Food in Berlin: Papaya

Papaya salad and iced tea.

Some people call the Kantstraße the Chinatown of Berlin, which is basically a ridiculous exaggeration. If at all, it could be called Asia-town, or maybe Asia-street, which makes no sense and should thus be dismissed. Still, most of Berlin’s prolific Asian restaurants and shops are to be found on this street, and this very blog is in fact working hard on compiling reviews on all the worthwhile joints, until now led by our favorites Dao and Aroma. So I was very happy to follow a recommendation for Papaya.

Papaya is a group of restaurant with locations in Friedrichshain and Schöneberg with the one on Kantstraße being the latest addition. The interior is always quite simple but clean and mostly without the use of cheesy folklore decorations. The specialty of this location are three pages in the menu featuring authentic Isaan dishes. Isaan is a region in Northern Thailand, famous for its strong connections with Laos, its extensive silk productions and its very, and I repeat, very spicy food.

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Papaya boasts a policy of authentic spiciness, foregoing the usual concern for European sensitivity when it comes to chilis. From my own perspective the dishes where quite hot, verging on the edge to being inedible for me, but I will have to return with someone who seems to have conquered all experience of chili-pain to give the authenticity a real test.

Since there’s more to flavor than chili (at least for me), I proceed to judge the rest and can only say I was very happy with it. Although the written menu does not offer much for the vegetarian guest, it was no problem to exchange the chicken in the special of the day for a very fine tofu served in curry sauce with fresh egg noodles. My lunch partner was equally pleased by his duck dish, although we both agreed that Dao is still a bit better when it comes to complex flavors. But then Dao has a huge menu written in Thai-only, forcing you to either bring a Thai-speaking friend or stick to the known. At Papaya nothing keeps you from ordering fried chicken rumps or Isaan head cheese.

We didn’t go down that road, but I’d be happy to hear about your experience in case you feel like it. A special for me was to enjoy a Thai iced tea with my lunch, fancily decorated and tart-sweet. I seriously liked and also seriously recommend it to add it to your list of Kantstraßen-favorits.

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Papaya
Kantstraße 122
10625 Berlin Charlottenburg

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Subway: Wilmersdorfer Straße
+49 30 3199757
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Opening Hours:
daily 12:00–23:00

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  1. Kavita Meelu on

    Reply

    Glad you enjoyed it!! lets go back there soon XX

  2. Arteyu Berlin on

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    The food at papaya is just bad and overpriced. I had the Pad Thai and the green tofu curry. I would have paid 2,50 at a metro station snack shop for the same quality of a meal. As much as I appreciate your blog, please reconsider your reccomendations.

  3. Zoe on

    Reply

    Mary this is our favourite Thai place! Can I ask what dishes you had that were hot? James LOVES his mouth to be burnt off so I’ll tell him to go for this next time ;)

  4. Luisa on

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    Thank you so much for the tip! Have passed it several times, didn’t realize it was anything special.

  5. Tammy on

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    Mary, may I correct certain information? Isaan is actually the northeastern region of Thailand, not northern ;-) Isaan people do like eating spicy food. Southern Thai food is also incredibly spicy and consisted of more spices. However, it is not as popular as Isaan food. At Dao, they also have some southern Thai dishes. You can ask them which ones, in case you wanna try something new :-)

  6. Tinka on

    Reply

    Had lunch there today, your mouthwatering pics made me curious. I had noodle with chicken and green curry, it was good, coco was creamy and just a tad bit tingly in the mouth, at a comfy level. But 6,90 was a bit too much. However, after finishing I wanted to say, Baby give it to me one more time. I was still a bit hungry. The dish du jour seemed to have been the papaya salad, it was on everybodies table, however, i was the only Western face in there. Next i want to try Dao.
    I like the sleek interior and what must be the cleanest restrooms in all of Berlin.

  7. Frank on

    Reply

    It’s annoying to hear everybody crying out for more spicy taste. The grade of spicyness, you’re talking about, benumbs everything. You have to tell me, how would you be able to taste all the ingredients when all of your tastebuds suspend their activity…

    1. Mary Scherpe on

      I guess it’s just a matter of training – and sometimes taste exceeds spice, I remember this one seriously spicy dish at The Mission Chinese in San Francisco, I couldn’t eat it all because my mouth burned from the pain, still (weirdly) I loved the taste, it somehow, magically maybe, managed to get through

  8. June Keser on

    Reply

    Hi Mary,

    Isaan is not the North part of Thailand but the North Eastern. Apart from that, as a Thai and a food lover, I enjoy Papaya very much and visit it often like 2-3 times a week. All the dishes are authentic and the price is very good. They always use good and authentic ingredient and without substitutes like many other restaurants do. Dao used to be one of my favourites but they have been using substitutes in order to reduce costs which make the food less authentic.

    Apart from Issan menu it also offers Northern and Southern dishes from time to time. After a year I’ve tried each and every dish on the menu and I can tell, most of them are as good as what you have in Thailand.

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