Si An is a prime example of the authentic Vietnamese cuisine which Berlin is so famous for. With a very simple but yet refined concept Si An, this place has been serving some of the freshest and tastiest modern Vietnamese food in Berlin for many years.
I would describe Si An as a better version of Monsieur Vuong in Mitte and Hami in Kreuzberg. What these three Berlin food institutions share is the food concept, all offer a very condensed Vietnamese menu with focus on the daily special(s), a variation of a curry dish that is served with rice and lots of herbs and other greens. Another cornerstone of the concept is that you can’t reserve a table, if there is no table you will have to wait. Fortunately they have a very quick table rotation and you won’t have to wait for long. I’ve eaten at all three places numerous times but for me Si An stands out from the other two in multiple ways.
The food at Si An is a refreshing twist on Vietnamese classics
First of all the venue is very cool, they put a lot of effort into the interior and exterior design of the restaurant and they did a fantastic job. You eat your meal on wooden benches in a cosy and modern environment with tons of flowers and other arrangements. Really special is what they’ve done to the exterior and especially the sidewalk in front of the restaurant. They’ve fixed up the trees and the surrounding soil, decorated it with moss and other plants and by that turned the whole sidewalk into a beautiful, Asian garden. This really stands out from the usual decoration of these sidewalk trees, which normally consists out of nothing but dog excrements.
The rolls are some of the best you can get in town and the Kimchi is also very nice
The food at Si An is a refreshing twist on Vietnamese classics, as described before you will have a choice between the daily specials or the standard menu and the latter one consists mainly out of soups like the Pho. I would recommend sticking to the daily specials, the Pho at Si An is good but not the reason why you should go here. The two first dishes on the daily special chalk board in the main restaurant are the mains you should choose from whereby I always recommend first timers to go for the first one, the curry dish, with either tofu or chicken. The first Nummer 1 I had was truly a revelation, until that point I had never tasted such fresh and light Asian food. The dish consist out of a curry sauce base, rice, chicken/tofu and is then topped by a huge amount of herbs and greens which almost gives the dish a salad like texture, the flavors and textures melt together beautifully and create a killer meal. The second daily special is usually a noodle dish with a oyster sauce base and also very nice. It doesn’t end here though, while at Si An you shouldn’t miss out on some of the killer starters like the summer rolls, kimchi or papaya salad. The rolls are some of the best you can get in town and the Kimchi is also very nice, not Korean at all really but a modern version with less fermentation and lots of spice. Last but not least, I can also strongly recommend the amazing teas.
I have a couple of regularly visiting friends who are literally addicted to Si An, every time they are here a visit at the restaurant is a given. For me it’s a symbol for Berlin and the unique Vietnamese culture of the city, I haven’t encountered Vietnamese as authentic as this in any other European city. At the same time I do agree with the notion of some people that the food has deteriorated slightly in the last years, but all that really means is that it was even more outstanding in the past. Si An is still a great Vietnamese restaurant and really a location where you can’t go wrong.