Plenty of words have been written about Thai Park (also on this blog). That otherwise unremarkable park south west of Berlin’s center turns into a busy Thai market every weekend with a plethora of Thai families cooking and selling specialities on the spot. It’s been around for more than a decade, growing in size and popularity every summer, reaching an extent that some might already call problematic, with hundreds of eaters crowding the lawn, and many more vendors joining the pathways. However, it’s still delicious and one of the prime spots in Berlin to enjoy Thai food, when done right.
While four years ago, the whole thing was a rather relaxed affair with about 15 stands offering everything from Som Tam to deep fried pork belly and many a gambling spot, Thai Park today feels more like a crowded food festival. The number of stalls easily tripled, forming about five rows on the dusty grounds, with not only Thai, but also Vietnamese and even Brazil vendors joining the fun serving Caipirinhas, massages and bubble gum. During peak times (weekends from around 2pm), long lines form in front of some. But how does the old saying go? Lines create more lines, so a line is not necessarily saying much about the quality of food.
Thai park food has always been up and down in quality, with some cooks putting in more effort than others. I usually stay away from that overly bright colored dumplings and go for the ones more natural in tone. When it comes to iced tea, we have our favorite, she’s always wearing an expressive hat and has her stall on the first lane facing the inside of the park (there’s just no way to give you an accurate description of her location, sorry). Same goes for the one thing I tend to eat the most of: fried sweet plantain with sesame that I always get at the same stand, a couple down from the iced tea lady. First thing I look out for, as well, is the sticky rice with mango, oddly, there’s always only a few packages on offer, so be quick to snatch yours. I’ve never had a good soup at Thai Park, but experiences might differ.
Most important advice is certainly to come early if you want to avoid the crowds (and lines), and bring with an open mind. Being experimental first – these days, they even sell fried insects – and then return for your favorites, and obviously, bring loads of friends so you can share the fun.
Update, Major hack coming up, as recommended in the comments – since the market uses only plastic dishes, cups and bowls, why not bring your own to avoid creating a mess?