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June 2007

Lighten Up with Thai

As we settle into swimsuit weather, I’ve noticed, it isn’t just the numbers on the thermometer that have risen. My winter was weighted more towards Weisswurst and Brez’n than hikes or Alpine skiing. I’m not about to give up tasty nights on the town, so now, I tend to look to low-carb environments where no bread basket or dessert list calls my name. This seems to fuel a craving for all things Asian. Consider this a first course for the category, featuring Thai. I will tackle Chinese, Vietnamese, and Japanese cuisine in upcoming articles.

Yum and fast-food spinoff Yum2Take are Munich staples. Though total opposites—an elegant nightspot for leisure dining and an Imbiss with unsually striking design—their tasty treats are almost equally delicious. With lovely lighting and creative décor featuring updated twists on Buddha and paper umbrellas, Yum is the perfect setting for a special night. Stop off at the ATM though: Entrées range from € 15.50 to € 19.50, with even the noodle dishes such as Pad See You and rice dishes costing as much as € 14.50. At Yum2Take, I recommend the Wonton and Vegetable Soup (€ 4.90) or the Organic Turkey with noodles in broth. For a quick snack, the Spring Rolls (€ 2.90) are just enough, especially when paired with a glass of ginger-lemon iced tea. No need for sugar! (Yum, Utzschneiderstrasse 6, Yum2Take, Sebastiansplatz 8)

Rainbow has the big-bang menu, obligatory fish tank, bamboo, and multiple Buddhas one associates with Asian restaurants worldwide. The décor may not have been my taste, but after an initial Beef Satay (Nua Sate, € 5) that was so-so, the kitchen hit its stride with the delicious whole trout (Pla Rat Khing, € 10). Light broth and an explosive mix of scallions, ginger, mushrooms and peppers combined with the moistness of the fish to create a great meal for only € 10. (Corneliusstrasse 1)

Even devoted Thai fans will be surprised to hear of the treat waiting nearby at Gärtnerplatz. Interview is best known for its great views of the Staatstheater and local scenesters, as well as a decent Italian menu. Recently, however, they’ve shaken things up with “Interview Goes Thai”—a menu addition including such standards as Pad Thai, Sate Gai and Tom Yum soup. The Thai Curry Chicken, in particular, is excellent: spicy, packed with vegetables, and delivered in a hearty portion. The same menu is offered during lunch at lower prices and with slightly less impressive execution. It proved the perfect solution for the dinner with split culinary interests.

Also in the Gärtnerplatz area is Shida, known as Munich’s first Thai restaurant. If you’re an old fan, note that the restaurant has now switched to serving daily, but only for dinner. The menu is quite large and goes well beyond the standard soup and noodle fare. For a little extravagance, order the Gung Mangkorn Kaprap (€ 24), crayfish in a chili-garlic sauce with onions, green beans, and Thai basil. They also offer several Massaman curry dishes, including the rare Massaman Lamb (€ 13,50). In fact, there are no fewer than six lamb entrees on the menu, as well as a rainbow of varieties of fish and shellfish options—including the tasty sounding Pla Gung, which is shrimp in Lemongrass, Herbs and Lime Sauce. (€ 16,50). (Klenzestrasse 32)

Finally, one last standout in the neighborhood is Lotus Lounge. Restaurateurs Ralf Plitt and Noi Suankwan run this comfortable-yet-stylish eatery, which offers a huge variety of Thai food and tropical drinks. Start with a fruity Mai Tai and then try a fresh tofu salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, soy sprouts, and fresh coriander in a light sour sauce. The Gaeng Kiewvan Gal is an especially great entrée choice: chicken in coconut milk with green curry paste and bamboo on Thai vegetables. Of course, there’s always room for some Gluey Tood, baked pineapple with honey and vanilla ice cream. (Hans-Sachs-Strasse 10)

If you’re up for a trek or want a place to refresh after a zoo outing, stop off in Thalkirchen at Mangostin’s lovely outdoor Asia garden. (Mangostin also has an outlet at Terminal 2 of the airport.) The Thalkirchen locale contains three restaurants—Lemon Grass (Thai), Keiko (Japanese) and Papa Joe’s (International). Thai ingredients are flown in weekly. Thai specialities include Yum Wun Sen (€ 13.50), a dish of spiced glass noodles with prawns and morels, and, for chili lovers, there is Moo Pat Prik Deang (€ 13), stirfried spicy pork with special seasoning. The garden menu is abbreviated but contains many curries, salads, wok offerings and Thai Spare ribs. It is a refreshing take on the traditional beer garden (which with 600 seats and chestnut trees is basically what the space is). How nice to match your beer or wine with a spare rib and satay!

Alas, I’ve had neither the time nor the stomach for all the Thai in Munich…but savvy foodies or late-night cravers I know recommend Westend’s Kao Kao (Tulbeckstrasse 9) and Schwabing’s Waikiki (Neureutherstrasse 39), which both have kitchens that are open to 12:30 am.

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