As concepts go, German / Asian doesn’t particularly evoke feelings of familiarity. But it’s actually a 100 year old culinary tradition that local restaurateur, Michael Naessens, is bringing to Old City (206-208 Market St.). Yesterday, The Insider reported on the opening, still about six month away. But Grub Street needed more, so we got on the horn and talked to Naessens, the owner of two other Old City locations (Eulogy and Beneluxx) about what inspired this brainchild of his.
While Naessens time tested expertise is grounded firmly in Belgium, its German neighbor to the East had historic ties to Asia, giving him the perfect opportunity to try something new.
Naessens gave us the history of this culinary fusion. Way back when, in the German-controlled Chinese port of Tsingtau, Asian natives influenced its German occupiers’ cuisine, bringing local flavors and seafood into the predominately Germanic menus.
It’s these flavors, techniques and ingredients that has Naessens excited.
“I don’t want to get stuck in the traditional German format,” he said. “Fifty percent of food sales at Eulogy are mussels and fish and chips. I knew that this Asian food would have a seafood aspect.”
And with a kitchen three times the size of that at Eulogy with a 20 ft. line, 20 burners, 2 salamanders, 4 fryers, a nice range and woks galore, Naessens looks forward to putting out some new interpretations.
When we asked about some specifics, he told us about a few ideas he was “toying with,” like ground pork in a dumpling instead of a sausage, dumpling mixes in a sausage casing and an Asian spatzle with pork and sesame.
“People think your crazy to do German food, I guess you’d have to be,” he said, recognizing the lackluster reviews that German food seems to earn in this city. But “the menu is going to morph,” he continued. After he opens, if he finds the German items aren’t moving, or vise versa, he plans to change it up, letting the menu be dictated by the wants of the guests.
Over the coming months, Naessens will be seeking out the European side of his kitchen staff, and finalizing menus. He’s also brainstorming about a possible preview during Octoberfest..