With his much-loved, eponymous restaurant near Checkpoint Charlie and two new eateries opening in the German capital, chef Tim Raue has claimed his spot as one of Berlin’s top toques. And with his elegant plating style and flair for Asian flavors and technique, Raue is poised to take the rest of the culinary world by storm.
Though the chef’s background is anything but traditional — he was part of a Berlin street gang as a teenager — he eventually found his way to cooking, training at some of the city’s top restaurants, including Quadriga in the Brandenburger Hof hotel, before branching out on his own. Raue has been on an upward trajectory ever since, nabbing numerous accolades and earning the official title of Berlin Master Chef from an independent jury of journalists and restaurant industry veterans.
Raue took a few minutes away from the kitchen to chat with us about his newest project, Sra Bua by Tim Raue, a restaurant inside Hotel Adlon Kempinski where he’s introducing to Berliners his favorite culinary inspiration, the flavors and techniques of Asia.
Tell us about Sra Bua. How did the concept come about?
The concept was developed by Kempinski Hotels, namely by Stéphane Bellon, the vice president of corporate food and beverage. The idea is to combine the diverse cuisine of Asia with European flair, tradition and style, interpreted by a European chef. The concept was first implemented in the Siam Kempinski Hotel in Bangkok. At the Adlon, we do a mix of contemporary Thai and Japanese dishes.
What is your favorite dish on the menu? Can you explain its development?
My favorite dish is the green curry, pea and cod. It’s a combination of four different Thai curries, a flavorful mix of creamy and sweet pea, hot curry and juicy melon with the light texture of the cod.
All the dishes are based on traditional recipes. For this, we use a green curry like the Thais do, then we add other flavors to make the dish more complex, such as apple and melon. As a result, the dish has several layers of flavor. I travel to Japan and Thailand twice a year and this is where my inspiration comes from. To me, it is a must.
What can diners expect from a visit to Sra Bua?
We serve casual Asian food in a luxurious but relaxed atmosphere. The restaurant’s décor is based on Asian wood, jade tiles and silk, making the atmosphere very calm. On top of that, warm colors such as dark brown, yellow and green are used. This provides an overall relaxed surrounding.
You play around with a lot of different Asian dishes, spices and techniques. How do you define your cuisine?
It is a unique mix composed of Thai flavors, Japanese purism and Chinese philosophy.
Where did you develop your love of Asian cuisine?
When I worked for Swissôtel and Raffles, I got the opportunity to travel in Asia and fell in love with the food there. After tasting the cuisines of Vietnam, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Bangkok, I started to buy English cookbooks about these areas. My second step was to find my own focus, which is mainly the Cantonese cuisine, the taste of Thailand and the pure cuisine of Japan. I got deeper into these themes and worked on a unique cuisine, which is the “Tim Raue” style.
It seems like the Berlin food scene is really blooming right now. What restaurants in are you most excited about in the city?
Actually, it is the latest of my own, La Soupe Populaire. There, we serve Prussian dishes in an [art exhibition space], which gives a very unique atmosphere.
And what are your favorite places to dine on a rare night off?
I love my favorite Chinese place, Tian Fu, or I spend the night off with good friends.
Photos Courtesy of Wolfgang Stahr-Kempinski