On a slightly desolate stretch of the already charmless Kaiser-Friedrich Strasse, there is a Thai restaurant that I've driven by, oh, let's say hundreds of times. Although it's quite close to where we live, we never go past there on foot and somehow it's never occurred to me to stop in. When I pass it, I'm usually in the car and in a hurry to get where I'm going: doctor's office, my mother's place, the gym, errand-running.
But on Sunday we were on our way to Tiergarten to let Hugo practice walking (he wants nothing more these days than to push his stroller around until he's glassy-eyed and catatonic) and Max was hungry. He wanted to grab something quick. I rattled off the usual suspects, but nothing piqued his interest. Just then we drove past Samakki Talad Thai. "Let me run in there," he said. "I'll grab something to go." I double-parked, he ran in and a few minutes later emerged with a takeaway pot of steamed rice and chicken red curry in a knotted plastic bag. I kept expecting to see a goldfish swim up to the surface.
It was pretty delicious stuff and seriously spicy. Far more so than what I was used to. Max paid €5 for the meal and kept raving about what he'd seen inside the restaurant - chafing dishes set out with lots of interesting looking things, all the cooks speaking Thai. He was sure they were regulars at the Thai Park.
So yesterday, I went to have lunch there myself.
The place is pretty bare bones and ordering is a little confusing. There's a counter with the aforementioned chafing dishes and a few platters of fried things, a second counter with fresh vegetables laid out (the salad counter?), plus a third counter in the back that I didn't even dare approach. There's also a man (the owner?) who simply came up to me while I looked at the offerings and asked me what I wanted. I ordered a Thai fish cake and a papaya salad. "Scharf oder nicht scharf?" came the question, so of course I said "scharf". I only started getting nervous when it was repeated back to me incredulously two more times, as if to say, are you sure, you wimpy-looking lady?
The fish cake (served cold) came doused in Thai chili sauce and was...sort of chewy. I couldn't really discern the fish, but eaten with the cooling cucumbers it was nice enough.
At that point, I was full enough. But my curiousity was bigger. In the meantime, other customers had come in and ordered hot meals and everything smelled so good. So I went back to the counter and asked for a plate of ground pork and peppers spiked with chiles (there are no labels on anything, so I don't know the name for this dish, but I think it was Pad Krapow Moo - see here and here). I was warned that it was going to be spicy, but I'd survived the papaya salad, hadn't I? Nothing was going to stop me now. The ground pork was piled on top of a big plate of white rice.
And it was just fantastic. Spicy, indeed, but the rice helped me out there, and also faintly sweet and savory and saucy and aromatic (holy basil completes me) and addictively good. (Though I still only managed half of the plate and took the rest home for dinner.) It tasted like home cooking heaven.
Every dish is €5 at lunch. (The fish cake was another euro.) It's definitely going to be my new canteen.
Samakki Talad Thai
Kaiser-Friedrich Strasse 41