The atmosphere in Monsieur Vuong's is an upbeat one. You walk into a bright room decorated in cheery oranges, pinks and reds. Trendy young Berliners sit at the minimalist wooden tables. There's lots of chatter, great music and, at the back of the restaurant, an aquarium of colourful fish.
I made a beeline for the fish and spent much of our meal enjoying their comings and goings and trying to attract their attention. (They could have kept me amused for hours!)
But all this was a mere prelude to the food. We ordered the infamous spring rolls and a bowl of wanton soup.
The wanton soup wasn't that amazing. While the wanton parcels melted in the mouth, the broth lacked that depth of flavour that makes dishes like this so comforting.
Uh oh, I thought to myself. Have I built my hopes up only to be served a mediocre meal?
These critical thoughts melted away as soon as I tasted the spring rolls. Aoife might just be right. These are certainly contenders for the BEST SPRING ROLLS IN THE WORLD EVER.
The pastry was totally different from any other I've tasted. It was super crunchy and had such a hit of umami (I know this is a vague way of describing its flavour but I can't think of any other. The pastry had a savoury depth of flavour that made it much more than a simple casing for the flavours inside.) The ingredients inside - lettuce, prawns, spring onions and herbs - were fresh, crunchy and subtly spiced.
And then there was the dipping sauce, which was sticky and intense. It set off the spring roll perfectly.
If you are ever in Berlin and you too would like to taste what might just be the best spring rolls in the world (and the entertaining fish), don't miss Monsieur Vuong's.