Thursday, August 09, 2018

Mai Garten - The Hole in the Wall I (Stupidly) Never Gave A Second Glance

I've mentioned we moved. We now live right on the border of Au and Untergiesing. So we're a little further south on the Isar than before. When we lived at our old place on Zeppelinstrasse, I must have passed by the unremarkable Mai Garten Chinese Imbiss on Ohlmüllerstrasse at least a thousand times.

It NEVER occurred to me to eat there. I'm kind of iffy on Chinese food (not a fan of gooey sauces on overcooked meat and/or vegetables) and that place looked especially bad. The dated, faded stock photo on the window, the cheap sign, it always seemed closed; everything about it said: 'Don't eat here'.

My (limited) experience of Chinese food in Munich had so far been dissatisfying. I refer to what a Taiwanese former colleague who also lived in Munich once said to me: "Never eat Chinese food in a city with no Chinatown." Words to live by.

However! When in the span of a week Mai Garten was mentioned to me twice - in positive terms - once from a friend whose taste I admire and once from this Instagram post, referencing a review of the joint in the Süddeutsche Zeitung no less, I had to investigate. 

So on a rainy summer evening, we ordered: M18 Schweinebauch fleisch zweimal gebraten (twice fried pork belly), M14 Mapu Tofu mit Gehackte Hühnerbrustfilest (tofu with chopped chicken breast), M4 Kartoffelstreiien mit Chili süß-sauer scharf (sweet-sour and spicy julienned potatoes with chilies) along with Sutiertere Pok Choi (suateed bok choi) which isn't on the numbered menu.

It was good, but it didn't blow my mind. The only time that has happened with Chinese food was when I had Dim Sum at Maxim's Palace in Hong Kong, so my bar is kind of high. Plus what I said earlier about my relationship with Chinese food.

But I will go back, happily!

My two favorites were the bok choi and the potatoes. The bok choi was fresh and perfectly cooked and the potatoes were really tasty and interesting. The pork belly was good too, fresh and tangy and didn't taste like someone just dumped 5 spice powder all over it and threw it in a wok.

My least favorite dish was proably the Mapu Tofu with chicken. I liked the flavor, but the sauce was gooey. But this is my issue, so you might like it.

The place was hopping when I picked up our food. Lots of asian people (always a good sign). The young man that took my order switched to perfect English when he detected my accent. 

It seems like a multi-generation family operation. It also seems like they're running a little gold mine. They've probably (smartly) focused on just making good food, not worrying about extras like hip decor, and have just kept on keeping on.

Don't fix it if it ain't broke!

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Rosengarten Creek

I'm going to dispense with the big mea culpa about not blogging for so long. We got a dog and had a baby (expect lots more about both of these things in subsequent posts). So yeah, hobby blogging kind of went out the window.

Having a kid and a dog has revealed so many new aspects of the city that I was completely unaware of in my decade plus of living here. It being summer right now, swimming holes and freibäder - especially ones that cater to kids are one of my current passions.

Case in point: the little creek in the Rosengarten. I suppose I noticed all the little kids splashing about there in my old life, but it never really registered. I was probably too busy hustling on over to Halle Zwei (which of course is no longer in Untergeising, but in Pasing).

It's just a little south of the Shyrenbad - which I also like, but it can get a little too rough and tumble for my taste for smaller kids in the planchbecken there.

This little creek is a total (kiddie) scene in the summer and a popular destination for outdoor birthday parties. The stream is great for wading in. Metal chairs scattered around in the water are good for little hands to steady themselves on, and for bigger bottoms to sit on in the shade.

The 'banks' of the creeks are a little treacherous - that would be my only complaint. The side that is shady in the afternoon is small, dusty and on an incline with large rectangular rock/bench type things. Fine for kids around 3+ but a little difficult for toddlers to navigate, especially when they're naked or half naked.

But overall this is a nice (and free!) place to cool off on a warm summer afternoon. It's not quite as wild as a freibad but it does get packed starting at around 3 p.m.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Monthly Instagram #4 - English Garden Stroll

Late afternoon sun in the English Garden, captured by k8astar.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

City Life

A couple of weeks ago my husband was under the weather. In order to justify our Sunday Netflix binge, and enjoy some of the last sunny Autumn days October has to offer, we took a little walk down the Isar.

It doesn't take a lot of effort, we just walk out of our front door and there we are. We moseyed Southwards a bit, passing the old homies playing giant chess, and the Anti-Fa kids hanging around at the beginning of the stone steps built on the edge of the river.

We found a nice spot at the base of the Wittelsbacherbrücke to sit and soak up some rays. We watched dogs run around and play, a guy practicing fire dancing (without the fire - just with the stick thingys), couples in tracht sitting on the edge of the river eating take out.

All of this is precious to me.

Sometimes I wish we had a bigger apartment, sometimes I get annoyed when they decide to construction work anywhere around us, but I would be miserable if I couldn't live in the middle of the city. I'm a bit of a homebody, so being able to step outside of my door and feel that I'm in the middle of everything is everything.

A friend of mine, who lives with her two kids and husband near Röcklplatz once said 'I'd rather live small in the city, than big in the country our suburbs'. I couldn't agree more.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

I Didn't Go To Octoberfest This Year

I confess, I skipped the Wiesn this year. Partly because I just wasn't feeling it, and partly because I'm on a kind of detox where I consume no gluten, dairy, alcohol or caffeine (and pretty much lose my will to live). It goes without saying that Oktoberfest ohne Bier geht einfach nicht.

When we were in California this summer, we went to the Gravenstein Festival. A local annual fair celebrating the apple harvest. It's full of music, fattening and delicious food, activities for kids and crafts. I asked my parents, who have lived in their town for 20 years, if they like to go. "We went for the first few years when we moved up here, but after you go a few times, you get the idea" was my Dad's response.

That's a little how I feel about Octoberfest right now. I highly doubt that my Wiesn days are over, I just felt like skipping it this time around.

What I will never stop loving, however, is all the people walking around the city dressed in tracht, as if it was the most normal thing in the worldIt's so convivial and festive, and totally unique to this town.  That was enough for me this year.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Refugees Welcome

I'm sure you've heard or been following the news about the recent refugee influx to Germany.

We wanted to see it for ourselves so a couple of weekends ago we volunteered one evening at Hauptbahnhof.

Being at the train station as train load after train load of people arrived really reminded me how different experiencing something is rather than reading about it in the news.

All the trains coming from Salzburg or Budapest (or wherever) were arriving in the part of the train station where you usually catch the BOB. As people got off they were guided to a large room (I forget what it's called, it's the now defunct ticketing area) where they waited to get checked out or cared for in one of the medical tents. After that, they were then put on a bus and sent to one of the, well, camps where they'd stay until they were sent to another part of Germany (read about that process here).

We were assigned to the food station. As people disembarked (you could tell when a train arrived by all the applause) they passed by a clothing station where they could sift through donated clothes and shoes, and then on to our food station where we passed out sandwiches, fruit, cookies, hygiene supplies, coffee, tea, etc.

The effort was full of heart but a little chaotic. This tsunami of volunteering emerged completely spontaneously and as time goes on I think it's getting a bit more coordinated. I'm too old and cranky to deal with that kind of disorganization (I was muttering something along the lines of 'damn hippies' by the end of our shift). So my plan is to wait to do more volunteering when the initial wave of euphoria passes, but there is still a shit ton more to do (with some established processes), and then help out.

An example: Donations were not coordinated, people were just coming to the train station and dropping off any and everything. Someone brought us a raw ear of corn and a kohlrabi (?!?!?). Four very small coffee canisters had been set up to provide coffee and tea as, literally, THOUSANDS of people disembarked (I think the weekend we volunteered around 12,000 people came in). It was nuts and we were constantly running out. Someone needed to put a phone call into Starbucks and ask them to donate those giant vats of coffee and tea (as well as offer them a great marketing opportunity to Germanys newest residents!)

All that aside, it's been nothing short of amazing to see Germany and everyday people really rise to the occasion, and it felt good to be a part of that.

Mr. Wahlmünchnerin has continued to be involved. He was horrified and embarrassed by reports of Neo-Nazi arson attacks on newly built refugee shelters. I feel many Germans, aware of their nations dark past, have an irresistible urge to counter it any way they can when the opportunity arises. In fact, he's volunteering today and has joined the Facebook group Nerds 4 Refugees who has built a website to coordinate donation and volunteering needs in real time.

Stay tuned!