We might have been less frustrated with the Michelin starred Kin Dee had we not eaten at Thai Art a couple weeks earlier. This is the year-old, bare-bones Imbiss operated by is Siliya Rothert. After moving to Berlin from the central region of Sukhothai, Rothert spent a decade in the Thai Park trenches, drawing the streetfood market’s longest queues as she assembled bowl after bowl of pork tom yum from a sprawling mise en place of plastic tubs.
That soup is the star at Thai Art, too, and it’s still got a clear, spicy-tangy broth, perfectly cooked rice noodles and an ingredient list longer than the songwriter credits for Travis Scott’s “Sicko Mode” (among the most obvious: bean sprouts, chilli, lime, scallions, peanuts, fried wonton skin and pork in roasted, minced, meatball and crackling form). But we were most dazzled by the beef boat noodles. Rothert’s opaque broth goes easy on the blood and hard on the fermented bean curd for an incredibly funky depth of flavour, the kind we’d hoped to find but mostly missed at Kin Dee.
Vegetarians will have to pass on soup, but even the tofu pad thai is done better here – nicely wok-caramelised without a hint of gumminess. Curries and the gravy stir-fry lad nacan also be made meatless, though carnivores are definitely getting the best deal. We’ll be back on a Wednesday for the northern Thai dish khanom jin nam ngiaw, a braised pork and tomato stew ladled over rice vermicelli.
One’s heart aches to think about what Rothert – who started off at her mother’s restaurant back home and has been cooking since Kambhu was practically in diapers – could do with Kin Dee’s free-range meat, fresh seafood and top-notch produce. Instead, she’s forced to keep prices down to meet diners’ “soup lady” expectations. She told us some have baulked at Thai Art’s baseline of €7.50 per dish, which is just ridiculous. But the silver lining is that for now, for the price of a single dinner at Kin Dee, you can order seven bowls of Rothert’s noodles. We know which one we’d rather get.
Thai Art | Berliner Str. 42A, Wilmersdorf, Mon-Fri 11-20, Sat-Sun 12-20