Just as Chinese food in America has been greatly homogenized, so has Thai food in Germany. Despite a sizeable Asian population in Berlin, few restaurants do their respective populations right. People seeking authentic cuisine often come away with complaints of lack-luster dishes with too sweet sauces.
But Berlin is not just the home of döner kebab and currywurst (as delicious as they are), it has a flair for international street food with Street Food Thursdays and Bite Club. And this market, now known as Thai Park, has offerings that are the most authentic, least expensive and best tasting in all of the city.
History of Thai Park
Hardly a new thing, the local Thai population has been meeting in Preußenpark for around 20 years. Called die Thaiwiese (Thai-Meadow) by locals, newcomers have really started to catch on in recent years. Originally an informal meet-up for sharing food, language and culture, other expats eventually joined in and a food-sharing market was established.
Every fair weather weekend, Thais, Filipinos, Vietnamese and Chinese put up rainbow colored umbrellas over blankets, open their coolers and heat up their saucepans. With these simple appliances they produce amazing small plates worthy of a place on Berlin's best restaurant roster.
Ordering at Thai Park
I wasn't sure if my inexperience with Thai food would hinder my ordering. I usually need a full description and there are no menus here. But ordering at Thai Park was easy.
Most stands only prepare a dish or two so you can figure out what they offer by watching what others order. Some enterprising souls even put out a display plate so you can investigate. If your German isn't passable, no one bats an eye at the point and say "Bitte" method. One of the best parts is that meals are around 5 euro with nary a plate breaching the 10 euro mark.
Foods Available at Thai Park
Depending on the day, the breadth of dishes at Thai park can be overwhelming. A sample:
- Som Tam - Papaya Salad
- Spring & Summer rolls
- Deep-fried banana
- Chicken skewers
- Sticky buns
- Shaved ice with tapioca, rose syrup, condensed milk
- Fried whole fish
- Sticky rice with mango and coconut sauce
To pair with these satisfying treats, there are a selection of drinks. Fresh fruit juice, Thai iced tea and smoothies cool a spicy tongue, while cocktails, local and Thai beers make it a party.
After some small bites, I settled on an unnamed soup, full of noodles, green onion, something fried and meat that looked like Chinese BBQ Pork. It was delicious. I would bathe in that broth. Weeks later, my husband and I still look at each other and make the Homer Simpson drool face at its mention. This is food that transcends language barriers.
Tips for visiting Thai Park
The authorities haven't embraced it as eagerly as the public. A sign at the entrance of the park states no cooking of foods is permitted. However, on my visit business was conducted openly and there was an effort to keep the park clean with trashcans and plate collector.
Another note to remember is that there are no established seats so you should be comfortable on the grass or bring a blanket or chair. Some stands have upturned crates for clients. There is also little protection from the elements so on days with poor weather the vendors aren't likely to show.
If you visit on the weekend and want to make a day of it, round out your visit with a trip to the nearby Flohmarkt (flea market) on Fehrbelliner Platz.
Address: Preußen park, Brandenburgische Str. 10707 Berlin
Directions: S-Bahn Charlottenburg / U7 Konstanzer str.
Opening times: Best on Saturdays and Sundays in summer, although the market can continue into fall and spring - weather permitting. There isn't a formal opening time, but visitors can expect most stalls to be open from noon til 18:00.