EDIT: YAMI YAMI IS NOW PERMANENTLY CLOSED
Yami Yami is a Chinese restaurant in Schöneberg cooking Hunan style food and a great place for authentic, Chinese food. The chef convinces with his hearty and spicy cooking and Yami Yami goes straight into my top five of Chinese restaurants in Berlin.
The first time I started hearing about Yami Yami was end of 2014, there was this rumour in the Berlin Chinese community about a new, authentic Hunan eatery in Schöneberg but it was not until March 2015 that I made it out to this (for me) very remote corner of Berlin. Yami Yami opened at the end of summer 2014 in the location that used to host “Green Lotus”, close to Bayrischer Platz. According to insider Mr. Meyer, the chef used to work at Ying Yang before. Yami Yami is one of the few Hunan style Chinese restaurants in Berlin, a cuisine that originates from Western China and is known for it’s spicy and hearty flavours along with cooking techniques like stewing, frying, smoking and braising. I don’t have to spend many words on the Yami Yami venue, it’s not ugly but it’s really not pretty either. The whole thing has been equipped with massive, dark Chinese furniture that is also shiny in a weird way. In comparison to other, Chinese restaurants in Berlin they’ve done a nice job though and in the end, a visit to Yami Yami is not about the venue, but all about the food.
They are ridiculous and some of the best Chinese aubergines you can get in town.
When it comes to the food there is one thing to consider from the get go, there are two menus at Yami Yami and you should ask for the authentic, Chinese Hunan menu. The other one is the white-person-you-don’t-know-what-chinese-food-is menu and if you’re looking for sweet and sour chicken, this is where you will find it. If you however are down for some spicy Hunan cooking, which the chef is famous for, then you should stick to the authentic menu. Getting the menu (only in German by the way) might be tricky and sometimes you have to be a bit persistent, but it’s all worth the effort.
The setup of the menu is classic Chinese with several cold starters, soups, meats and tofu dishes and plenty of vegetables. If you are a larger group, I would really go all in and sample dishes from every section of the menu. From the cold starters I can very much recommend the crispy and fresh cucumbers. From the mains I would recommend focusing on Hunan dishes, one good example is the smoked pork belly with chili and green beans where the deep fried, rich pork pairs epically well with the spices and crispy broad beans. Another highlight is the cabbage with chili, a brilliant dish that shines by its simplicity and where massive chili chunks flavour the perfectly cooked and seasoned Chinese cabbage. The same goes for the fish, there’s steamed Loup de Mer with ginger and soy which is light, delicious and a perfect compliment to the fattier meat dishes. The Mapo Tofu (with minced meat and chilis) is also very good, I would say slightly inferior to what you can get at Tian Fu and Asia Deli, but still very solid. Last, but not least, it would be a sin to leave Yami Yami without trying the extraordinary braised aubergines with minced meat. They are ridiculous and some of the best Chinese aubergines you can get in town.
Don’t forget to order some seafood and veggies along with your meat
The food at Yami Yami is great but also not perfect, the meat dishes are once in a while unnecessary fatty and rich and the veggies not spot on crisp, something which is the essence of a skilled, Chinese chef. Therefore a balance in your dish selection is imperative, so don’t forget to order some seafood and veggies along your meat The negatives do however in no way overshadow the positives and you’re for a great meal.
The staff at Yami Yami is friendly and forthcoming, nothing extraordinary and don’t expect service heaven, but if you come and order the Hunan food they will be excited and more than happy to explain the food and the menu to you. Yami Yami is a great addition to the selection of authentic, Chinese restaurants and Schöneberg is a district that’s really developing into a second, mayor location for great Chinese restaurants away from Kantstrasse. Just a couple of blocks away you’ll find Da Jia Le, another one of my Chinese favourites. Yami Yami has quickly become a favourite and a restaurant that goes straight into my top 5 of Berlin Chinese restaurants.