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Neraj Thangarajah – Food Editor
German cuisine is often overlooked, with few claiming to have ever tried it and others often expressing little interest in it. It’s a real shame that the country is represented so poorly among these shores with regards to its culinary history, even if somewhat stereotypically. Focusing our attention on London in particular, which has lately been hit with street food fever it is surprising to still see so few establishments serving up some delicious German grub.
Luckily the guys at Herman Ze German have decided to set up shop in Soho following their Villiers Street debut near Trafalgar Square a few years ago. Aside from having one of the best restaurant names in London, Herman Ze German also makes a pretty great attempt at serving German food that is as authentic as the British punter will have it.
A relatively simple menu means that it’s easy to navigate whilst understanding what you are actually ordering. There’s no table service here, so just walk up to the counter and your food is brought to the table.
The currywurst is the highlight at Herman Ze German, and is fully customizable with regards to the sausage you decide on and how spicy a sauce you want with it. My dining companion opted for a Bockwurst in mild curry sauce, along with sauerkraut, and pommes. Assuming the curry sauce would naturally be spicy my dining companion was perhaps too precautious ordering mild, a medium sauce would have been the perfect option.. The Bockwurst is one of three sausages available, along with a Bratwurst and Chilli Beef. The Bockwurst was similar to a frankfurter and was pleasant but in this situation the Bratwurst might have fared better. A great addition is the fact that the pommes are baked, not fried, and well-seasoned still ensuring a crispy outside whilst being that much healthier. Even the sausages are gluten free.
I opted for the Bratwurst in a roll, filled with sauerkraut, curry sauce and pommes. The pork and veal Bratwurst was the superior sausage and was juicy and well seasoned, the bread roll was more baguette than hot dog bun but was nonetheless excellent, providing each bite with a chewy yet crunchy roll. Although appearing rather carb heavy, the combination of wurst, sauce, pommes and sauerkraut was delicious and excellent value for money. The sour crunch of the sauerkraut, the spicy curry sauce, crispy pommes and peppery Bratwurst was a delightful combination. There are other choices on the menu such as the infamous schnitzel, which I would have liked to try but perhaps next time.
A great addition to any meal at Herman Ze German would be a choice of their German beers on offer. As London is currently going through a craft beer revolution, it was exciting to see beers that went further than safe beers found in most large chains. We tried both Paulaner Helles lager and wheat beer, which is relatively hard to come by in London. Personal choice can only determine which to opt for but the wheat beer was more complex in flavour with a sweet but hoppy finish.
When it comes down to it, we are spoilt for choice in Soho. However Herman Ze German is an excellent alternative to queuing for small, overhyped restaurants. Don’t let the limited tables upstairs fool you – Herman Ze German has an even larger basement with ample room for diners.