We regret to inform you that everything you’ve heard about Liu Chengdu Wei Dao is true: this new lunch spot by Stadtmitte U-Bahn station serves a superlative bowl of Sichuan noodles, completely unadulterated for German palates. We ordered the beef version, mittelscharf (€10.90), and got a hefty tangle of round strands in an oil-slicked broth, topped with tender stewed meat and a generous handful of chopped coriander and scallions. Despite the stop-sign-red colour, the heat level was totally manageable. The noodles themselves obviously came from a package and were softer than we would’ve liked, but the heady ma la buzz from the spicy chilli and tingly Sichuan peppercorns kept us diving back in for more.
So why the regret? Well, ever since writer Hilda Hoy (who once bemoaned Berlin’s lack of good Chinese food in these very pages) propelled this place onto the blogosphere, every foodie Instagrammer in the city has posted a vermillion noodle bowl in front of Liu’s panda-shaped condiment containers. That, plus the Chinese community’s word-of-mouth, means the cafeteria-like storefront is absolutely slammed during the three and a half hours it’s open per day. Between the wait to order, the wait to be seated, the wait for your food and the wait to pay, you’ll spend more time standing or sitting around than eating – a bummer even for those of us who don’t have day jobs. Solo diners can get in and out in an hour, but groups should come no later than 2pm. Or hold off until Liu finally opens for dinner (any day now, apparently) and adds Chengdu hotpot to the menu.