Saturday, July 31, 2010
HüNERHAUS! House of Chicken!
So it all began with a bet. Jessie didn't have any change for the subway one day so she decided to ride without a ticket. Not too big of a deal but there are secret plainclothes cops who show up to check tickets. But she decided to hedge her risk with a bet, she bet me that there would be cops showing up to check our tickets since we hadn't seen any in awhile. And of course the payment would be a tasty rotisserie chicken. Why a chicken? Well...
So it all began with an argument, the kind you have when you spend 2 months straight with someone 24 hours a day 7 days a week. A silly silly argument about nothing that ends up with two perfectly normal sensible people screaming about chicken in the middle of the street.
I like roasted chickens. Jessie does too, but for some reason didn't like the idea of a rotisserie chicken in Berlin. Unfortunately there were a couple rotisserie chicken restaurant by our house I would mention "hey we should go there for dinner" pretty much every time we passed either one of them." One day this became too much for Jessie and we blew up and started screaming about chicken while walking home.
Five minutes later we were hysterically laughing just picturing what our neighbors must have been thinking, two people screaming about chicken walking down a street in Berlin. The neighborhood we lived in was predominantly Turkish and very few people spoke English so it would have been pretty unintelligible to them, but I figure 90% at least have to know the English word for chicken.
(internal monologue of Turkish neighbors) "oh dear those people are screaming loudly... Did he say Chicken? I'm pretty sure he said chicken... Why are they yelling about chicken... I must be wrong English is a hard language...
No NO she definitely said chicken too."
Anyways, we end up not being accosted by plainclothes police men and so I got my chicken!
I had my eye on a little stand that's right between Kotti(Kottbusser Tor) and Gorlitzer U-Bahn stations. We walked past this place early on when we got to Berlin and there was a huge line at this little tiny stand. Every time we rode our bikes past it after that I also saw a huge line, I knew this place had to be good.
Hünerhaus literally means house of chicken, which really I think is pretty generous. This is really barely a shed of chicken. But they did have tons of rotating, dripping, fabulously mouth-watering whole chickens. There is a succulent rainbow of browning chickens ranging from freshly skewered to dark caramelized brown. One of the true marks of a great chef is the ability to not screw up roasting a proper chicken. These were done by a master.
The skin is very crispy and crunchy. It's heavy on the salt and light on the other mysterious seasonings that make this one of the best birds I've ever eaten. Perfectly cooked, they meat was flavorful all on it's own. I don't think the chicken was brined but the flavor of the meat itself was potent. This was chicken Nirvana, one of the most perfectly cooked, obviously well bird, grown, and cooked by people who has been doing this for a LONG time. This bird was worth the lifetime of perfecting that it took to make it right. And that's why people line up day in and day out, waiting for a perfect meal. A whole rotisserie bird? 5.00 Euros, Half a bird 2.50 w/fries 3.75. Now that my friends is something special. That is why I love East Berlin.