Dynamic Teutonic twins from Sühring restaurant talk about bringing modern German cuisine to Bangkok
Think of your last German meal and what comes to mind? Was it a pleasant memory? Identical-twin brothers Thomas and Mathias Sühring want to change stereotypes about German cuisine, with a contemporary take on their homeland’s flavours.
The duo hail from Berlin and after receiving their culinary training from the national team, they decided to drive door-to-door to many of the country’s top restaurants and knock on doors. It sounds quaint but it worked.
“None of the restaurants were interested, but several referred us to Sven Elverfeld in Wolfsburg, who was running a one-star Michelin eatery. He was our mentor and by the time we left his place had three Michelin stars,” says Thomas.
The pair actually split to work their way up the culinary ladder—one heading to Holland, the other to Rome—before a gourmet festival had them both visiting Thailand. An impressive showing got them an offer at Mezzaluna in Lebua Tower, where they worked for seven years before hanging out their own shingle at Sühring.
“Twenty years ago when we started, being a chef was not popular like it is today. For a while we were doing what we thought we should do in the profession, rather than what we wanted to do,” Mathias points out.
“We have lived in the Yen Akat area for several years, and have wanted to start something like this for a while,” adds Thomas. “We felt like we couldn’t express our roots, and the concept of this restaurant goes back to those memories we had as children helping out in our grandparents’ kitchen during school holidays.”
The brothers are not fond of the ideal of fine dining, so Sühring aims to be casual and homey, but at the same time elegant. “Having a good time, eating good food… this is uncomplicated,” explains Mathias.
But there is nothing simple about their dishes: pretzel bread with obatzda aged camembert cheese and paprika; a German flat oyster served with apple and beer vinegar; Caesar salad on crispy chicken skin; seven different herbs emulsified into a green bubble; a salad of 27 types of leaves with artichoke dressing; Bayrisch sauerkraut with caviar on a caraway seed crisp; Black Forest deer pan-roasted in butter with mushroom sauce; and tingling buckwheat ice cream with Bartlett pear and cinnamon mousse. And these are just a portion of the dishes presented on their lavish 12-course tasting menu.
“Globalization affects every cuisine. We are not blind to that, and we are open to inspiration from other parts of the world. But we want to maintain German flavours,” says Thomas. Not every ingredient in a German kitchen has to be from that country, he added, as produce from Alsace, Switzerland, northern Italy, Austria and Poland are a regular part of German cuisine. The duo’s drive for authenticity even led them to do the fermenting and pickling for the eatery as well as baking all of its bread.
“We also wanted to showcase the wine and spirits of the region,” adds Mathias. The focus is on cool-climate wines from small vineyards, which the brothers believe pairs well with some of their distinctive flavours. Gaining popularity are orange wines, in which the skins of white wine grapes are given maceration time with the wine, giving the final product its hue.
The finale for Sühring’s tasting menu is egg liquor—a type of egg nog that brings back that sense memory the pair retain from their childhood. “This is our grandmother’s recipe and was the first alcoholic drink she would let us have,” says Mathias with a grin. Accentuating the homey atmosphere of the restaurant on Yen Akat Soi 3 is the knowledge that Mathias and Thomas live in the building.
Take a moment to appreciate what the brothers are trying to do at Sühring. “This concept of German restaurant is unique not only for Bangkok, but most of the world. We took a big risk with this venture, and even though we believed in ourselves, the enthusiastic response surprised us,” Thomas admits.
Open for half a year, the eatery has done good business, with 90% of the customers Thai, according to Thomas.
“We are still experimenting and learning every day,” Mathias says in closing. “This is like a laboratory for us to create new dishes.”
By Robin Banks