If you love Thai food, you probably have an extensive list of the best places to go for Thai food in Berkeley. Our newest discovery just a bus ride away isn't your average modern restaurant. Wat Mongkolratanaram Temple is a unique street-food vendor dining experience that brings you the closest you can get to Thailand while still being in Berkeley. 

About Wat Mongkolratanaram Temple

Carolyn Hong

The volunteers at Wat Mongkolratanaram Temple prepare and serve freshly made authentic Thai food in Berkeley every Sunday morning. This weekly event has its roots in the traditional Buddhist practice of Dāna, which means ‘giving.’ The ancient practice of communities offering food to monks in order to pave a path of virtue transforms into a modern weekly brunch. By adapting to the change in times, people from different cultures are able to keep the Thai Buddhist community thriving in America.

Paying in Tokens

Carolyn Hong

Tokens are used in place of cash since they are simpler to keep track of and donate. Make sure you purchase tokens for cash before you get in line for food—each green token is valued at $1 and red at $5. Don’t be afraid to get more than you need because all unused tokens can be easily refunded at the same location.

For several booths, you pay as many tokens as you want; however, paying the suggested donation is worthwhile for such great quality Thai food.

#SpoonTip: Go to the ATM two blocks away on Shattuck & Ashby Ave if you forget to bring cash!

Entrées, Curries, & Sides

Carolyn Hong

Right at the entrance, there's a set of three booths with a wide variety of entrées. Choose up to three entrées for a plate of food, such as braised tofu/pork/egg, kabocha squash, stir-fried eggplant with basil or ground beef, etc. There's also a selection of four curries served over rice: chicken yellow curry, chicken green curry, beef Penang red curry, and chicken & cashew nuts curry. We tried a two-entrée option of pad Thai with just the right amount of sauciness and beef Penang curry over rice.

#SpoonTip: If you’re a vegetarian, the first of these three lines of food is just for you. 

Thai Beef Noodle Soup

Carolyn Hong

This Thai beef noodle soup stall has one of the longest lines. The soup has a very distinctive flavor with a light yet flavorful beef broth infused with galangal, lemongrass, star anise, and palm sugar. You can choose from three rice noodle sizes: small, medium, or wide. We opted for the wide flat noodles and with just the right amount of chew, it was a great contrast to the refreshing broth and hearty beef meatballs.

#SpoonTip: Check out the condiment station by the beef and noodle soup stall. It has fish sauce, sugar, jalapeños, chilis, chili flakes, and more.

Coconut Pancakes

Carolyn Hong

Vegans, your foodie souls are about to be blessed by khanom krok, a rice flour and coconut-milk based popular Thai street dessert. Though small in size, you can smell these half-sphered coconut cream pancakes from a mile away. Khanom krok has three different textures: crispy shells, slightly chewy inner layers, and a soft, creamy pudding-like center. You can choose from three different toppings of chopped green onions, sweet corn, or cinnamon. Try them all like we did if you can't make up your mind and find them right behind the beef noodle soup stall.

Mango Sticky Rice

Carolyn Hong

Last but not least is the widely known and loved mango sticky rice: a bed of steamed short-grain rice topped with sangkaya, a velvety Thai coconut egg custard, and generously sized cubes of sweet, juicy mango. A rich serving of lightly salted coconut cream sauce adds the finishing touch. It is offered to the right of the three entrée booths, along with other delicacies like un-battered fried chicken & sticky rice with Thai sauce, egg rolls, papaya salad, and empanada-shaped curry puffs. Wat Mongkolratanaram Temple also offers extra large refreshing Vietnamese cà phê sữa đá and Thai tea for only $1 each. 

#SpoonTip: Ask for your meal to-go if you're in a hurry, with a 1-token charge for soups. 

Why You Should Go

Carolyn Hong

Air-conditioned restaurants can be nice, but this casual and welcoming environment is that breath of fresh air you need. Take a break from your usual midterm season routine of getting Thai food to-go from the same local restaurants, and dine at Wat Mongkolratanaram Temple this weekend. This is also a great place to bring your visiting friends and family when you want to give them more than just a normal restaurant experience. Supporting a community while enjoying delicious Thai food in Berkeley is a pretty great way to start off your Sunday.