05 January 2019

Things I Love in Berlin: Dong Xuan Center

I have heard of Dong Xuan Center before. I knew that somewhere deep in the east, there's this massive area of shops and food stalls in warehouses and hangars. I even had a friend who lived in Cottbus, who every time whenever he needed a haircut, would trek all the way to Berlin and head to Dong Xuan Center and get a haircut. But for me, it took me more than 6 years to finally make the trek here.

See, Dong Xuan Center is in Lichtenberg, along the M8 tram line. I've only been to this part of Berlin once, a long time ago. So a few weeks ago, we decided to head out here on a Saturday to see what it is about exactly. Just in case, we brought shopping bags.

When we got there, we saw several covered warehouses, hall after hall. We entered each and every one of them. We found Vietnamese supermarkets. We found Vietnamese nail salons, barbershops, pho restaurants, even Vietnamese car dealers. It really felt like suddenly I was out of Germany, and out of Europe. And since we went a few weeks before our trip to Vietnam, it felt like I was doing a dress rehearsal for my trip.

I liked the supermarkets the most. I found exotic fruit, like durian, jackfruit, rose apples, and other items. I saw bottled sauces from the past: soy sauces, fish sauces, sambal olek, and many others. In the end, we bought mochi with durian as well as with pandan, as well as a couple of Vietnamese rice cakes.

Perhaps this is a manifestation of the multicultural aspect of Berlin, which makes me love living here. I have a Turkish supermarket I go to every now and then, an Afghan market that provides me with Persian jam as well as gaz, and now I know where to get good Southeast Asian supplies. I'll add it to my list, and I will definitely make the trek here whenever I need to replenish my supplies. I'll just skip it for the haircut: I think I prefer my Turkish hairstylist (and his Persian substitute) in Kreuzberg.

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