Mr. Susan is a German-American-Korean cooking duo and one of the most famous Berlin street food vendors. In the wake of their massive success they are now gearing up for the next episode in their culinary journey, which is the much anticipated opening of their very own Berlin restaurant.
Meet Susan Choi and Stefan Endres, the people behind Mr. Susan, and also one of Berlin’s most prolific street food vendors who in the last years have built themselves a solid fan base within the city’s food scene. As true ambassadors of quality consumption, Mr. Susan are also the driving force behind the extraordinarily successful Schlachtfest events at Markthalle Neun, a nose-to-tail eating event focused on promoting awareness around high quality meat. All of this activities are merely one long rehearsal within Mr. Susan’s master plan though, a plan that culminates in the opening of their very own restaurant in Berlin. That’s why they have started hosting bi-weekly pop up dinner events at Roberta’s in Prenzlauer Berg where they showcase the true width of their culinary repertoire and give guests an unique glimpse of what the Mr. Susan restaurant will taste and feel like.
With no formal, culinary background these guys were certainly not destined to end up behind the stove
I have had the privilege to follow Mr. Susan’s food journey in the last year and their story is as remarkable as it is defining for their culinary coming of age. Susan, who was originally born in Germany, grew up in the U.S. with her Korean parents and spent the bulk of her life between East L.A. and New York where she was exposed to a large variety of different cuisines. When she eventually moved to Berlin, she found Allgäu man Stefan behind the bar at Würgeengel, her future partner in cooking, crime and love. Stefan grew up in Southern Germany with his mum where from an early age had to learn how to cook for himself. With no formal, culinary background these guys were certainly not destined to end up behind the stove, Susan has her background within marketing and Stefan graduated as an Energy Engineer. But both Susan and Stefan grew up in families where attention focused around quality food and proper cooking and where mothers and grandmothers played a large role in passing on that quality thinking.
The idea for Mr. Susan was born during their first Berlin summer when Stefan cooked up an orange sauce, which was so damn delicious, that his new mother in law told him to find a way to cook for a living. This was right about when Street Food Thursday started, the city’s first mayor street food market, and Mr. Susan were one of the first vendors to join the market and after a couple of semi-successful tries, they hit a home run with their Ramen soup. After that it’s all been one success story.
Eating a plate feels like getting a warm hug from a smiling, Korean grandmother.
Mr. Susan cook “Neo-North-American-Korean” comfort food with a lot of soul. And boy, do they do it well. Find them at one of the street food events and they might serve you a kimchi meatball sub, a perfect example of a Mr. Susan dish where the juicy meatballs bathe in a Korean inspired tomato sauce and kimchi before they are stacked in a sandwich. Same goes for their Reuben sandwich, another Mr. Susan street food hero whose main ingredient Korean flavoured Pastrami is so damn delicious, that it made me question whether I ever again should eat regular pastrami. At The Breakfast Market they will warm your bones with their rice congee, a dish where the salty, crunchy and juicy condiments like Kimchi and pulled pork will balance the rice porridge so perfectly that eating a plate feels like getting a warm hug from a smiling, Korean grandmother.
If you attend one of their restaurant pop up nights, you will be exposed to the same flavour profiles, but in a slightly more refined format. Susan and Stefan love (really, really love) oysters and at their pop ups you can might get them raw with a stellar dollop of kimchi or deep fried in the most amazing Po Boy sandwich. You might also get a dish like the Korean Fried Chicken, where chicken thighs are deep-fried to perfection and tossed in a spicy, Korean oil. Best fried chicken I’ve had in Berlin? YES! Or why not one of my favourites, a dish that symbolizes the vast potential of this charismatic duo. Beef heart and foe gras tartar, a dish that in theory might not sound appealing, but which upon consumption literally melts in your mouth in a cascade of mellow flavours and where the perfect texture leaves you strangely satisfied. At their restaurant you can expect all of these things merged into one concept, where you will be able to enjoy everything from bar snacks to extensive meals.
I dare to say that no one does it better than Mr. Susan.
Mr. Susan are very inspired by modern culinary trends from North America, where cuisines and cooking techniques from many cultures are combined into creative and delicious menus, where chefs excel at taking ingredients and flavours from one culture and seamlessly integrating them into another. There are several chefs who are trying this in Berlin but I dare to say that no one does it better than Mr. Susan. That doesn’t mean they are flawless, they are in fact only at the beginning of their culinary journey. I’ve witnessed their development, seen them mess up early stage street food markets, watched them drown during the service of their first pop up and serve very mediocre food. But I’ve also seen them rise and come back stronger every single time, seen them get better and more professional from service to service. This is why I’m massively excited about their new restaurant, if they achieve this in only two years, where will they be in another two? And where will they be in five?
Mr. Susan is one of those culinary success stories I always hoped Berlin would deliver, where the influx of half a million of creative kids from all around the world would produce unique destination restaurants with very simple but yet extraordinary food, all based on ingredients that have been sourced with the proper quality approach. Not to mention the fact that they both are ridiculously friendly with a fantastic mentality dedicated to pleasing every single guest. Mr. Susan shows that there is hope and I literally can’t wait for my first meal at their restaurant. Where the eternally smiling Susan and Stefan greet you from the kitchen and the moment you sit down for your meal you just know it’s going to be a great evening.