apples and pumpkin in a beautiful orange-red colour also goes very well with this, quite surprisingly. The wine accompaniment of conventional wines and selected natural wines is equally well received. 

In the meantime, the table conversation has turned to childhood memories: The reason for this could be the Nikishi rice pudding, which is a kind of sushi rice pudding with vanilla, black coconut sugar and a citrus salad. The consistency of the Honeycomb, which is served with the Earl grey Parfait and white chocolate in various textures, also meets with great approval at our small table. The mood has long since become boisterous and cheerful.

Sonnenallee is still dark and wet, but I am inspired by thousands of new impressions on a culinary and human level. An evening at Loumi Dining is really very special - should you have the chance to get a ticket, definitely let yourself in for the experience!

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