Two things that make Berlin great are its multitude of green spaces and its many culinary gems. As for the latter, most dishes available are inexpensive. What’s more, many of Berlin’s cultural niches are represented through the city’s food scene. Thai Park in Wilmersdorf, for instance, offers tourists and Berliners the chance to experience all of these glorious elements at once.
The Thai Park street-food market takes place almost every day during the summer (weather permitting) in the little park technically known as Preußenpark, but the weekends are bustling. It’s so popular that anyone who does know this small patch of green on the west side of Berlin probably only knows it as Thai Park. So, how did it gain such a robust reputation?
For the past two decades, Berlin’s close-knit Thai community has congregated here to enjoy cultural delicacies, share crafts and simply enjoy each other’s company. The small green space available at Preußenpark served as their meeting point. Legend has it that word got out as hungry park visitors and passers-by asked if they could purchase some of these enticing Thai goodies. With the popularity of their wonderful food growing, Berlin’s Thai community realised their activities could become business ventures with a lot of potential.
Thai Park soon became an important fixture in this part of the city, a trademark element of summer’s commencement, and an essential component of many people’s warm-weather fun. Now, this otherwise unassuming little park comes to life each weekend with rows upon rows of colourful umbrellas, curious foodies and devout regulars.
However, despite the increased number of stands, which have risen in tandem with the number of new customers, not everything at this bustling street-food market is created equally – navigating between all the vendors requires a bit of strategy. One tip is to favour Thai street-food snacks, which naturally fair better in this context, over classic Thai items such as curry or pad thai. It’s also wise to opt for things that are made on the spot upon ordering; the freshness is worth the wait.
The many different noodle soups on offer also tend to make for excellent selections – if you can find a spot to sit and eat them. The beef and pork noodle varieties are some of the best. Try to hold out past the first few offerings, and head to the woman on the western corner of the park who takes pains to make perfectly balanced soups with a multitude of carefully chosen ingredients.
Other favourites at Thai Park are the deep-fried plantain fritters sprinkled with sesame, as well as the many scrumptious little pork dumplings encased in dough made with tapioca flour. For dessert, go with the sweet and chewy sticky rice topped with creamy coconut milk and slices of mango.
Another bonus is that most options at Thai Park are remarkably affordable, considering it doesn’t usually take long for most happening spots around the city to up their prices. Dishes typically cost about €7 (£6.40) each, meaning it’s possible to sample a couple of different things for the price of a single meal elsewhere.
All in all, Thai Park is one of the many ways that Berlin benefits from the contributions of the smorgasbord of cultural groups that reside here. The trademark event has created a line of communication between the city’s Thai community and the rest of its residents, thus offering a chance to continually celebrate the diversity that makes Germany’s capital so great.