Selig is a Chinese Hunan style restaurant in Berlin that falls out of the framework of Chinese eating we’re used to. Because while the food at Selig is still very authentic and traditional, this place is just way hipper than any of the old school Chinese eateries in Berlin.
Selig is located on Kantstraße in the West Berlin district Charlottenburg, right between the myriad of great, Asian restaurants that define this little “Asia Town” of Berlin. Most of the relevant Chinese restaurants on Kantstraße (Good Friends, Aroma, Lon Mens etc.) are very traditional and old school and Selig stands out from these by taking on the role as the new, cool kid on the block. Forget bright lights and furniture from the 90’s, Selig is located in a spacious venue that’s stretches around a huge bar and where you will be served by waitresses dressed in classy jeans shirt uniforms. Food is not served on classic shiny-white bowls that you’ll find in every, Berlin Chinese joint but on cool Japanese ceramics.
“…and Selig stands out from these by taking on the role as the new, cool kid on the block.”
The thing I love the most about Selig though is that the relative hipness of the venue doesn’t reflect on the menu. The food at Selig is traditional, no-fuss Hunan, the South-West Chinese style famous for its abundant use of chili and Sichuan pepper. Take the chicken dish called “Scharfe Geschosse”, which essentially is chicken fried with an enormous amount of chili peppers, where the perfectly crunchy and juicy chicken is supercharged with the mild spice from the chili (don’t eat them btw) and leaves your tongue with that tingling sensation. Amazing. Another massively tasty dish is the “Räuber von Hunan” beef dish where juicy strips of beef are stir fried with an exorbitant amount of chili. But my favourite beef dish is the “Gebratene Reisbandnudeln” where broad rice noodles are married with this insanely tasty and thick beef sauce that’s just layered with explosions of umami. A dish by nature so satisfying and comforting that you’ll be happy to eat only this when you come to Selig.
“A dish by nature so satisfying and comforting that you’ll be happy to eat only this when you come to Selig.”
The thing that truly elevates the food at Selig though are the hand-pulled noodle dishes. They have one chef who masters the ancient Chinese art of making noodles by hand and they are served in dishes like the beef noodle soups. A must if you’re here, these Chinese noodles count to the best you can get in Berlin and supercharge any dish to unknown heights.
In classic Chinese restaurant style, not everything at Selig is great. The pork dishes I’ve had were average and so were the cold Sichuan style noodles I was so much looking forward to. They also tend to “over-pork” all their vegetable dishes and a tip is to order vegetable without the indicated meat. Do that and you’re in for some amazing green beans and water spinach dishes. The Dim Sum is unfortunately also quite average. Guess you can never have it all.
“Selig hits the sweet spot and does not only deliver some of the spiciest Chinese food in Berlin but also some of the tastiest.”
In the end Selig is a pretty great Chinese restaurant that has captured a piece of my heart. The combination of a modern vibe with traditional, Chinese food is extremely appealing to me, especially compared to very hip Chinese eateries like Long March Canteen where the food is not traditional or great at all. In a way Selig is an answer to something I’ve been waiting to manifest for a decade, and that’s the rise of the next generation of Berlin Chinese restaurateurs who move awaye from the stigma of boring Berlin Chinese restaurants while paying uttermost respect to the amazing food traditions of China. Selig hits the sweet spot and does not only deliver some of the spiciest Chinese food in Berlin but also some of the tastiest.