There are two things Thomas and Mathias Sühring would save from their eponymous Bangkok restaurant, should – heaven forbid – a fire break out: a jar of sourdough starter, and a recipe book. They brought these two precious items to a special pop-up dinner at the Wynn Palace in Macau, where we interviewed the identical twin chefs.
The book is a repository of handwritten family recipes, handed down through three generations. Now, it’s in the hands of the brothers, the custodians of an important legacy. Recipes for pickling and fermentation, bread, traditional sweet and savoury dishes, and drinks (including their grandmother’s special eggnog) can all be found within its pages.
With the book as guide, the brothers have pioneered a unique style of contemporary German cuisine — one that has propelled their restaurant to international acclaim since its opening in 2016.
A journey back together
Born five minutes apart, the brothers have spent most of their lives together, save for their apprenticeships and the three years when they forged their culinary reputations. Mathias worked at three-Michelin-starred De Librije in the Netherlands, and older brother Thomas at equally-awarded La Pergola in Rome.
They were reunited in Bangkok in a roundabout way. Thomas had cooked at a pop-up dinner in the city, and was offered a job there. “I didn’t want the job. So, I said I had a twin brother, and if they wanted me, I would need to come with Mathias,” says Thomas. “I told them that because I thought they would say no. But they said ‘of course, come with your brother’.”
With that, the twins moved to Thailand in 2008.
“Pork knuckle, sausages, sauerkraut, mustard and potatoes are a part of our heritage but there is much more to discover.”
Cooking up a concept
The brothers grew restless after seven years at Mezzaluna. They felt technically accomplished but lacking a sense of identity, and they yearned for their own restaurant.
After combing the narrow sois of Bangkok on a scooter for six months, they found an old 1970s villa. It took them a year to renovate. “It was a destination place and we needed to come up with a concept,” says Thomas, acknowledging that they had no idea what sort of restaurant it would be when they first leased the space.
At the time, the brothers had never cooked German food in a professional capacity. It is something that comes naturally to them, however. “When we started cooking and tasting the food, we developed an emotional connection and were comfortable with it right away,” says Thomas.
Awakening memories of harvests and childhood summers
Growing up in Berlin, the boys had spent idyllic summers at their grandparents’ farm. They helped with harvests, fed animals,foraged for mushrooms and berries, and picked tomatoes, cucumbers and cherries. Their grandmother, a passionate cook, nurtured their love of food. It was she who taught them about preserving and pickling.
Such fond childhood memories and emotions underscore much of their cooking. Dishes at Suhring are light and beautifully presented. It may be grounded in tradition, but it is a far cry from the stodgy dishes one associates with German cuisine.
The Suhring tasting menu changes regularly, but bread, made from the precious starter, is always a star. At Wynn Palace, it was rye sourdough, elevated to fine-dining status with caviar, smoked sturgeon and cultured parsley butter.
Another signature, the humble currywurst, a Berlin street food of sausage doused in ketchup laced with curry powder, becomes a bite-size snack with the glam factor, a wafer-thin potato cracker substituted for the usual greasy fries.
“People see German food as Bavarian food – heavy, big portions, like what is served during Oktoberfest. Pork knuckle, sausages, sauerkraut, mustard and potatoes are a part of our heritage but there is much more to discover,” say Mathias and Thomas.
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