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The special fusion of Korean and Spanish cuisine created by Bin Lee-Zauner and José Miranda Morillo in their Kochu Karu restaurant in Prenzlauer Berg has earned high praise, including from the Michelin restaurant guide.
Bin Lee-Zauner originally moved to Berlin from her home in South Korea to study singing at the Hanns Eisler music academy. And, of course, to master the German language so she could understand the lyrics of pieces such as Robert Schumann's 'Im wunderschönen Monat Mai.' But she was also insistent on learning to cook professionally, and, after moving to Berlin, she crossed paths with an experienced Spanish chef who helped her turn that dream into a reality. The result was the Korean-Spanish restaurant Kochu Karu in Prenzlauer Berg, opened by Bin Lee-Zauner and José Miranda Morillo in 2012.
Spanish and Korean cuisine have more in common than might be apparent at first glance. Take, for example, the small plates, known as 'tapas' in Spanish and 'banchan' in South Korea, and the wide array of appetizers. On top of that, the two traditions rely heavily on many of the same ingredients; rice, mackerel, eel and mussels are common in both countries. Bin Lee-Zauner and José Miranda Morillo use traditional ingredients from Spain and Asia as well as regional vegetables and game from Brandenburg and fish from lake Müritz in Northern Germany.
Their dishes include creations that meld both Eastern and Western flavors, such as duck with mussels served with pickled green plums and artichokes with a barberry jus or chicory in a fried buckwheat dough with citrus chutney. But for Bin Lee-Zauner and José Miranda Morillo, those colorful combinations don't extend to the dishware. Simple white plates make the meals really stand out. The Michelin Guide has twice awarded their Korean-Spanish fusion cuisine the 'Bib Gourmand,' an accolade reserved for 'good quality, good value restaurants.'
Music continues to play an important role in Bin Lee-Zauner's work, and every first Thursday of the month, Kochu Karu hosts a musical evening accompanied by a four-course menu. José Miranda Morillo and Bin Lee-Zauner specially attune the evening's repast to the musical selections. Soprano Bin Lee-Zauner still has a penchant for the German Romantic, and on these special evenings, all three cultures have a seat at the table.
Author: Claudia Wahjudi
Eberswalder Str. 35
10437 Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg