Berlin: Tim Raue (Oct. 2013)
Exec Chef: Tim Raue
October 29, 2013
I wanted to try a great restaurant while in Berlin, so I looked around Chowhound a bit. The name Tim Raue came up a lot, so I checked out the menu, was intrigued, and promptly made reservations!
The restaurant was only about half-full, and even online I was able to make dinner reservations for all of the days I was in Berlin. Maybe people just don’t eat at fancy restaurants on weekdays in Berlin… It makes me a little sad, because with the quality of the food this restaurant would be full on a Tuesday night in NYC (or HK haha).
There are three options: you can order a la carte, the seasonal tasting menu (4-6 courses), or the “unique” menu (their fancy one). I went with the “unique” one because I wanted to see the best they had to offer. The items I was particularly excited to try included the partridge and Peking duck, but the langoustine ended up surprising me—it was very well cooked, and the concept was perfectly executed.
The meal had hints of Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Thai, AND Vietnamese cooking. It’s pretty bizarre… Somehow, though, Chef Raue makes it all work well!
1. Shanghai cucumber.
2. Radish with Japanese mustard.
3. Cashews with yellow Thai curry.
4. Pork belly with Sichuan pepper and sesame.
5. Ceviche of scallop.
6. Smoked quail egg with caviar.
7. Lamb chop with honey and Sichuan pepper.
8. Seaweed wakame with daikon radish leaf.
Thoughts on AB 1 and 2:
The Shanghai cucumbers had a really weird flavor that I didn’t really like but was glad that I tried. They were both really sweet and spicy—but not pleasantly so. More than anything, they woke up my palate. As you would expect, the radishes were very acidic. They reminded me of other radish slices I’ve had in the past, though the mustard gave them some extra oomph. I mostly used these as a palate cleanser between trying the other dishes.
Thoughts on AB 3 and 4:
This sounds ridiculous, but the cashews had a hint of sweetness that reminded me of Fruit Loops (in a good way!) haha. The pork belly was really fatty and rich, and the extremely thin slices melted in my mouth.
Thoughts on AB 5 and 6:
I don’t really have much to say about the scallop—it was rather forgettable, like the quail egg. Both didn’t have much flavor, and, as for the quail egg, I couldn’t really taste the caviar too much. Maybe both were meant to be really delicate…
Thoughts on AB 7 and 8:
The lamb chop had a rich flavor that was enhanced by a tinge of sweetness from the honey. The seaweed wakame was like any other great seaweed salad you’ve had, except that it also had a little “crunch” from the daikon radish leaf.
Imperial caviar with grilled marrow, calpico meringue, dill butter, and Japanese cucumber pickled with rice vinegar.
This dish had delicate flavors that weren’t strong at all. Pickled cucumbers helped to refresh the palate a few times, which made each bite of the caviar and marrow fresh. Honestly, though, this dish was forgettable. It tasted good (it’s caviar and marrow haha), but it paled in comparison to the rest of the meal.
Butter-fried turbot glaced with dashi jelly and bonito flakes, young ginger and fresh peas, green melon, and cream of sweet onions and peas with melon juice.
The dashi jelly worked wonderfully with the beautiful turbot, which was already soft and rich. (I mean, it was butter-fried. You can’t really go wrong with that haha.)
However, I have to say that the ginger, peas, and melon didn’t really add to the dish. They felt like kind of an afterthought to the amazing piece of fish. They were good by themselves, but I’m not sure how well they paired with the turbot.
Langoustine which was turned over in starch flour, deep-fried in wok, and marinated with wasabi mayonnaise and deep-fried green rice chips. Served with stock made from fish sauce, mango, and carrot.
The texture of the langoustine meat was soft, while the outside was creamy (due to the wasabi mayo) and crispy (due to the fried rice chips). It was a great combo—the textures kept on changing with each bite.
As you can probably tell, you can’t really go wrong flavor-wise with this fish. Deep-fried and marinated with wasabi mayo? Of course it’s going to be incredibly delicious!
My main concern is that the flavors were so powerful that I couldn’t really tell how the quality of the langoustine was. You could serve below average langoustine and still make it taste delicious due to the way it was cooked and prepared. In a way, this dish made me long for the simple (and excellent) cooking that Eric Ripert does with seafood.
However, I should probably reiterate that this really was a great dish, both in concept and execution. I ate it like a starving feral animal…
Sous-vide partridge breast with gravy of korean soy paste and pepper, Chinese salami and meringue of roasted almonds, pumpkin-nut butter cream and pumpkin cooked in nước mắm fish sauce, chickweed marinated with almond oil, and white Alba truffles.
The addition of the Chinese salami (as well as the meringue of roasted almonds, to a lesser extent) is BRILLIANT. It added a nice, almost smoky flavor as well as chewy and crispy textures to the dish. This dish overall was really delicious (and really complex), and I tasted all sorts of different flavors while eating this. Also… white Alba truffles. Win.
However, I think my critique about it is the same as the previous dish—I couldn’t quite taste the partridge by itself, and as a result I don’t know the quality of the meat. I suppose that it’s not necessarily a bad thing that I couldn’t focus on the primary ingredient if the dish itself was delicious. It’s just a different philosophy, I suppose. I feel like focusing on the pure taste of an ingredient is something I see a lot in Japanese cooking…
Overall, this was one of my favorite dishes. It was extremely complex, but all the various textures and flavors just… worked. And the white Alba truffles just did their thing hahaha.
Tim Raue’s “PEKING DUCK INTERPRETATION”
Breast with crispy skin, five-spice waffle with apple and leek, and jus of duck feet.
The breast skin really wasn’t as crispy as I would have liked. The fat and skin were delicious, though (as was the meat)! The waffle complemented the richness of the breast nicely, adding sweetness and cleansing the palate (but not so much by acidity). Both the breast and the waffle were delicious, and in this case they paired very well. Of course, this one of Chef Raue’s most famous dishes, so it makes sense that this part of the dish was so dang good.
Duck liver terrine, pickled cucumber, and ginger-leek cream.
The liver terrine was rich and creamy (as one would expect). It was about what I expected; I don’t have much to add.
Brew with tongue, heart, stomach, winter melon, and bamboo mushroom.
This was MAGICAL. It was extremely intense, and apparently they just keep a big pot of that stuff in the kitchen and just reduce it all day (of course). It wasn’t really a fancy, creative dish you’d usually find in haute cuisine, but it was hearty and delicious.
Manny’s dry-aged (6–8 weeks) beef shoulder in beef tea with coriander flavor, watermelon with pomegranate and soy sprouts, green Thai pepper, and coconut-coriander cream.
(Manny’s their butcher in Austria, and he apparently developed a different, biodynamic way of dry-aging beef. Huh.)
Anyway, the coriander flavor was VERY strong and complemented the rich beef very well. The aftertaste, however, was also very strong. Fortunately, the watermelon cut down on the aftertaste significantly.
Manny’s cured tongue with steak tartare of Wagyu, vinaigrette made from watermelon, green Thai pepper, spring leek, and red onion.
This didn’t really stand out to me. I’ve had better beef tongue, and I’ve also had better tartare :(. The flavor combinations worked; it’s just that the Wagyu itself wasn’t quite as good as other Wagyu I’ve had (especially all the Wagyu I had in Japan recently…).
Apple sorbet, mustard, red cabbage, coriander puree, and purple curry (a spice mix with hibiscus added in).
I don’t really have much to say for this palate cleanser. It was a decent transition from the savory side to sweeter things, but it wasn’t amazing or anything.
Apricot slices, apricot sorbet, passion fruit vinegar, cream and air chocolat of Valrhona Dulcey, and wild Madagascar pepper and basil.
My expectations for dessert weren’t too high after the somewhat disappointing palate cleanser, but this allayed my worries. There was a good mix of differing levels of sweetness and textures; the apricot slices, apricot sorbet, and passion fruit vinegar had a fruit-like sweetness and soft to liquid textures, but the Valrhona Dulcey had a caramel-like flavor with a crisp texture that crumbled in your mouth. The basil and pepper, as well as the acidity of the apricot, helped keep my palate fresh while eating this.
Bottom right: Apricot jelly over almond milk.
Bottom left: Homemade nougat.
Top right: Passion fruit ice cream inside a layer of pistachio chocolate.
Top left: Chocolates filled with white chocolate butter.
Aaaaaaaand diabetes. Happy, happy diabetes.
I enjoyed this meal a lot. The service was decent, and the staff seemed very laid-back yet attentive. They were also able to answer nearly all of my questions about the dishes.
The food was excellent, and I think I may have liked this meal even more than I normally would because of Chef Raue’s style of cooking. I haven’t really had much Asian food in a while, so seeing elements of different Asian cuisines made me happy—it helped that the food was delicious as well hahaha.
The savory courses are considerably better than their desserts, admittedly, but it’s not like the desserts are terrible. It’s just that the savory side of the meal was so impressive.
If you’re in Berlin and looking to splurge, I highly suggest you check Tim Raue out! People seem to say it’s one of, if not the, best restaurants in Berlin, and, after eating here (and even though I have limited knowledge of Berlin’s food scene), I think that could very well be true.