This is the Best Thai Food Outside of Thailand

I’ve left pieces of my heart in many places around the world: New York, Paris, Stockholm, and Hong Kong to name a few. But no place has a bigger piece than Thailand. It was my home for a long time (and in many ways still is). No amount of time there is long enough, and any amount of time away is too long. Whenever I miss it, I head to a Thai restaurant, shock the staff by speaking Thai, enjoy a quick conversation with them, and eat my weight in food.

But I always leave disappointed.

Even the best dishes at the most authentic restaurants are never as good as in Thailand. The food only temporarily fills a hole in my heart. I walk away satiated but never satisfied. It only makes me miss Thailand more.

But then I came to Berlin, and my world changed.

A few months ago, my friend Jodi found delicious soup at a Thai weekend market in Berlin and proclaimed it the best she’d had outside of Thailand. I stared at the photo of her red pork noodle soup. I was in shock. Despite my years of searching, I’ve never found it outside Thailand.

So while in Berlin two weeks ago, I found myself at that market for lunch. I was like a moth to the flame, except my fire came in the form of soup. As I approached the park and saw colorful umbrellas shooting from ground with the scent of cooking food emanating from beneath them, my walk turned into a sprint. My expectations were high—the online reviews of this market vouched for its authenticity, and the pictures made it seem like the real deal. Could I really have found Thai street food in a park in Berlin?

I roamed the market, spotting vendors crouched down on mats, cooking on camping stoves, mashing chilies, and shouting in Thai back and forth to each other. It sure felt like the real thing, but what about the taste? Would it be real? I spotted a soup lady and, walking over, I saw it in all its glory:

There it was—Kuay Tiew Moo Dang. Red pork noodle soup.

My heart welled up with joy. Because of how the broth sits out collecting flavor for hours, you can’t find this soup outside of Thailand. Food safety laws in Western countries don’t allow it. But there it was. Here in this park, German officials looked the other way as women crushed up chilies to make Som Tam without wearing any gloves, vendors poured authentic Thai iced tea, pad kra pao gai (spicy chicken and basil) was prepared as in Thailand (minced up and quickly fried), and soup was cooked the way it should be. There was no refrigeration, no sink to clean the utensils.

I ordered the soup, sat down to eat on the grass, and was transported home. The sweet and spicy flavor of the broth, the red pork, the texture of the noodles, and the crunch of the rind were all as perfect as they could be.

When I was done, all that popped into my mind was “more.”

I roamed the market, weaving in between rows and around vendors, and ate like a king. I dived into spicy (yet so sweet) Som Tam that made my mouth burn, ate sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves (licked my fingers clean), and made multiple trips to the woman who sold Thai iced tea. “Back again?” she’d ask.

“Yes!” I said with a smile as I drank half the cup in one gulp. Closing my eyes, I remembered all the hot Bangkok days this drink cooled me down on.

Everything about the market brought back home—from the way the food was cooked, to the little bags takeout orders were put in, to the style of spoon, and even the little step stools, so popular throughout Southeast Asia, that you sit on while you eat.

This place is as close to Thailand as you can get without actually going there.

The next day I went back with a group of friends, ordered a bunch of dishes, and ate family-style. It was too good not to go back again. If the market was open every day, I’d be there, my face buried in some Thai dish, but, sadly, it’s only open on the weekend.

Berlin has a lot going for it—cool hipsters, food, music, and art. And now it has something nowhere else outside Thailand has—authentic Thai food. This is the best Thai food I’ve found outside of Thailand. Don’t miss this if you’re in Berlin and love Thai food. Berlin will now be the hub of my future travels through Europe so I can gorge on the Thai food I only dream about.

Until next summer, I’ll have to wait with anticipation…and maybe impulsively book a trip to Thailand for this winter!

How to get there
Take the U-Bahn to Fehrbelliner Platz and it’s in the park outside the train station. The market is open on Saturdays and Sundays in the summer, if there’s no rain. It starts around 12pm and ends around 8pm, with the peak time being 1-5pm. There are more people and vendors on Sunday.

  1. elena

    I went to Stockholm this summer. Got so lucky that Thai festival was happening that weekend. I say, I had the best Thai food in Europe ( plus I got the best foot/leg thai massage ). I was in heaven ! Thanks for the info about Thai food in Berlin. Will be at the park to indulge.

  2. Oh wow, that red pork soup looks amazing! I love meat when it absorbs bold colour like that. This market needs to spread to London, I’d be there every weekend like a shot.

    A pub near my house does amazing authentic tasting Thai food, but it’s only the super popular dishes like Pad Thai and things Westerners would be familiar with. It’d be nice to have somewhere local that had the variety your market does!

  3. And here I thought that the reason things always tasted better in country, aside from the fact that it is their food, was the anchoring with your surroundings. For example, a bagel in New York just tasted better than that same damn bagel anywhere else. Philly Cheese Steaks just taste better in the original place in Philly. Glad to know there are exceptions to that rule.

  4. Efrutik

    That was my little secret once I found out about the park in Berlin over a year ago. It is such a gem, the food is amazing the vibe unmatched. I hope they will still be around next month when I’m there. Shhhhh let’s keep this little place still a secret though Matt.

  5. Awesome! Thanks for the tip, yet another reason to go back to Berlin soon! They’ve got really good Asian supermarkets in Berlin, great that the Thai people of Berlin are using that advantage to feed Thai food addicts! 😀
    I’m off to a boring lunch now..

  6. Hi Matt,
    It’s amazing how the taste of food can immediately transport a person back to a place, time or country. My husband has become a dab hand at thai cooking since our visits to the country and each time he cooks a dish it transports me back. It made me feel a bit teary hearing you call it home! Maybe because my daughter is sitting on Koh Tao at the moment. If it’s home to you – do you think you intend to live there eventually?

    • NomadicMatt

      Thailand? Probably not. I did years ago and while I always go back, I don’t think I could live there forever. My wants for a home have changed.

  7. Looks like I know what I’m eating this weekend.

    Even with the vegan festival on here in Alexanderplatz this weekend, I’m going to have to find this food out.

  8. Karen Shakespeare

    I agreed with Ed, l thought it was the surroundings that amplified the flavour. But l will take your word for it, you’re the expert on Thai. But l am in KL at the moment & it is closer for me to go to Thailand than Berlin.
    So pleased that you found your magic market carpet to take you ‘home.’

  9. Addie Morton

    You lucky dog!! Cheers to you. I miss Thai food SO much, since the tour. I would give anything to be the upcoming celebratory huge celebration!!! Please consider me. Im ready to go.
    Thank you, Matt.

  10. Oh yum…my mouth is watering! I love finding these gems of ethnic food. And for this in particular, I especially like the serving spread on the grass. What a picnic! Thanks for sharing. I’ll have to keep this in mind when I head to Berlin.

  11. My friends wanted to go to a Thai food restaurant when I went back home to Tampa for a visit and I refused!
    1) I love Thai food, but I just got home so all I wanted was cheese, wine, bread, and other things that I had not ate in months.
    2) I KNEW it would SUCK!!! lol

    Glad you found your little spot… I’m surprised you haven’t found one in NYC?!

  12. Pascal

    You don’t actually say WHERE it is! I live in Berlin and all you say is Fehrbellinerplatz. I want to go tomorrow! More deets!!

  13. Matt haven’t you been to Koh Rong at some point?

    Sigi’s Thai food is a tiny street food stall that serves best Thai dishes I’ve ever had.

    I heard about this long before visiting Cambodia….Sigi seems to have gained cult status among backpackers by now. He was born in Thailand but lived for years in New York City, serving haute cuisine meals, as he likes to tell his customers.

    That was pretty authentic to me…but I’ll try yours as well.

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