Bangkok is booming when it comes to fine dining. More and more top-notch restaurants pop up, and there’s definitely more than Thai food to discover in this cosmopolitan city. Take Sühring for example, the exciting project of the renowned German twin brothers Mathias and Thomas Sühring, presenting gastronomic dishes inspired by their home country. With Thailand’s number one Gaggan’s closing in 2020 in mind, Sühring might be the restaurant to take the leading place in most culinary lists, like Asia’s 50 Best, Michelin and The Best Chef Awards. So we went to Bangkok to discover this unique hideaway where German comfort food is lifted to the highest level of gastronomic cooking.
There’s no place like home
Restaurant Sühring is located in a tranquil 1970s villa in a residential area in the heart of Bangkok, somewhere between Lumphini Park and the Chao Phraya River. The building used to be a residence for people working at the nearby embassies and was thoroughly remodeled with great respect for the soul of the house.
Today, dining at Sühring feels like having dinner at somebody’s private home. Surrounded by a tropical, leafy garden, every room of the house has its own style, making you feel at home thanks to the intimate atmosphere. When the twins found this house, they immediately knew it was perfect for their concept. When they were young they used to spend a lot of time at their grandma’s farm leaving them fantastic memories till today. The peaceful home with the stunning garden reminded the Sühring brothers of the beautiful moments of their youth, so they couldn’t have imagined a better place to invite their guests to discover their roots by serving them refined German comfort food in a unique context.
When entering through the back door – like we did – you’re immediately standing in the heart of Sühring: the ‘Kitchen’. The dynamic kitchen is designed for the full Sühring Erlebnis. It showcases the best of modern German fare inspired by childhood memories and family recipes. Dining at the Kitchen means enjoying the unforgettable vibrant and intimate vibe, watching the team preparing the dishes in front of you.
Going up, next stop is the ‘Dining room’. This is the main dining area, which provides a cosy and set-back eating experience surrounded by the greens of the garden that are clearly visible through the large windows. The same tradition is reflected here, but the atmosphere and design feels more like the festive home party dinners and family gatherings. But still everything feels very relaxed and intimate.
The upper floor is called the ‘Living Room’. This charming private dining space which is situated above the Dining Room, is styled as an intimate lounge for small parties of up to 8 persons. Be sure to enjoy the full Sühring Erlebnis here, including a private chef and attentive service, spoiling you with nice food and fine music, using the antique pick-up record player.
Dining in the ‘Winter Garden’ feels like dining outside in. This glasshouse is inspired by the twins’ childhood country farmhouse in Germany. It provides a peaceful and natural atmosphere. Situated at the edge of a continuously growing garden you will find yourself dining in the most relaxing and inspiring environment.
A culinary journey to success
Always knowing that they wanted to aim for the stars, the twins started cooking in Berlin, and then got the chance to gain experience in Wolfsburg at restaurant Aqua under Michelin-starred chef Sven Elverfeld. After a while Mathias went to the three starred restaurant De Librije in the Netherlands to work with topchef Jonnie Boer. Italy was the place where Thomas headed to work with the renowned chef Heinz Beck at the three-star restaurant La Pergola in Rome. So before Thomas and Mathias started their own restaurant in Bangkok, they already had quite an impressive professional track record. Their last stop before Sühring was Mezzaluna in Bangkok, where they had been cooking for about seven years, making it one of the most loved and respected gastronomic restaurants in the city.
German comfort food
When reading Sühring offers German comfort food, one might not really know what to expect. But knowing that Michelin awarded them stars, that they’re in the Relais & Châteaux selection and that they’ve entered the list of The Best Chef Awards, one can expect this concept to be extraordinary. And we can assure it is.
The Sühring twins have elevated their family recipes to the level of haute cuisine. The menu reflects the chefs’ philosophy of quality, seasonality and simplicity. Both à la carte options and full set menu’s can be enjoyed at Sühring. The cuisine of the twin shows there’s so much more to German cuisine than wurst or sauerkraut. Using seasonal ingredients and a large dose of technical skill, Thomas and Mathias offer tasting menus of seasonal dishes inspired by their home country. The creations change continuously according to the seasons.
Sühring showcases the best of modern German fare inspired by childhood memories, family recipes and years of travelling experience combining the essence of traditional dishes with contemporary Central European influences. All elevated to the level of haute cuisine. Mathias, Thomas and the Sühring team invite their guests to their home, offering a warm hospitality in a relaxed, yet elegant environment.
Getting to know Mathias and Thomas
We were lucky enough to join Mathias and Thomas Sühring for a chat in early spring of this year. So we sat back relaxing in the winter garden with a cup of coffee, while the brothers willingly told us more about their journey, their inspiration and their dreams. We were amazed how much the brothers looked alike, but not in the way of being a copy of one another, but in the way of being the perfect twoness or simply the perfect team.
Hungry for More & The Best Chef (Chef’s Secret): Nice to meet you, Thomas and Mathias. German twins in Bangkok cooking at the highest level of haute cuisine, that’s not the most common… How did you become chefs and how did you end up starting a restaurant here in Bangkok?
Thomas Sühring: Our careers started in Germany where we grew up. As kids we wanted to become doctors or train drivers. But in fact we did not really know what we wanted to do. One day our parents gave us the idea to become chefs, as we really enjoyed cooking when we were kids. And so we started to cook professionally and we joined the Young National Team during our apprenticeship in Berlin.
But it was far from easy in the beginning. So after a while in our tiny car – like a Smart, I remember – we were driving all around the country to hand out our CV’s and we just kept on hearing ‘no’ till we got totally discouraged and frustrated.
Mathias: Indeed, that was not an easy time for us. But eventually we could start working at the Ritz-Carlton in Wolfsburg that had one Michelin star back then. And after that we joined the Young National Team and things started to improve. So after some time I had the opportunity to go cook at De Librije with Jonnie Boer.
Thomas: And I joined Heinz Beck in Rome. One day, the chef and I went to Bangkok for a pop-up. And not long after that, in 2008, I got offered a job as the head chef at Mezzaluna, the restaurant on the 65th floor of the Lebua Hotel. But I wasn’t sure I felt like coming to Bangkok on my own, so I asked if my brother could come as well, thinking they would certainly refuse. But they didn’t, so Mathias and I left to go cook and live in Thailand. We both had experience in the haute cuisine style of cooking, so we did a kind of European and international concept at Mezzaluna as well. But after seven years at Mezzaluna, we felt like we had reached all our goals and we needed another challenge.
So we started thinking about the idea to start our own restaurant. And when we found this location, we just knew we had to take the step. We had already been living here for a long time, so we felt at home in Bangkok. There’s a great cosmopolitan vibe here and many new top hotels and creative hospitality concepts start to pop up. So the time and place were right, both emotionally and businesswise. So we got started and it turned out to be a huge success.
Chef’s Secret: So you decided to start a fine dining restaurant in a residential area, serving German food. Not an obvious choice either…
Mathias: What we wanted to create was certainly a destination restaurant. A place that people just really want to visit, even if they have to put some effort in getting there. So it had to be an unusual and attractive concept. In Thailand there are already many Italian and French restaurants, and that’s also the style we did during the first part of our careers. None of us had been cooking German food before.
But when we started to think about a good way to tell our story and heritage, in order to create something really personal, we came up with the idea to develop a type of new German cuisine. We found it a real pity that apparently no one had ever thought about bringing traditional German cuisine to the highest culinary standards. And when we thought about regions like Spain, Japan, the Nordics, that have all re-invented their cuisine, we thought it was time to do the same for the German style of cooking.
Chef’s Secret: Can you tell us more about that philosophy and cooking style?
Thomas: When you say German cuisine, most people immediately think of Oktoberfest like food. Although that’s also part of the German culture, it just a small piece of the richness and variety you can find in the dishes from our region. For example, we were born in East Germany and it wasn’t until we were twelve years old the Berlin Wall had fallen. So when we were young we were influenced by Eastern Europe and traditions you’ll find in Poland, Hungary or Russia.
Today we want to focus on that culinary variety and power. We let people discover different parts of Germany by taking them on a trip showcasing the different culinary identities of the country. And then everything is presented in a contemporary way. So the basis is traditional cooking, but the way it’s been executed is much more tasty and refined.
Mathias: In your education you learn how to cook classic French, never German. By introducing this concept of German fine dining, we got this emotional connection with German food. So we’ve been quite busy looking for advice from our parents and grandparents. They could certainly inspire and educate us, but it was our own challenge to learn from the past and to transpose it to the future. That why we also think it’s very important to teach the guests the story of each dish, instead of just serving them our food.
Chef’s Secret: So how do people react to the concept of new German cuisine in Bangkok?
Thomas: New German Cuisine is unusual and exotic here in Thailand, but if we would have started the exact same concept somewhere else, it would have been surprising and innovating as well. As we already mentioned, the success of the restaurant is even bigger than we expected or had hoped for, so I guess we can say people are reacting very positive and open to our concept. What might also sound surprising is that about 90% of our guests was Thai when we just started. Today almost half of our guests are travellers, due to the recognition of the famous culinary listings like Asia’s 50 Best and Michelin. But still many Thai people like to visit us, as well as expats, business people and tourists from Germany.
Chef’s Secret: Where do you find your inspiration day after day?
Mathias: We still get a lot of inspiration from the memories from our childhood. Our grandparents had a farm near Berlin, which was extremely fun for us when we were kids. And our grandma was a chef, so we loved helping her with the cooking. At the farm we had chickens, pigs, vegetables and so on. We loved being in nature’s surroundings, helping our family harvesting, picking berries and mushrooms in the forest and preserving them for winter time. Also the feeling of the family coming together to enjoy a meal at the table, recalls some amazing memories.
And besides our childhood, there’s a lot of inspiration via the travels we’ve done, the experiences we’ve had in the past, the stories of friends and family, books we’re reading, regions we’re exploring, and so on.
Thomas: It’s also easy to follow other chefs on Instagram and on the internet. It’s a fast and interesting way to discover what other people are doing, without having to travel all the time. Because of the internet the culinary community is getting closer. You can share inspiration with colleagues, even if they’re on the other side of the globe. It’s a small world now. Even if we are so far away, we can still be connected with peers, friends or family.
Chef’s Secret: Do you have a favourite dish or ingredient?
Thomas: We love products like salad, dill, fish like rainbow trout, fruits, veggies, and so much more. We cook with about 50% imported and 50% local foods. For example dairy and wine are imported, as those products are not common in the Asian cuisine. But actually we like to cook with familiar products, and we prepare them in an innovative way.
Chef’s Secret: How is it to work together as twins?
Thomas: In fact it’s uncomplicated and easy. We’ve grown up together, we share the same passion, we share the same thinking. It’s all so logical for us. We don’t need much communication.
We create dishes together, so there’s no separation of who does what. But we do have a different background and experience. As I have been working more in Italy before I tend to do more of the hot dishes, while Mathias – who worked at Jonnie Boer – has specialized more in cold dishes and appetizers. But there’s no clear role division.
Mathias: What’s of course very different from working in a hotel, is that you’ll have to do everything when you manage your own restaurant. PR, purchase, reservations, cost control… you need to learn a lot businesswise as well. Here we try to split the tasks, for example Thomas does the purchases, while I focus on cost control and HR. The importance of the latter cannot be underestimated, as we started with 20 employees and we’ve grown our business into a company of 60 people today. So it’s not only the business that needs to grow, the personal development of the people of your team is just as important.
An extra challenge is the fact that 90% of the people that work here have been trained at Sühring. They hardly had any experience when they started their job here. But we also have some experienced expats on the team here, like our Sous-Chef, Cornelius who is from Augsburg or our pastry chef, Roman, who’s from Tirol. The service is handled by Mathieu, a French-Thai native who is with us since the beginning and supported by a team of Germans and Frenchs expats. But in the end everything at Sühring is done by all of us together as a team, from conceiving dishes to doing the paperwork and communications.
Chef’s Secret: You get a lot of recognition via awards (Michelin, The 50 Best, The Best Chef Awards…). How important is that to you?
Thomas: It’s surely important for our business, as it gets more people to discover the restaurant, so the occupation rate increases. But on a personal level as well, it is important. We’ve had our education from the best chefs in the world, and it is amazing to get that recognition yourself at a certain point.
Chef’s Secret: So what’s next? What are your further dreams and ambitions?
Thomas: We focus on what we have now. Everything has happened so fast. We’ve been open for only three years now. So we just keep on giving the best we have day after day, and then we’ll see what happens.
At Sühring guests can choose between à la carte dishes and a set menu, granting the one and only Sühring Erlebnis. The menu consists of 14 dishes, served in three chapters: fingerfood and snacks, plated dishes and sweets and desserts.
Cured Arctic char
Bread & butter + Smoked sturgeon & 15g ossetra caviar
Zander & speck
Spätzle & black winter truffle
Crayfish & pumpkin
Hungarian duck in 2 servings (stew / filet)
Barley, raspberries & white chocolate
Omas Eierlikor + Black Forest chocolate cake
An excellent wine pairing with exclusively German and Austrian wines, often natural or (bio)dynamic is being offered with the Sühring menu. The ‘Weinkarte’ focuses on old world wines from relatively cool climate regions such as the Rheinhessen, Pfalz, Burgenland, Alsace and Burgundy. The brothers appreciate wines grown with a respect for nature, wines with complex mineral flavors and wines that tell a story about the place they’re from, sometimes also about the man or woman behind them. This is why the wines are preferred to come from organic and biodynamic viticulture. Those wines go better with the food, and feel better on the palates.
Sühring showcases an innovative German fine dining cuisine inspired by childhood memories, family recipes and years of travelling experience. All served in the unique context of an authentic private villa surrounded by a tropical garden paradise.
Restaurant Sühring, No. 10 Soi Yen Akat 3, Khwaeng Chong Nonsi, Khet Yan Nawa, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10120, Thailand | +66 2 287 1799 | firstname.lastname@example.org | restaurantsuhring.com | facebook.com/suhringtwins | instagram.com/restaurant_suhring | instagram.com/mathias_suhring | instagram.com/thomas_suhring