Berkeley: Thai Temple

I first heard about Thai Temple during my freshman year of undergrad, fervent whispers promising food in abundance, authentic and to die for. It took me a while to get on the Thai Temple Sunday Brunch train, but once I did, I've never turned back. I'm not ashamed to say that I planned an entire weekend in Berkeley/SF around Thai Temple:

Every Sunday from about 10am to 1pm, the back of Wat Mongkolratanaram is transformed into a bustling food bazaar. There are multiple "stations" that you can get in line for:

All the food is prepared by volunteers. Gotta love Thai food made by these Thai mamas and grandmas:

Because the Thai Temple can't technically sell anything, the entire operation functions by tokens. You exchange your money for tokens ($1 = 1 token). The money is taken as a "donation" to the temple. If you don't end up using all the tokens, you can always trade it back for cash:

The crowd at Thai Temple is always insane. But not to worry, my friends and I have Thai Temple DOWN. Our strategy is simple: divide and conquer. One person finds seats while the others get into different lines, get food, bring the food back to the table, and then get into another line.

The victorious feeling you get when you finally sit down to enjoy what you've gathered together is very much similar to a general's satisfaction in surveying his spoils of war. Not that I've ever been in battle, but I figure that's what it would feel like.

Anyway, onto the Best Thai tea ever for 1 token (you can also get Thai coffee or regular soda):

There are two lines for rice entrees, the veggie and the meat line. (Guess which one I got into?) Think make-your-own-bento style of service. You tell the server behind the mesh how many entrees you want and then proceed to point them out. One entree is 5 tokens, two is 6, and three is 7. We went for three entrees (no duh):

We got the yellow chicken curry, the basil pork, and pad thai. Word of caution: stuff can get pretty spicy at Thai Temple. Keep your Thai tea close.

My comrade-in-arms battled the papaya salad line:

Freshly made, no joke! You can tell them how spicy you want it.

The fried sweets station is open only every other week. We got lucky this time:

The white ones are khanom krog, which are made of coconut milk, green onion, sugar, and rice flour. Perfect for when your tongue feels like it's on fire. I'm not sure what the flatter ones are called, but they're my favorite. Deep fried taro and coconut batter...mmm. Not usually a taro fan, but this stuff is awesome.

There are other stations as well, such as the noodle station, the fried chicken station, the dessert station (mango with sticky rice, anyone?), and the fried banana/taro station. We really wanted fried bananas (the batter is peanut-y, which is sooooo good), but they only had taro at the time. Boo.

Thai Temple is a must for everyone at Berkeley, heck, for everyone that lives within drivable distance of Berkeley. If you haven't gone yet...go this Sunday.

Wat Mongkolratanaram (aka Thai Temple)
1911 Russell St
Berkeley, CA 94703
(510) 849-3419


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