Thai cuisine has come a long way in Berlin, but finally we’ve come to a notable (historical, even) point in time: No more mediocre Pad Thais and watery curries! Thanks to the three new restaurants Khwan, Khao Taan & Kin Dee, there is at last an adequate Thai scene representing exquisite flavors and a beautiful heritage of spices and ingredients in Berlin.
The “Holy Trinity of Thai” opens with the casual BBQ joint Khwan. Unfortunately located in the wild boondocks of Berlin – aka Friedrichshain, aka RAW Gelände – Khwan have perfected the Northern Style Thai Barbecue. Their spicy Som Tam and the Northern Style fried fish, as well as the fried chicken, are fiery and spicy and glorious. The wood fired pit certainly leaves its smoky flavors, which can be a bit off-putting at times. Thankfully, the Khwan kitchen knows how to balance between smoke and lighter elements.
Khwans wonderful terrace is perfect for a summer evening meal with friends. Order the full bouquet menu for 4 pax to explore the whole range of the menu, and order the Papaya Salad (Som Tam) with a maximum of 2 chilies. Also: go early to avoid the Warschauer Straße crowd at sunset. Thank me later.
What is it about Thai food and Friedrichshain? Like Khwan, Khao Taan has settled across The Narrow See, although far away from the terrors of Warschauer Straße. Hidden in a pittoreske alley off of Wühlisch, Khao Taan is a small and delicate bistro with a set dinner menu. Here, too, dishes are to share.
The delicate meals are authentic, but Khao Taan dares to go beyond the traditional versions of dishes and flavors. A favorite of mine was the corn Som Tam, although I have no complaints about the beef curry or the excellently steamed fish either. A very unexpected highlight turned out to be the dessert: a water-chestnut pudding, so exciting in texture, color and taste, that I’d return to Khao Taan for it only. What shouldn’t have surprised me at all was the level of spiciness. Thankfully, the carefully handpicked wines helped soothe the worst of the burn. Verdict: Khao Taan is worth the journey to Friedrichshain.
Last but not least, of course, Kin Dee. Since winning a Michelin star earlier this year, chef Dalad Khambu has risen to the ranks of the best restaurateurs in Berlin, and rightly so! My first experience at Kin Dee was nothing but a delightful journey through a new, modern, refined and fresh Thailand, one that I got to experience first-hand on my travels in Bangkok and Chang Mai. Forget what you know about “true authenticity”, street food and night markets, and instead, open yourself up to a menu of great visions.
What makes Kin Dee stand out is a careful combination of “typically Thai” and “dit is so Berlin” – from the minimal interior of the restaurant (a nod to her patrons of Grill Royal & Pauly Saal fame) to the subtle use of regional produce that re-creates and then somehow enhances the flavors and memorability of traditional dishes. If Kin Dee isn’t the future of Berlins fine dining, it’s definitely pointing to it.
The 8-10 course set menu changes seasonally. Book your table now. I insist.
Where to eat (good) Pad Thai in Berlin?
Now that we’ve covered our bases when it comes to the best Thai food in Berlin, it’s also important to highlight the astounding lack of good Pad Thai in this city. Even my most reliable Thai brasserie Chan, who recently revamped their menu and their outfit to match their developing gastro neighbors at Paul Lincke Ufer, dropped the classic noodle dish to make space for other things.