That soup tasted funny

The one thing people need to know about me is, that from time to time I am surprisingly spontaneous. So the other day I was on a bus and was passing by this one restaurant called Thai Kitchen. No, this post is not about this restaurant. Hm, you see. Very spontaneous.

The taste of this soup was rather unexpected

The taste of this soup was rather unexpected

Anyhow. I jumped off the bus and walked back only to find out that the restaurant was closed due to vacation reasons. Damn. Now, I had to find another place to get my lunch. Luckily I was close to Naschmarkt around U4 Kettenbrückengasse. And yes, this is some sort of a China Town or better Asian Town. In this area of Vienna there are many rather authentic Asian restaurants, shops, haircutters etc. So I thought: no problem, I find something else. And so I walked towards Naschmarkt.

Eventually I ended up at Pho Saigon on Naschmarkt. Now this restaurant is connected to the restaurant called “Saigon” on Getreidemarkt und is more or less the mini version of that one. It also has a small Asian grocery store. During lunch time you get special meal offers and they are all Vietnamese food. Each lunch special consists of the daily soup, main course and dessert. In the beginning I was unsure what to take. I always think that Vietnamese dishes sound completely unspectacular. It is like “beef with basil and lemongrass”. Doesn’t sound fancy, or? But when you order it it is soo delicious! For me I chose the tofu with veggies. I had to take Vietnamese rolls in addition to the soup. I love Vietnamese rolls – no matter which one.

I love Vietnamese rolls - any whether they are cold or warm.

I love Vietnamese rolls. Any kind whether they are cold or warm – it doesn’t matter.

But first came the soup – the unexpected star of the whole meal. In the end I came to the conclusion that it was the Vietnamese variation of a sweet n’ sour soup. It had chunks of pineapples, it tasted chili spicy and sweet and unexpected. I have to admit I never tasted something like that before and I have tried a lot in my life. It had really nothing to do with anything I ever tried. It didn’t even come close. I have to say although I liked it I would not order a soup like that on purpose.

The Vietnamese rolls pretty much came with the main course. They were filled with seafood and covered in fried rice noodles. I always love the dip that comes with them. Fish sauce here we come. I really don’t mind that entree and main course sometimes come at the same time at Asian restaurants. I just eat cross-course.

The tofu with veggies was just as good as the other two courses.

The tofu with veggies was just as good as the other two courses.

And of course, I also enjoyed the main course. I think they put oyster sauce. It was really yummy. I really like that restaurant. Right at the spot where this restaurant is located you also have a number of other Asian restaurants. One is right on the opposite. It has Japanese, Chinese, Thai food. But don’t fall for that when you are at Naschmarkt. It is always much better not to choose the trans-Asian restaurants that offer all cuisines at once. They all have the same food and the taste is like an instant-food-jolly – all but not exciting.

Info: Phò Sài Gòn, Naschmarkt, Stand 191 – 194, phone: 01 585 02 24, internet: www.saigon.at, opening hours: Mo – Sa 11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. in summer and winter 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., they take credit cards, I am not sure about smoking but I guess it is non-smoking, you can reach the restaurant by getting off at U4 Kettenbrückengasse and walking towards the city centre on Naschmarkt, take the aisle of stands that is the furtherst left one and there the restaurant is on the right side.

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Christmas in Vienna

Vienna is a wonderful place to spend Christmas time. Already starting with the beginning of Mid November Vienna offers a number of Christmas markets. These markets are spread all over Vienna. The most famous market is certainly the one on Rathaus Platz in front of the City Hall. This certainly the most commercial one. Others sell certainly more handcrafted artwork.

belvedere

 

Some of the Christmas markets are situated in front of famous sights like the Belevedere or Schönbrunn Palace. Some of the treats that visitors can experience are mulled wine, hot punch and toffee apples. Hot punch comes in many different flavors – from orange to apple with ginger, apricot, pure ginger, even chocolate and additional amaretto.

Gluehwein

 

And as Christmas is usually spent with family New Year’s Eve means fun with friends. The most well known attraction in Vienna on New Year’s Eve is the Silvester Pfad (New Year’s Eve Path) where the City of Vienna organizes different spots in the city with stages and live performances. The highlights of the Silvester Pfad are Stephansplatz, Rathausplatz and probably Am Hof.

silvester

 

All these events make Vienna a popular travel destination for Holiday Season. Thus, you can rely on Get Locally to discover the best spots in the city during that Season and after, in January when Vienna seems to go to winter sleep.

 

Petting the Goldfish

It was former part of the German air defense – today it is a zoo for aquatic and terrestrian animals. In German it is called “Haus des Meeres” – house of the sea and it is really close to Mariahilfer Strasse – Vienna’s most prominent shopping street. For me it is one of my favorite places to go when I feel like going to some sort of zoo. And it is just the perfect place when you’d like to do something in Vienna with kids and they sure have adapted to this here. When you enter the gates the first thing you see are the koi and if you have patience enough you can even touch them.

In the entrance area you find an aquarium where kids can pet kois.

After you managed to get away from the kois the next thing you need to do is go up with the elevator to the panorama platform. Thus it is better here that you go from top to bottom. This place has approximately 10 floors and going up might get challenging.

As soon as you enter the Haus des Meeres take the elevator to the top

Plus this place offers one of the best views over the city.

Go up to the top of the Haus des Meeres – it offers a terrace with a fanatastic view.

After you took enough photos of the panorama you make your way downstairs. Each floor displays different animals from different climate zones. They are all aquatic animals or animals like snakes and turtles and so on.

They have some awesome snakes at the Haus des Meeres

One of the highlights is certainly the big sea turtle and it swims in an aquarium which stretches over two floors. The story goes that it once belonged to some private person and it grew to be too big and ended up at the Haus des Meeres. For me it is just to cute and so enormous.

Check out the huge sea turtle – it is just too cute!

But the sea turtle is not the highlight of cuteness yet. There are of course the beautiful jellyfish where you are glad that you don’t get to know them on some vacation while swimming in the sea.

They are beautiful but just dangerous

But now for my favorites at the Haus des Meeres which has really nothing to do with the sea or anything. Cause next to the bats they are just too cute. So now the two stars at the Haus des Meeres.

Get ready for the two stars at the Haus des Meeres: first – the bats

… and of course there are the little monkeys. They are quite used to humans and come really close but don’t touch them or feed them. They get their own food.

They are just too cute – the monkeys

And so the other day I staid at this place for I don’t know how many hours. I think it was a lot because I already heard them telling me through their loud speakers that they would close the place pretty soon and I was not even half way through … it is really a place where you can spend many many hours. And I like it cause it is close to Mariahilfer Strasse when it comes to the geographic distance but the atmosphere feels like hundred miles away. So if you decide to go shopping during your stay in Vienna you might consider going to the Haus des Meeres as well.

Info: Haus des Meers (http://www.haus-des-meeres.at), Fritz-Grünbaum-Platz 1, 1060 Vienna; phone +43/1/587 14 17; fax +43/1/586 06 17; email office@haus-des-meeres.at; opening hours: daily 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. except for thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Green Cottage Part II: This time the Chinese one

Last week was the week when I spent my time outside Vienna at an Austrian lake called Traunsee. It was wonderful – believe me. But what was missing was the variety of different cuisines. Don’t get me wrong! I love Austrian food – its my home food in the end. But I do need other food too – especially Asian one. So today I had to get some Chinese food. And there is one restaurant close to Naschmarkt which serves really good Chinese food.

Green Cottage – great Chinese restaurant close to Naschmarkt

You can find it right close to the U4 stop Kettenbrückengasse. You just need to walk away from Naschmarkt along Kettenbrücckengasse and you find it on the right side. There is an outdoor area too and since it was a wonderful day I wanted to sit outside. There was nobody though and so I had to get the waiter who was inside the restaurant.

During the week they serve lunch specials consisting of one entree, which today was either daily soup or daily salad and one main course. You choose from 7 or 8 different main courses all at different prices. These lunch specials are somehow affordable. Other than the lunch specials I would say that the restaurant serves food slightly more expensive than in regular restaurants but it is wonderful food. And so you can find stir-fried duck with green thai asparagus or some other Chinese food which is out of the ordinary. In their menue they state that they get their veggies from Naschmarkt. I guess I have to believe them as I cannot prove it.

It is more of a fancy schmancy restaurant – they give you fresh cutlery for every course

Since they had these lunch specials today I decided to take one this time. I decided to take the salad as an entree – since I don’t particularly feel like soup for lunch in summer. And as the main course I chose the trout with veggies. The weekly menue also stated that there was a three-course business lunch but for 18 Euros that was much too expensive for me – plus it didn’t say what it contained and I didn’t want to ask. The waiter who took my order had to check whether they still had the trout but fortunately they did. I once experienced that they ran out of something even though it was on the menue. But that is ok as I think that this is a good sign that food is fresh here.

The entree was the Cottage salad

So, the first course was the Cottage salad and it said that there was some sort of dressing coming with the salad. It turned out that it was pretty sour dressing as they used lots of vinegar. But it was ok since they also had celery beets cut into the salad and I have to say without the sour dressing I would have not wanted to eat the celery as I don’t like celery.

The trout filet was definitely yummy!

The main course was the highlight of the meal though. The fish was wonderful although part of it caught quite some salt and made the veggies salty too. But other than that it was perfect. The veggies were really fresh and they chopped some zucchini and pak choi also so I had two of my favorite veggies there. That was really yummy. The fish was crispy. It was great!

The size of the meal was sufficient although I have never been stuffed when I came here for food. The time before I ordered the tofu and it was not enough food. So in any case I would suggest to also order a first course or a dessert. Then you are on the safe side. The fact that I have also seen Chinese eat here is also a sign for me that this is a great place. So if you are at Naschmarkt you might consider coming here instead of the other restaurants on Naschmarkt.

Info: Green Cottage (http://www.green-cottage.at), Kettenbrückengasse 3, 1040 Vienna; phone: +43/(0)1/5866581; fax: +43/(0)1/5866581; mail: info@green-cottage.atopening hours: Mon – Sat 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., Sun closed, all major credit cards

Embassy of the Currywurst Republic

No joke. We have a Currywurst Embassy in Vienna. And believe me it is so much more fun than any other embassy in Vienna. At my first attempt to come here I failed miserably. Smart me! I didn’t check when the place was open. So I was standing in front of a closed imbiss stand.

Close to Schwedenplatz is the Currywurst Botschaft – Embassy of the Currywurst

But I learned from my mistake and knew that it is only open when there is good weather around noon and then in the evening from around 5:00 p.m. and since the last days were horrible weatherwise I took the first chance today when the weather was better to come here. First, I was not sure whether I really liked to come here since I was pretty hungry and just a sausage might not be enough but then I decided that I am too curious I just had to come.

And believe me I did not regret it. To be honest the portions are not complete meal size. Of course, you should not expect that from an imbiss stand – this is a place for having just a snack. When I arrived there were not many people – actually there were only three including me. The guy behind the counter – yes, he was definitely German and I am sure judging by his accent he was from Berlin. He didn’t look too happy but was not unfriendly. I am not sure maybe he was the owner. The prizes are decent. If you take the curry wurst (sausage) with fries and one beverage you pay around 8 Euros.

The prizes are not low but you get really good quality

For me it was the curry wurst with fries and the berlin sauce. It took some time till the food was ready. This is not the good part here. The good part is that the reason why the food took longer was that the guy was making fresh french fries. I think they don’t even use frozen potatoes but fresh ones. And for that I was definitely willing to wait. In the end it was just a few minutes and the result was really yummy crispy fries. Also the curry wurst was delicious.

I took the sausage with the berlin sauce and the fries

I only had currywurst once before so I don’t have that much options to compare that to but it was really great. I mean you hardly get real curry wurst in Vienna. They usually give you fake currywurst. Here at imbiss stands if you order it you get bratwurst with some sauce that is more ketchup than anything else and some curry powder on top. But this was really good and I am sure when I am close to Schwedenplatz and feel like having sausage I will certainly want to come back here. Maybe then I will try one of the other sauces – either Bochum or Sylt – but I loved the Berlin one a lot. And when I left I thought: “Actually, now I can use some more.”

Info: Currywurst Botschaft, close to Adria Wien close to Schwedenplatz and Salztorbrücke, there is no phone number and neither fax nor email, this imbiss stand is seasonal and only open during the summer; opening hours are at good weather conditions from noon till 2:00 p.m. and from 5:00 p.m. till 10:00 p.m., I haven’t found any Facebook page or acutal website eventhough they have the http://www.wurstbotschaft.at on the posters pinned to the imbiss stand

The green cottage that is no longer green

Today, I was already pretty hungry. First I thought I would go to this one vegetarian restaurant but then I thought: “No, I need some typical Austrian food that is not healthy at all but fills my stomach”. And you can find that food in Vienna pretty easily. One of the restaurants that serve you just that is “Die grüne Hütte” which translates to “Green Cottage”.

Since its renovation the Green Cottage is no longer green.

In the past the Green Cottage was really green and a cosy place not the most exclusive to put it more diplomatic but cosy. Then they build the subway and it turned from green into light brown. Today it is less cosy but still very typical Viennese. It is also pretty easy to reach. Just get off at U2 “Messe – Prater” take the “Prater” exit and you are standing right in front of it.

I did the same today because, remember, I needed some food to fill my stomach. The restaurant was almost empty when I arrived. It was already 3:00 in the afternoon. The waiter was there, maybe the boy standing next to him was his son. I don’t know. I don’t go here that often. The prices are decent still I would not come here every day. Those that were sitting at the tables were all Viennese. When tourists go to the Prater they usually go to the Schweizerhaus, which has adapted its prices accordingly. This place is not so much a place where tourists go.

During the week they serve lunch specials but since it was friday they had the usual fried fish which I don’t like. The menue itself was not very extensive. Maybe because of the time of the day, I went there.

The menue at 3:00 p.m. was limited. In the evening they have a more extensive one.

Somehow I already knew what I would take. I just had to decide whether I’d like to have the Schnitzel or the Berner Würstel. I decided for the Berner Würstel. Now, Berner Würstel just means sausages filled with cheese and rolled in bacon. They usually come with fries, tomato ketchup and mustard with chopped onions. It is very typical Viennese food – not very fancy. You just need to get some sausages, put cheese in them and then put the bacon on the outside. I like them and it is usually the food on a menue which falls into the lower price category. In most restaurants they also serve pretty large portion when it comes to this kind of food.

Berner Würstel: sausages somehow Viennese style … the kids like them, I like them too

And after I ate all this food I was pretty stuffed. Yes, I think it was the right decision to go for this instead of the vegetarian restaurant. I do like vegetarian food though but maybe next time. It is nice to have some typical Viennese once in a while. And the “Grüne Hütte” is really a good place to go. If you visit the Prater I can truly recommend it. It is off the beaten track, not very touristy.

Info: Restaurant zur Grünen Hütte (http://www.gruenehuette.at), Prater 196, 1020 Vienna; phone: +43/1/729 27 10, fax: +43/1/729 27 10 – 12; mail: office@gruenehuette.at; opening hours: Mon – Sun from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.; right at U2 “Messe – Prater” exit “Prater”

Anything but Sacher Torte

No, us Viennese don’t go to Demel and probably not that much to the Café Sacher either. And there is the traditional café where you get all these traditional cakes for which Vienna is somehow famous and there is an alternative – much nicer, much more for people that like to have a nice piece of cake at a cosy place.

Close to Schwedenplatz there is a nice little cake shop – the Fett und Zucker

Yesterday I wanted to visit this one restaurant at Rotenturmstrasse which I hadn’t visited for some time and which I loved a lot. It is a Chinese restaurant which served not this transfusion Asian food but the owner tried to offer really great food like vegetarian chicken and so on. Turned out that this place changed considerably. The nice owner was no longer here instead there were two faceless waitresses. You probably know that when you go to a restaurant and the waitresses don’t relate to the restaurant at all. They are just there to make their job. Some even go that far that they don’t care much whether you are here or not as long as they get their pay check. And so after having some rather disappointing lunch I had to get something to cheer me up again.

Since I was at Schwedenplatz already I thought I just walk over the Salztor bridge to the 2nd district and go to Hollandstrasse. There is a little shop close to the Karmelitermarkt which opened a bit over a year ago and which is just the idea of a few people that love to bake cake and sell it.

And so from the beginning this place was a hotspot for the young people – mostly students. In summer they just sit outside in front of the shop but the interior is quite lovely and individualistic as well. When I last visited the shop it was not quite finished, there were tons of people and hardly any space.

The interior of the Fett und Zucker – where probably no chair is like the other

The one serving me I guess she was one of the owners. She was really nice when I got the cake and did not insist that I pay immediately but told me I should make myself comfortable, eat my cake first and pay whenever I am ready. Of course, as always I did not know what to take at first. Fortunately they have a menue and it turned out that they not only offer cake like when they first opened the shop but also other things like breakfast and salad as well. Still, I had to get a piece of cake. Remember: depressions because of my bad lunch experience. So I decided for a poppy seed cake with plum jam and something that tasted like a vanilla cream. It was a glutenfree cake.

The cakes are really simple somehow but just so yummy. Here the poppy seed cake.

Like with all cakes you get here they tell you whether it is a vegan cake or lactose-free or whatever dietary information you need. That is really cool. I know of hardly any place in Vienna where you get vegetarian cake on purpose. And so I think this place is really a tip for all of you who like to get some nice vegetarian or vegan cake. They also have a changing selection of cakes also depending on seasonal fruits or whatever they like to bake.

I think this place to be really nice. Far from the over-fancy cafés where you get a piece of cake which turns out to be a chunk of sugar cause it is so sweet.

Info: Fett und Zucker (http://www.fettundzucker.at), Hollandstrasse 16, 1020 Vienna; phone +43/699/116 60 092; mail office@fettundzucker.at, I don’t provide you with the opening hours here since they are different in summer and winter, I guess it is best if you visit their homepage to the find out about them, no credit cards