I’ve known Kame for a long time. I first met Machiko, the operator, and Shota, one of her employees in the branch on Leibnizstrasse (see photo above), during the Japan Food Festival 2019. In July 2020 I went to see Machiko for an interview. In the middle of the corona crisis and after the lockdown which was lasting several weeks.
To stay with the topic and show what ideas there are against the crisis. Kame used the Corona relief campaign from Startnext and started a so-called “flexible project”. Depending on when you read this, you might still have the opportunity to support Kame or at least read about how the campaign went under this link.
How Kame was founded
Things are often not as straightforward as one would imagine. It was the same with Kame. The word is obviously Japanese and means turtle. A symbol of happiness and a long life.
In the beginning, the idea was to produce Japanese baked goods and make them known in Berlin. And in my opinion that was or is necessary, because hardly anyone thinks of a bakery in connection with Japan. Machiko told me that Japan opened up to baked goods 50 years ago. First through imports, but now there are numerous bakeries that bake themselves. Since Japan does not produce wheat, most of it is imported from Canada or the USA.
The first steps with Japanese baked goods in Berlin were made at the weekly market at Winterfeldtplatz and in Markthalle 9. There Machiko and her team were also advised to offer vegan variations.
In 2016, Kame first settled in Leibnizstrasse in Berlin-Charlottenburg. The capacity there would have been sufficient to supply other stores with the Japanese baked goods. The search for suitable partners turned out to be difficult. Finally, it was decided to open a second shop. This is located on Linienstraße in Berlin-Mitte.
The culinary side of Kame
You can’t imagine the Kame as a classic German bakery. Although there are certain parallels. But it is more of a café and bistro where you can get a lot of different dishes.
But let’s start with the foods that you would expect in a German bakery, namely pastries. When you stand in front of the counter, the desserts are on the left. There you will find a good selection of different cookies (Sesame, Matcha, Peanut-Rice, Mascobado-Rice and Houjicha-Rice – all the ones with rice are vegan and gluten-free). What suits Japan very well, of course, are the matcha cookies – easy to recognize by the green color. If you want to try out all varieties, I recommend the cookie set (see foto). You can also take this home with you.
The cakes are kept in a glass fridge next to the main show case. The standard selection includes three types of cheese cake. Of course there is also a Matcha variant.
But now to the hearty side of Kame. For the small appetite as snacks there are fried and baked chicken pieces, edamame and sushi rolls. As starters or small dishes there are also miso soups – normal or with chicken or beef, salads from vegan with tempeh to salmon and there is salmon sashimi in three variations.
Now their own bread comes into play again. Because a whole page of the menu is dedicated to the filled breads that are also called burger. On the savory side, you can choose, for example, chicken, salmon or tempeh and avocado as a filling. In the sweet versions you will find things like vanilla and matcha.
Between 12 and 3 p.m. there are sets of Onigirazu and Rice Bowl available for € 10 each. They both come with a miso soup. The rice bowl is served with Japanese-style cucumber, a main ingredient of your choice (salmon + avocado, beef, tempe + avocado …) and several extra toppings for an additional charge.
The Onigirazu set also consists of Japanese style cucumber, an Onigirazu with the main ingredient of your choice and other toppings for an additional charge. If you are wondering what the bottle with the red cap in the picture with the Onigirazu is. This is a soy sauce spray. Very convenient.
Outside of lunchtime, you can also order the Rice Bowl alone for € 6.50 and the Onigirazu for € 7.
As befits a café, coffee is of course available in all variations, including soy or oat milk. And of course good tea shouldn’t be missing when we talk about Japan. The green tea classic Sencha is on the menu, for example, but also ginger tea with honey. Clearly you will also find Matcha on the drinks menu as Japanese greens Matcha, Matcha Latte and Matcha Choco. What is particularly nice in summer, Matcha but also coffee is available on the rocks (see photo).
The soft drinks include water from Viva con Agua and lemonades from Fritz. Matcha is also represented here by Sparkling Matcha Grapefruit from Seicha.
But Kame also has alcoholic beverages. There is beer from Berliner Pilsner. But what is much more interesting are the alcoholic beverages from different Japanese regions. Tantakatan comes from the island of Hokkaido, Benitome made of sesame from Fukuoka etc. These are usually drunk with a meal in Japan. At Kame they are available pure and, depending on the variety, also on the rocks, with coffee, with plum, with green tea etc.
The ambience at Kame
The heart of the café on Leibnizstrasse is the long bar. Here in the showcase you will find various dishes that are ready to be eaten. Behind it on a large blackboard you will find almost everything that is on the menu.
I was pretty sure that the drawings were made by Machiko since she told me that she studied art history. But actually they are coming from Shota. These drawings can also be found on laminated special menus for the Onigirazu and the Bento Box (see picture).
The furniture is – as can be seen very often in Berlin – somehow thrown together. A specialty is definitely the Japanese table, which is located on the left behind the counter on a pedestal. If you like, you can sit on the floor like in Japan. Of course, shoes have to be removed.
If you want to sit outside, you will find a few beer table sets in front of the restaurant.
Oh yes, the dishes come from a manufacture in Poland, Machiko said. The blue is very popular in Japan. They could not find good quality Japanese ceramics that are affordable.
If you love Japan, then Kame is a must anyway. And if you like to try new things that you can’t get anywhere else, I can also highly recommend Kame. I haven’t seen much of what is offered here anywhere else in Berlin.
The service is super fast and you definitely must have tried the food. Then enjoy! And please give Machiko and Shota my best regards if you drop in on Kame!
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