It’s a late Thursday afternoon on a humid summer’s day and things have quietened down at Lon Men’s Noodle House. With the lunchtime rush over, the waiting staff are sitting down to eat while the chefs prepare the stew for the dinner service, the smell of ginger, garlic and onions thickening the air.
The restaurant’s owner, Hsien-Kuo Ting, is holding court, laughing and joking with staff while playfully teasing his wife, Show-Lian.
Pictures of celebrities posing with the staff adorn the walls of the two-decade-old, 40-odd-seater restaurant. Within just a few minutes of meeting the lively owner, it is easy to see how he is as much of a draw for customers as Lon Men’s’ signature dish.
“I’m always talking to my customers and the other restaurant owners on the street,” jokes 69-year-old Ting. “Everybody knows me around here. My wife calls me the mayor of Kantstrasse.”
Theirs is the only Taiwanese restaurant on Kantstrasse, a lively, affluent street in Charlottenburg, in the west of Berlin, named after the German philosopher Immanuel Kant.