During the past few weeks, parts of the Tiergarten (Berlin's version of NYC's Central Park) have been closed to autos and bicycles for security reasons. During the World Cup, the City of Berlin installs a large World Cup viewing venue that includes big screen TVs, food and drinking kiosks, and lots of opportunities for people watching. Known as the Fanmeile ("Fan Mile"), this venue is located right in the middle of the Tiergarten. To enter the Fanmeile, people undergo a security inspection similar to airport security. This means people are not permitted to bring liquids into the secured area. This has caused problems, including a few cases of heat exhaustion. Think about it. The weather is in the 90s, there is a limited water supply, and crowds of people numbering in the thousands. All in a compact area.
Unfortunately, this is just another example of what has been called Security Theater. No one would argue that reasonable security measures are necessary; however, there is such a thing as overreacting. Many experts agree that it would be next to impossible to construct a bomb in this fashion. Then why continue with the "no liquids" rule? Because it provides a sense of security, even though it does nothing to enhance safety. It makes you think the terrorist have really won the war.
In addition, the Fanmeile blocks a major roadway connecting west and east Berlin. The closure has resulted in increased traffic congestion and a few disgruntled drivers. In my case, I've added an extra 15 minutes to my commute. Today, I got tired of all the mess and decided to try an alternative route. Unfortunately, the new route was less picturesque (no Fernsehturm, no Museum Island, no Brandenburger Tor, and no Tiergarten); however, it was quicker.
Since the new route goes through the Schöneberg section of Berlin, I decided to stop at a restaurant that someone recommended. He said the restaurant was cheap and good. I'm always cautious when it comes to restaurant recommendations, especially when the words "cheap and good" are used in the same sentence.
In this case, the recommendation was right on. Thai Huong was reasonably priced (around 5 Euro for a complete meal, or $7 USD), and the food was not merely good but excellent. This is the place for Vietnamese food in Berlin. The next time I go there, I'm going to find out why it's called Thai Huong even though it serves Vietnamese food (perhaps, it's a play on the words "Viet Cong.")
Thai Huong is tucked away on a leafy side street offering inside and outside dining. It has a simple, spare, and tasteful interior. Although the menu is limited, it does offer a few vegetarian and vegan dishes. I had a chicken dish with lots of fresh vegetables (a rarity in a Berlin restaurant). The light sauce had touches of jasmine, ginger, sesame and herbs that highlighted the natural flavors of the chicken and vegetables without being overpowering.
Thai Huong is not a restaurant that is likely to be found in tour books. It has the disadvantage, or should I say advantage, of not being on the usual tourist route or on a street with lots of foot traffic. Instead, the restaurant offers a savory meal that is served in an unpretentious and quiet setting. This is a neighborhood restaurant that gets business through word of mouth.
Thai Huong is located on Eisenacher Str. 54 (U-7, Eisenacher Str.). It is open 12-23 daily. It also offers some lunch specials as well. Sehr Lecker!! Du muss es proberiert.