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  • Scharf alert: Berlin’s best Thai food


Scharf alert: Berlin’s best Thai food

Where do I find Berlin's best Thai food? Authentic Thai that is actually spicy? Our food editor Jane Silver knows.

Photo: .instagram.com/tossakanberlin

You already know about Thai Park. But beyond that magical, fish sauce-perfumed meadow, there’s a whole universe of Thai cuisine to be found in Berlin. Think boat noodles and Isaan grilled chicken, Michelin-starred curry and vegan khao soi. Here are our favourite places for a great – and, often, uncompromisingly spicy – Thai meal.

A little bit of everything: Thai Park

Thai Park in 2018: still the best place for a Pad Thai in the sun. Photo: Imago/Travel-Stock-Image

It’s perhaps our city’s most beloved street food tradition, a weekly picnic by and for Thai West Berliners that operated for years as a quasi-legal bazaar before growing too huge for the city to ignore. Now it’s a proper market, with up to 60 vendors selling noodle soup, papaya salad, fried fish, pork floss crepes, mango sticky rice and all manner of other Thai (and Chinese, and Korean, and Vietnamese) delicacies. Through it all, the concept has remained the same: show up at Preußenpark in Wilmersdorf on a summer weekend, queue up for as many dishes as you can eat, scout out the most alive-looking patch of grass on which to devour your bounty, repeat. The prices may be higher and the queues longer than in the past, but it’s not all bad news. For one thing, the park’s notorious trash problem is getting better thanks to a deposit system on reusable plates and bowls (and discounts for patrons who bring their own). And posted menus at each stand mean vegetarians and vegans can order with impunity, though those with allergies should still be on the lookout for the errant peanut or dash of fish sauce.

  • Preußenpark, Wilmersdorf, Apr-Oct, Fri-Sun 10-22

Do it yourself: Dao by Meo

Photo: instagram.com/daobymeo

Open since 2010, chef Prattina Kross’ Kantstraße restaurant is one of the oldest on this list, and still a reliable destination for slow-cooked curries, handmade from scratch with ingredients imported straight from Thailand. Those with five hours and €100 to spare can learn her secrets at the upstairs cooking school. 

Spice with a purpose: Larb Koi

Photo: instagram.com/larbkoi2020

Can’t handle the heat? Then get out of Monay Keawmali’s kitchen. At his deceptively Imbiss-like outpost in Friedrichshain, the former Khwan head chef prepares his dishes the Thai way, with few if any concessions made to German tongues. Order an iced tea with grass jelly and settle in for a knockout meal of fiery seafood curries and pork neck stir-fries, giant oysters with chili sauce, zingy papaya salads and the crispiest fried sea bass you’ve ever had.

  • Krossener Str. 15, Tue 18-23, Wed-Sat 12-15, 18-23, Sun 15-22

Fun for the family: Khao Taan

Photo: instagram.com/khaotaanberlin

A warm, minimalist dining space on Friedrichshain’s Altbau-lined Gryphiusstraße. Blue paint on the right, bare brick on the left, a concise natural wine selection. So far, so trendy. But what comes out of Gaan Woraphon Kitkoson’s kitchen is something more timeless: Thai cuisine, just like his grandma used to make. For €39 a head, guests get one seven-course meal for the entire table – you can choose your own soup and dessert, but for everything else you and your dining companions have to agree on one of two options. Which can be tricky, with such delectable salads, curries and chilli dips to choose from. We can vouch for the mixed corn salad, the full-bodied Massaman curry, or the steamed fish whose delicate texture belies its serious heat. 

  • Gryphiusstraße 10, Friedrichshain, Tue-Sat 18–23 (kitchen till 22), www.khaotaan.com

The farang gang: Khun Xyu Ban and Khao Soi Berlin at Arkaoda

Photo: instagram.com/khao_soi_berlin

Of all the food pop-ups to appear at Rixdorf bar/venue/kitchen Arkaoda since the start of the pandemic, it’s the Thai ones – both run by non-Thais – that have been the most sought-after. One-woman operation Khao Soi Berlin will be there every weekend this summer, serving chicken and tofu versions of the soupy, coconutty, crispy-noodle-topped Chiang Mai dish. More sporadically, keep an eye out for dinners by Khun Xyu Ban, the former delivery enterprise that won over locked-down Prenzlauer Berg and Neukölln residents with faithful renditions of sour orange mackerel curry, braised lamb shank and much more.

  • Karl Marx Platz 16-18, Neukölln, Khao Soi: Thu 18-22, Fri-Sat 18-21:30; Kun Xyu Ban: check Instagram for next dates

Smoke and spice: Khwan

Photo: instagram.com/khwanberlin

One of the city’s most hyped restaurants when it opened in 2017, this BBQ-centric venture has seen its share of ups and downs over the years, and now appears to be leaning heavily on club nights and vegan brunches to survive. But new grillmistress Thanita Preedakiat is still keeping the embers glowing, with old favourites like gai yang (Isaan grilled chicken) and oysters with chilli jam joined by intriguing new options like khao soi, nam tok (a traditionally meaty salad, here made with mushrooms or smoked duck), and lemongrass-marinated pork neck. 

  • Revaler Str. 99, Friedrichshain, Wed 18-22, Thu 18-24, Fri-Sat 18-open end, Sunday brunch 12-18

Thai fine dining: Kin Dee

Photo: instagram.com/kindeeberlin

Combining Thai flavours and techniques with local produce, Bangkok-raised chef Dalad Kambhu won the Berlin culinary crowd over at first bite, parlaying a successful pop-up into an internationally acclaimed restaurant in the space of a year and a half. Michelin came calling shortly after, anointing Kin Dee with a star in 2019. While it took a while for the food itself to catch up to all the accolades, we’d say Kambhu’s explosive chilli pastes, innovative preparations and premium ingredients (Odefey & Töchter chicken, Roddie Sloan clams) are now more than deserving of that plaque on the wall – and your €79.

Lunching with heart: Panda Noodle

Photo: instagram.com/thepandanoodle

Decked out like a self-aware version of the Dong Xuan Center, Daeng Khamlao’s corner eatery is a riot of colours and flavours. Alongside Sichuan-style dan dan noodles and the occasional bowl of Japanese ramen, she and her crew prepare Thai lunch specials that rotate according to whim, ingredient availability and customer demand. One week there might be tender poached chicken over rice, the next a fluffy omelette or a bowl of hand-pounded massaman curry. The shop also serves as an informal HQ for the BIPoC food collective Smells Like and a location for Korean and Malaysian pop-ups – check its always-active Instagram for details.

Feast from the Northeast: Papaya

Photo: instagram.com/papaya.berlin

The food of Thailand’s Isaan region is a culinary category unto itself: spicy, tangy, fishy and endlessly craveable. And the restaurant in Berlin that does it the most justice can be found on Kantstraße (yes, there are other Papayas, but they’re not as good). Fermented pork sausage, papaya salad with salted crab, hotpot-style stews with beef innards or bamboo – it’s all here, and best ordered with copious amounts of sticky rice to soothe the burn.

  • Kantstraße 122, Charlottenburg, daily 12-22, www.papaya-service.de

Street food cafeteria: Samakki Talad Thai

Just off Kantstraße, this Charlottenburg standby is actually multiple restaurants in one, with canteen-like stations offering curries and meats, noodles, Isaan specialties and desserts to be ordered as your fancy strikes. Prices have risen from the original €5/dish, as they must, but you’ll still get great value for money. Try the killer papaya salad before moving on to nam tok salad, boat noodles, fried pork belly or pad krapao, and pick up a box of mango sticky rice if you see it on your way out.

Noodle queen: Thai Art

Photo: instagram.com/berlinfoodexplosion/

Before Thai Park went legal, Siliya Rothert – better known as the “soup lady” – was its breakout star. You could recognise the Sukothai-born chef from her picnic blanket covered in plastic tubs of all shapes and sizes. From this sprawling mise en place, she assembled bowl after bowl of pork tom yum, a marvellously sweet-sour-spicy rice noodle soup with an epic ingredient list. These days you’ll find her selling that same soup on Kantstraße, along with Berlin’s funkiest boat noodles (beef or pork in a near-opaque broth fortified with fermented bean curd) and perfect Pad Thai. Those who go snooping around her first brick-and-mortar location on Berliner Straße, meanwhile, will encounter B&P By Krua Mae Uthai, a new enterprise serving curries, larb and some scrumptious-looking baked goods.

  • Kantstraße 57, Charlottenburg, Mon–Sat 11-21

Devilishly good: Tossakan

Photo: instagram.com/tossakanberlin

In Thai lore, Tossakan is the demon king, a wicked creature with a tragic backstory. The career of Tanadon Santanaviboon also began in tragedy – he moved to Berlin with his father, also a chef, who died shortly afterwards – but the Thai home cooking at his restaurant, recently moved from City West to Prenzlauer Berg, is anything but evil. Try the fish patties, the pork ribs, the blue crab in yellow curry if it’s on special. Bring a group, wear clothes you don’t mind getting stained, and be aware that spicy means spicy – order menu items designated with more than one chilli pepper at your own risk.

  • Schliemannstr. 16, Prenzlauer Berg, Sun–Thu 12–22, Fri-Sat 12–23, online