Because I passionately adore good African food, I had been dying to try out the African restaurant Massai on the Lychener Straße. This spot is only around the corner from the U-Bahn station Eberswalder Straße and next door to the Brazilian place Bodeguita de Medio. One day during the Christmas holidays, I was desperately looking for a restaurant to have dinner at, because my original reservation had blown up in my face. One of places I tried to crawl into in the midst of wintery snow storms was Massai – and because the staff was so sweet and friendly to me at that occassion (sadly, they had no available tables), I decided to return – one day.
That day was last weekend and I was excited. Massai looks a bit chain-restaurant-esque, but it is not part of a larger corporate construction. Where my beloved South-African restaurant Cape-Town is subtle in its looks and decoration, Massai embodies more of a mainstream typically ‚African‘ decoration suitable for the open-minded Westener. But just because it is so, does not mean one cannot enjoy the African-esque menu (a thick wooden book), the decorative giraffes and the zebra motives on your plates. It may not be classy, but I thought it was fun.
African Food at Massai
Most of the menu is what you expect. Austrich, wildebeast, zebra and their African companions hop and skip through the dishes and offers on the menu. But apart from the more special meats Massai also does chicken, beef and more traditional meats for those visitors that wish not to gnaw on a bit of zebra. Massai also has a relatively large offer of vegetarian meals, with rice tofu, home-made sauces and fresh vegetables. But because I enjoy a wildebeast steak, I had to order the gnu (aka: wildebeast) at Massai. But before one receives any of the orders placed, there comes a cute vegetable creation called the ‚greeting from the kitchen‘ to perk up your table.
After which I received a small soup, which was included in my wildebeast steak. The soup was based on maniok roots and a variety of vegetables and tasted very interesting. It was not the most flavoursome soup ever, and due to the texture, the experience was very curious. Obviously, I am not too used to African cuisine. After the soup and the nibbles, I impatiently awaited my steak. Before, I have eaten gnu at the South-African restaurant Cape-Town, not too far away from Massai. Gnu is one of the most soft, rich and juicy meats one can ever eat. If you know how wildebeasts look, they are not the prettiest of creatures. Apparently their virtue is their flesh – due to the long runs and lean bodies, these animals taste absolutely mind-blowing. Where austrich can sometimes be a bit too rubbery, wildebeast is soft, smooth and full-flavoured.
My wildebeast at Massai was nice. Two decent slices, nicely grilled. But I have to admit it was not as good as the wildebeast I have had before. Maybe it was just an off-day for this specific animal. It was still yummy, just not as yummy as I was used to. And one other thing need to be said. Most main dishes were accompanied by almost the exact same side dishes and the same sauce. Not really very proper for a good restaurant – as obviously a piece of austrich tasted better combined with different vegetables and ought not be drowning in a generic sauce.
What Makes this Restaurant Fabulous?
- Cool and funky atmosphere and decoration.
- Great and super friendly stuff. Authentic „African-looking“ staff as well.
- Interesting and original authentic food.
What Makes this Restaurant less Fabulous?
- Due to its chain-like atmosphere and the generalisation of dishes and foods, sometimes it does come across as a chain restaurant. Better would be specific standard dishes that did not receive the same vegetables on the side.
- Not the cheapest either, but logically so. You eat gnu for around twenty euros, but they also do budget meats for around ten euros.
Where to Go?
[googleMap name=“Massai“ width=“400″ height=“400″ mousewheel=“false“ typecontrol=“false“ directions_to=“false“]Lychener Straße 12 10437 Berlin[/googleMap]
Lychener Straße 12
+49 30 48625595