Hoof in mouth: Guyanese diner brings famous cow heel soup to East Flatbush

All types: Servings of cow heel, beef, and chicken soup from German’s Soup, newly opened in East Flatbush.
Michael Tulipan

Guyana’s favorite food is in stock.

A famous South American eatery named after a resident of the Rhineland has come to Brooklyn! German’s Soup, a beloved restaurant in Guyana, opened its second location in East Flatbush earlier this month, and members of the Guyanese Diaspora have flocked to the spot to partake in its signature cow heel soup, and to reminisce about the original take-out cafe in the Caribbean country’s capital, said the shop’s owner.

“It’s really a big deal back in Guyana, so a lot of folks living here, they got stories to tell about their experience with the restaurant, so it’s been a lot of Guyanese pride,” said Clinton Urling. He is the son of the late Hubert “German” Urling, who began selling cow heel soup to his neighbors in the 1960s and soon found that his special broth was the talk of the town.

“The word spread and people from outside the community came, and then people from the government and the private sector started coming, and he had to move to another location and business expanded tremendously,” he added.

Urling’s father opened his flagship store in Georgetown, Guyana’s capital, in the 1970s, and his older brother now runs that location.

Despite the geographical differences, both stores have the same best-selling soup, said Urling.

“The cow heel soup especially — it resonated with everybody,” he said. “58 years later it is still German’s Soup most popular soup.”

The menu also includes three other meat-based soups — beef, chicken, and oxtail — as well as a vegetarian option. It also offers cuisine inspired by Guyana’s blend of African, Amerindian, Chinese, and Indian cultures, including curries, cook-up rice, Guyanese chow-mein, and pepper pot.

Urling has made a few changes to his father’s recipes, based on the different crops available in the United States. The Brooklyn location uses more corn than its counterpart in Guyana, he said, and its herbs and spices are fresher, he said.

International expansion: The East Flatbush outpost of the famous Guyanese soup restaurant, German’s Soup, is the first location in the United States.
Michael Tulipan

“The first time I made the soup here, I said ‘Wow, this is good,’ ” he said. “So we’re using a lot of high quality ingredients here and taking advantage of that.”

But Urling said he does not plan on giving out the family’s secret recipes any time soon.

“I’m going to keep it and I’m not gonna share,” he said.

The restaurant is named after Urling’s father’s nickname, “German” — a name he adopted after being in an accident with a German vehicle, according to family lore. Urling considered changing the name for its Brooklyn location, but realized that he had to stay true to the famous original.

“Coming into this market, I didn’t know if I wanted to go with German’s or not, but I had a bad feeling and didn’t [change it],” he said. “If I changed the name it would be a disaster, and every Guyanese would be pissed because it’s become a symbol of the country.”

Urling said that the restaurant keeps his father’s memory alive, and that his dad would be overjoyed with the expansion.

“If he was alive to see this, he would beyond ecstatic and I give all the credit to him,” he said.

German’s Soup [793 Utica Ave. between Linden Boulevard and Lenox Road in East Flatbush, (718) 513–0376, www.germanssoup.com]. Open daily, 10 am–9 pm.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimon@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @AS1mon.
One bowl coming up: Clinton Urling holds a bowl of his late father’s famous soup.
Photo by Jason Speakman

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