My childhood Chinese restaurant was on a corner a long walk or a short car ride away. My parents usually found the time to cook, but on very rare and special occasions we’d get Chinese take-out. Its different flavors—sweet, spicy, umami—bewitched me and encouraged me to demand we go to Chinese restaurants for my birthdays. Soon we found a place that was better than that corner place, instead overlooking a bus station in the center of town. Up the stairs from its tiny shop front were dark and cozy tables, and the meals were enormous and hearty.
Though Do De Li here on Kantstrasse is much smaller, and lacks the glamorous view of a bus station, it did bring me right back to that childhood comfort zone, spooning up hot-and-sour soup like liquid nostalgia.
With an interior that is authentic only in the ‘authentic Chinese restaurant in Europe’ sense, you’re instantly at home, and the prices and portions are similarly friendly. Our dinner party was diverse, some had even expressed a certain dislike for Chinese food—a statement I rather carelessly swept off the table immediately; after all, he must not ever have had good Chinese food, right?
As with most blandly phrased menus on this street, it takes a bit of imagination to conjure up which dishes are going to be the tastiest, but a friend’s recommendation and a little Googling had alerted us to their noodle soups and spicy beef salad, which we paired with a milder eggplant stew, spicy garlic chicken, and various ‘salads’.
Now, don’t imagine big Caesar salads here, there’s no trace of lettuce or tomatoes, just small dishes of soft mushrooms, sliced tofu, or marinated beef, all of which for a worthy accompaniment to the massive bowls of soup we were served, little bowls of pickles, meats, and noodles we could mix in at will. The soup was, in contrast to most other Asian restaurants in Berlin, actually flavored well and strongly; no fear of spice at Do De Li!
In all, our visit was a very happy one, my previously Chinese-food-averse friend now much less so, and the modest check a welcome surprise. I went back a few days later, dying to try their mapo tofu (tasty) and have another lip-scalding bite of that spicy beef salad. Oh, and what about the hot-and-sour soup, you ask?
Just the way I like it, not too corn starchy and just the right kind of hot, perfect to scare away any and all thoughts of chilly winter months.