When it comes to restaurant-launches in Mitte these days, many of the new joints feature a way more styled interior than one is used to from the past years, when it’s been enough to create a living room-like atmosphere. A pioneer of this have always been the restaurateurs behind the Vietnamese restaurant group of Si An Trà Café, Chén Chè Tea House and Chi Sing restaurant and they’ve proven their tendency for innovative and creative interior design once again with their newest place called District Mot. It’s located in the former space of Chi Sing, which has been closed to be entirely restyled to resemble a Vietnamese street food parlor, complete with colorful plastic stools, plastic baskets with spicy sauces and toilet paper as napkin suspenders on each table. While it definitely earns points for creativity and effort, the food has received mixed reviews, tending towards the negative with some of my friends. Until I received a message from Carson Chan, in which he was beyond excited about this addition to the Mitte food scene.
He literally went there days and days in a row, sometimes having a day’s lunch as well as dinner and raved about their offerings. I generally trust his judgement, and him saying he’s kinda obsessed with their menu, especially the fermented shrimp sauce served to the pork noodles, obviously this place has more on offer than just a fancy interior. We went there on a Thursday evening and the place was quite filled. Only open for a couple of weeks, Carson told me they already replaced the low stools and tables for “normal” height ones, since not enough customers seemed to be fine with eating their food close to the ground.
The menu is exciting, to say the least. They offer the safe options like summer rolls, spring rolls and a number of Phở Bò variations with either half-done beef, well-done brisket, beef balls or a mysterious special (Ɖặc biệt) for a Euro more than the rest (9,50 Euros). But then the specials take over, with grilled chicken feet being one of the more common ones. The menu mainly features small dishes around 5 Euros with such delicacies as stir fried frog with lemongrass and red pepper, eel stewed in coconut milk with glass noodles and mushroom, deep fried pork legs or deep-fried silkworm with butter. The latter was still too much for Carson though, if one of you ever tries it, don’t forget to send me a review!
And then there are the dishes for more than one person, like the whole steamed chicken with beer and rice congee soup (25 Euros), or the fish hot pot, served with loads of greens and very fresh looking fish pieces. One will certainly need more than one visit to pay the whole menu tribute, but we tried at least by ordering several of the small dishes, with me sticking with the vegetarian options like a very nice and fresh sour mango salad, the summer rolls and fried rice paper with egg. While the summer rolls were not very outstanding, the salad and the rice paper were surprising in taste and crunch and I can certainly recommend both. Carson went for the frog, already a favorite of his, and the beef in vine leafs.
District Mot aims high in terms of authenticity and being regardless of any food-conventions Asian food has suffered from too long in Europe. And I highly appreciate that and think it should be rewarded. There are still some struggles, like inconsistencies in the service. The menu could surely use some more guidance from the waiters. The more familiar Vietnamese dishes don’t necessarily exceed (but also don’t fail) the quality of other joints, and the desserts we chose of the very vast dessert menu were not our taste. Nevertheless, you should go and try it yourself, and if it’s only to finally cross frog or silk worms off your to-eat-list.