Sample authentic Asian cuisine at Berlin’s biggest picnic
Nicknamed ‘Thai Park’, the Preußenpark in Berlin’s Wilmersdorf district is a popular meeting point for the Asian community and fans of Asian cuisine. Thai, Filipino, Chinese and Vietnamese families living in Berlin flock to the park, particularly at weekends, to sell homemade fried fish, sesame seed balls and Thai-style fried bananas out of tupperware containers and cool boxes as they picnic on the grass.
The food is cheap, fresh and amongst the most authentic Asian cuisine available in Berlin, and what’s more, it always comes with a smile. Don’t worry if you forget to bring your own picnic blanket; your host will invite you to eat beside her on her bamboo mat as she crushes crabs and peanuts, and squeezes lime into the next papaya salad. Don’t need be shy about going up to one of the roughly 20 little food and drink stalls and asking questions – some of the delicacies will be quite unfamiliar if you’re used to the kind of Asian food on offer at your local takeaway.
As you look for a space on the grass to sit down and tuck in, do not be alarmed if you see a small Asian woman kneeling on a body lying face down in the grass. She is one of a number of the Preußenpark’s masseuses who offer traditional Thai massages at very reasonable prices. This kind of massages is supposedly good for the digestive system, which is handy if you’ve spent the afternoon getting carried away sampling all the different dishes. You can also get a manicure or pedicure as you soak up the sun.
Strictly speaking, the sale of food and drinks in this way is not legal without a permit, and there have been attempts in the past to clamp down on the activity since it began around 20 years ago – but to little effect. Nowadays, the authorities seem to be turning a blind eye, and hopefully it will stay this way as this truly is a unique way to experience Asian cuisine and culture in Germany. To help guarantee the future of the ‘Thai Park’, the community has organised a team of volunteers to help clean up the rubbish at the end of the day and keep the park pristine. So the park’s official name, which translates as ‘Prussian Park’, is more fitting than is immediately apparent: Prussia was famed for its love of discipline, order and hard work.