1313 Ninth St, Berkeley
This was a surprise find. It's a teeny-tiny place, but it has big flavors. We tried the red curry with fish, shared the brussel sprouts and had to try the pad thai too. All of the dishes we had were fresh and flavorful. Each sauce, and seasoning seemed to pulse with it's own flavor. Nothing here tasted canned or dead to me. It was warm, vibrant, and the flavor really sings to you. The bathroom was funky, but in a good way. The place was immaculately Clean. And the service and hospitality was warm and friendly, like Thai restaurants should be.
No frills Thai stop. There is an overwhelming smell of fish sauce that you quickly adjust too.
This is one of my absolute favorite places to go for thai food! This is the kinda thai food where almost everything is pretty spicy, so if you don't like or are sensitive to spicy foods, make sure you double check with the server as to which foods are spicy and if you can get the spiciness on the side! I've been here three times so far and the number one thing I always get is of course the pad thai! What sets their pad thai apart from the others that I've had would probably be the gigantic prawns that come with it and that it has more of a tangy/spicy flavor to it. I always get the spiciness on the side (which is just some sort of crushed red pepper I believe) b/c I know that I can't handle it well! I only add about a pinch of it and it's already enough for me. I've also tried the brusselsprouts, which were decent and spicy, as well as the vermicelli curry, which was amazing! You're given a bowl of chicken curry with the noodles and garnishes on the side, and you basically just put everything into the bowl and mix it altogether. When you're done with your dinner, make sure to grab some of their soft serve as well to cool you down! I think they rotate flavors, but when I went I had the pandan flavor which was super good and just the right amount of sweetness. The service here is also very superb and the staff are always willing to help with any questions you may have. The inside though is on the smaller side with only about 4 or 5 tables inside as well as a couple of outdoor tables with heaters, so hopefully they'll be able to expand in the future!
*** In Short *** Pricy, but tasty Thai that'll set your mouth ablaze. *** In Depth *** You know how there's white people spicy, and then there's Asian people spicy? Yeah, well, authentic Thai spicy tends to take it a notch further, and Funky Elephant's dishes definitely fall under authentic (according to the Thai friend I went with, anyway) Thai spicy. Of course, there are a number of less (and non) spicy dishes, but expect the spicy ones to actually be as such: our waitress was kind enough to ask/warn us about our capacity for spice, so kudos to her. Some of the more notable dishes we had included their crispy rice salad (FYI: spicy af) and their drunken mussels. ***Accessibility Info*** Venue - Up a flight of stairs, but also accessible via an outdoor lift that you can operate without a key. Plenty of accessible seating as well, both outdoors and in. Bathroom - Didn't check them out.
No doubt, the food and the service on their own deserve a higher rating, but the price knocks the rating a couple notches. The party wings are definitely a must-get. They pack a sizable amount of heat to them, but they are perfectly cooked, almost crispy on the outside and tender and moist on the inside. They're the perfect way to start your meal. The Pad Thai grabbed our attention from the get-go with the two massive prawns on top. I recommend asking for chili powder on the side because personally, it was not spicy enough, but for others it might be too spicy. The texture of this pad thai is very different from others I've had in the past. The noodles are almost chewy, but not in a bad way, not to mention how the taste is more subtle than other pad thais I've had in the past. The short rib dish is is done very well. The meat is cooked perfectly, which is refreshing considering most thin short ribs are often overcooked. The curry paste on the outside lends a lot of flavor and kick to the meat without being overpowering and the peanut sauce just continues to add a lot of flavor. They come with pickled cucumbers that work well to cut the fat of the dish. Again, the food and service is great, but the price point is really high for the restaurant, but if that's not a problem, I would really recommend trying it.
Delicious food, gorgeous plating, clean and authentic flavors. This place is truly wonderful and I would highly recommend this to anyone visiting Berkeley.
Great tasting food and service, I have no complaint about that. If I judge based on that, would give 4.5 stars. Really recommend the sausages! It was a very authentic taste. However, I felt that the meal was a bit pricy compared to the portion and the decor/atmosphere of the location. Would I come here again? Maybe. I live in Berkeley without a car so I'll probably stick a bit closer.
My new favorite Thai spot in Berkeley. Service is absolutely fantastic, food is so flavorful, and I love their condensed menu featuring unique Thai dishes. Our server/host made us feel right at home when we walked into the quaint vibrant space. She asked if we'd ever dined in before and walked us throughout the menu. There were so many great options, but my husband and I narrowed it down to these 3 items for lunch: - Fried egg salad: wow this was unique! 2 fried eggs under 2 grilled shrimp with a delicious Thai chili garlic and fish sauce. - Pad Thai: I've never seen such large shrimp on a pad Thai! It took a bit of work to take off the shell, but it was so worth it. It was so juicy and flavorful. The pad Thai was made just how I like my pad Thai and the noodles and tofu were cooked perfectly. - Pandan soft serve: uh, yes please. So creamy and smooth. And where else can you can pandan soft serve around here?! So happy they have so many pescatarian options on the menu. I cant wait to go back. They have a bunch of seating outside and a clean and vibrant restroom. Service was super attentive throughout. They kept refilling our water.
I always park in front of their restaurant every Saturday and Sunday due to it not having a parking meter. Street parking can be hard to find if you want to eat here. I finally got the chance to eat at this restaurant and take some food home. I was impress of how good the food was. I had Pad Thai. Boy the shrimp that was in my Pad Thai was HUGE! When they put shrimp in the Pad Thai they put in the huge shrimp! I love my Pad Thai that they served me. The restaurant is small but luckily they can serve you outside if you can stand the cold weather. I love the service that this place does. This restaurant is next door from Philz Coffee which is OK because after you eat Funky Elephant you can have Philz Coffee afterward. Have Funky Elephant after finishing your grocery shopping at Whole Foods or office supply shopping at Office Depot.
More of a 3.5 stars. I came here for the food and fair enough it was flavorful. I like the spin on the pad thai where they grilled the shrimps before hand and used somewhat of an organic pad thai sauce. I also ordered the Isaan sausage where it came just one for $17. I thought it was regular considering I've had homemade ones before.
The food and vibes here are great! We got there when it opened, so we didn't have to wait for a table. There were 8 of us, so we ordered the wings, papaya salad, pad Thai, KMG, crispy rice salad, and green curry beef. My favorites were the papaya salad and pad Thai--probably the best papaya salad and pad Thai I've had in the Bay Area. The rest of the food was decent. Wings and crispy rice salad were a tad too salty. The service was great, and I love that they have outdoor seating--perfect for a beautiful day. And it's next door to Philz!! There's a free parking lot close by and a lot of street parking.
Great genuine Thai food.... My Isan wife gave it 5 stars !! ?
Okay let's get something out of the way.... this isn't your typical $6.50 per entree Thai joint. If you're on a strict budget & want that, head over to Imm Thai or Tuk Tuk Thai. There are plenty of cheap Thai takeout places for that around Berkeley.
Cute small Thai restaurant with indoor and outdoor tables. Good service. The food was fresh and pretty good. It was a little pricey but they used some organic recipes. I'm from Marin County so maybe that's normal prices for East Bay.
Literally we come here at least 3 times a week since about 4 months ago. Freshest and best version of Thai food in the bay.
Wow! Fresh, balanced, flavorful Thai food in casual indoor/outdoor seating. Protein is expertly prepared and done just right. Surplus of fresh herbs, contrasting textures, balanced sauces. A class above any Thai food I’ve ever had.
Amazing food and super nice owners. Spicy!
This is as authenthic as it can get in terms of Thai food in the Bay Area! Funky Elephant does not shy away from spice, fish sauce, and funk. So if you're looking for your typical ordinary Pad Thai, you'll be getting something way better! With regard to spice, if you cannot tolerate it, you can ask to have it on the side. The must-trys are the Old Skool Pad Thai, which feature a couple whole large shrimps, and the Drunken Mussels, which are tangy and melt-in-your-mouth. Their menu is well-thoughout and concise, which really shows their attention on making those singular dishes truly the best. Please support this local business because there's a lot of great and complex flavors being cooked up in their kitchen!
Met a friend for dinner here one night. The whole experience was unexpected! I show up and for a second, I am lost because it's not really in your face kind of restaurant. We walk in, and there are about 3 tables inside and around 4 outside. We sit outside since the day was Beautiful! We ordered their hella drunken mussels, Pad Thai old school,and gang rawang beef. Each one of these items was an explosion of taste on the palate. It wasn't spicy enough for me but I'm on a different level of spices. It was so savory. We had a singha to cut the spices a bit. The ambience was fun and definitely worth a visit!
Best Thai restaurant I’ve ever been to. Food is amazing, staff is super friendly. I love coming here. You can also actually get spicy food here which I’ve had a hard time finding in the Bay Area. So if you love spicy stuff definitely come here.
Really great service and they take the food they serve very seriously! First time I’ve eaten shrimp with the whole head intact, I believe. Keeping the shell on for the “old skool” Pad Thai really did enhance the flavor. This place is different from pretty much all other “Thai” food I’ve tired - I now realize I’ve been deceived by watered-down, Americanized imitations! The staff explains things in detail and the head chef is from Bangkok, capital of Thailand and I was told he cooks the way they do there, just has “turned down the spice slightly” for an American audience - however given that I have zero (zero!!!) spice tolerance they did make my dish without any chili and it was still delicious, complex and multi-flavored, and very filling.
Would certainly recommend trying out this place. Fantastic character, yummy food, fantastic service. Fantastic work.
Phenomenal pad thai - fresh shrimp, tangy tamarind sauce and a nice heat! (Note: the default spice level is a bit above what others would call "medium."). Flavors were balanced nicely - roasted peanuts, tamarind and lime, perfectly cooked pad thai noodles. Service was friendly and prompt. Will definitely be back!
This review is only for the service. My friend and I showed up without a reservation last Saturday. We were seated at a table facing the door and it was really cold. We saw that a table away from the door was available and asked to be seated there. The person waiting on us was very rude and didn't seem to want to move us. We had to insist on moving. The other servers were fine. The food was pretty good - the pad Thai is tasty and not sweet which is great. The fried tofu appetizer was just meh, I probably wouldn't get it again. I won't go out of my way to go to funky Elephant again, there are plenty of Thai restaurants in Oakland I can go to!
Great concept and the menu is definitely different from your run of the mill Thai restaurant in berkeley. But omg our server was the most condescending and pretentious person ever! He kept saying how this food is like real thai food and how we wouldn't understand (?) and just had no capacity to appreciate the food- this is before we even ordered! We have spent time in Thailand and took thai cooking classes there (not that this should matter at all) and it was just incredibly odd to be told within 5 minutes of sitting down (and then multiple times through the meal) that we had no capacity to appreciate the food ("you won't be able to eat the spice, your palate cant handle it... we gave you spice but you shouldn't' use it, you won't be able to eat it because you don't understand thai food" that kind of thing) . So bizarre. The food was good though! And sitting outside was sweet. I just wish we could have had a server who wasn't so self righteous about the food.
Contemplating on when to go back next time... Spicy Party wings (5/5): Comes with 3 whole wings, it's so good but a little hard to eat. Pad Thai (4.5/5): This is probably my new go-to pad Thai spot from now. The shrimps were grilled perfectly and they weren't stingy with the crushed peanuts. Panang beef (3/5): The beef was tender, and the salad was really good - but the portion was not satisfying :( Couple things to note: - Their portion sizes are a bit smaller considering the prices. It's more of a order-your-own-plate kind of place. - There's not a lot of seats - both inside and outside of the restaurant. And if might get chilly if you sit outside since there's no heater. Service was really good - we didn't have to ask for water at all (we got our bottles refilled at least 3 times) and the servers were attentive for our requests.
The red curry is freaking amazing so spicy and delicious in the perfect way!
This intimate casual Thai spot in Berkeley is serving some of the most delicious authentic Thai food in the Bay Area. Don't let the size of the place fool you because the dishes here are packed with flavors and heat. Starting with the mussels served with curried broth. The spicy, sweet and sour flavor are going to wake up your pallet for sure. Love the bright flavor of the Thai lime leaf on this dish. The pad Thai was perfectly chewy and came with two perfectly fried prawns. The kao mun gai was such a simple dish yet very satisfying. The chicken was moist and juicy and nicely served over the garlic and ginger scented rice. The Laotian sausage was not disappointing at all; two perfectly cooked house-made sausages served over a bed of aromatic herbs and thinly sliced Thai chilies. Finally, the delicious short ribs served with peanut sauce and Thai pickled cucumbers. The grilled short ribs were marinated with turmeric and coconut milk and tasted amazing!
The food is amazingly fresh and the service is knowledgeable and friendly! If you think you've had good Thai food, you need to come here and see if it compares. You'll be happy that you did!
Delicious food every time. Also, fantastic bathroom experience.
Tried out a new Thai place in Berkeley! It was definitely a funky place with interesting decor and outside tables, but a little tight and small inside. Nice little outdoor area right next to Philz Coffee. Green Papaya Salad ($12) - Spicy!!! Default they put in 3 chilis and we put in just 1 chili and it was definitely spicy. At one point the spices came up my nose LOL. Couldn't really differentiate the chili from the peanuts. It had a lot of flavor but it would've been better if the Papaya was colder(?). It might've made the salad more fresh. Grilled Beef Short Ribs ($18) - Good. I thought it came with rice (other yelp pictures), but came with no rice. Ordered jasmine rice ($2) and it was blue, which was pretty interesting. Again, a lot of flavor going on. Pad Thai Old Skool ($15) - Lots of sauce and flavor overall. Good pad Thai but not the best I ever had. Size is definitely on the smaller side. Ask for chili on the side or no chili if you don't like spicy. It seems really spicy. Soft Serve Ice Cream Thai Tea ($6) - Nice! It's not super milky and reminds me of the chick fil a soft serve texture (?). Nice light Thai tea flavor. Overall, had a nice experience! Apparently, this place is super authentic and they do things spicy (overheard the waiter explaining to another table - service was good but could've been better if they explained about their restaurant and food to us too. I had no idea it was supposed to be spicy!). The flavors were pretty crazy, but I think overall there was just too much flavor going on that it was kinda overwhelming. There wasn't anything simple to cleanse my palate. I'm not Thai, so I guess I'm not used to all the flavors, but usually at other Thai places, I don't walk away feeling overwhelmed. I might need a juice cleanse lol. I wouldn't really recommend to my family/friends just because we have similar tastes, but would recommend to anyone who wants to try authentic Thai food with lots of FLAVOR and lots of spice!
Funky Elephant why are you so delicious? Your every dish is beautiful to behold and bursting with complex flavor. Your noodles have perfect bite and texture, your meats are all tender and tasty, even your tofu tastes good. Your food is fresh, spicy, sweet, sour, salty in perfect balance. People who complain about the price and portion size aren't realizing how special the food here is compared with other Thai places in the Bay Area. Some people care about authenticity - I care about delicious. That said, I would not be surprised to be served this food in Thailand, and in fact would love it there as much as I love it here. I've had a lot of meals in Thailand that weren't this good. This place is a gem and you should have dinner here tonight.
More of a 3.5 stars. I came here for the food and fair enough it was flavorful. I like the spin on the pad thai where they grilled the shrimps before hand and used somewhat of an organic pad thai sauce. I also ordered the Isaan sausage where it came just one for $17. I thought it was regular considering I've had homemade ones before. However, I find this place to be on the pricey end and food portion is not really accommodating if you're hungry. I'd say people would love it here if come for presentations.
This is almost certainly the best Thai food in the bay. Complex flavors that don't just rely on heat to be interesting. Great prices and friendly service. I've loved everything I've had, but don't leave without trying the party wings.
Been wanting to try this tiny little place that packs a big flavor punch. I only ordered the muscles. They were a tad bit chewy and over cooked, but that broth was to die for. Unfortunately no bread to sop it up with so they suggested rice vermicelli which was ok. Lots of beer and other interesting looking items to quench your thirst. I wasn't hungry enough for ol school pad Thai but will try next time. This place is tiny and appears to do a strong business in take out. Other than the modernity of the building, the size and furniture reminds me of the little shops outside of Bangkok. They are in strip malls,next to gas stations, and office buildings. Unpretentious fast and very solid. However this place try's to elevate and deviate at the same time from pure tradition. In an attempt to cater to western palettes and with all the competition in foodie heaven nor Cal, they seemed to have found a balanced measured approach. You get some familiar items with enough of a twist to bring a new dimension of "yummy" to them. Enough of original presentation with creative deviance to make you want to come back and try something else. Which of course I will be doing!
I try to avoid superlatives, but Funky Elephant may have the best Pad Thai I've tried in the Bay Area. Yes you read that right, the best. They create the sauce from scratch using fresh tamarind juice, and what a world of difference this makes! The tangy, thick sauce generously coats each strand without being too salty or overpowering. Combined with the head on, line-caught jumbo prawns, this "Old School" Pad Thai won me over with the depth of flavor, texture, and presentation. I was a fan of the rest of my lunch here as well! The fried organic hodo tofu was simple, but addictive when dipped in the sweet chili sauce. The grilled Gang-Rawang Steak came smothered with a southern style tangy green curry and was topped with a visually appealing salad of green and flower garnish. The Issan Sausage, made from grilled Northeastern-style fermented spicy pork, was a juicy flavor bomb. Their Thai Tea soft serve with coconut cream drizzle was literally icing on the cake of an amazing meal! This small spot in Berkeley is such a gem - amazing food that doesn't cut corners, passionate chef-owners, and friendly service.
Came here for an event so we were able to try a few of their top dishes. We had the crispy tofu, pad thai old school (with fried eggs), green curry beef, and soft served thai tea ice cream. Also came with blue rice. All the dishes were great, but what really stood out to me was the pad thai -- it was out of this world! I don't think I've had pad thai this good since I've been to Thailand! It was sooooo gooood! The flavors were great it had that sweetness with the citrus of the lime squeeze and had a lot of heat! It also comes with huge pieces of shrimp. The head chef/owner mentioned to us that the pad thai was spicy and he wasn't lying. It has that spiciness and flavor where it definitely has a kick, but you can't stop eating it because it's so addicting! Luckily I had a nice refreshing thai tea to cool down the burn a bit. I would come back for pad thai alone! It was that good. The owners were so nice and opened up this restaurant because they wanted to bring back those authentic Thailand flavors that they are use to back home and share it with their customers. Nothing made is frozen, everything is fresh. What's not to love!? A big thumbs up from me!
Exceptional service. We had walked in 5 minutes until closing... at first the server offered take out since they were closing. BUT, then she asked the owner, and they said we could go ahead and eat in!!! Being our first visit, they explained that all the sauces and seasoning were made in house which is amazing!!! The Iced Thai Tea was delicious. My daughter's Beef Short Ribs were flavorful and succulent. The jasmine rice was a fun bluish color... hence the funky. Speaking on funky... my daughter said there was a disco light ball in the bathroom!!! I'm kinda bummed out I didn't get to check that out!!! My Pad Thai was flavorful. It may look like a small portion. But it was quite filling.
Best Thai food in the US, hands down! You can never go wrong here. Excellent ingredients, polite and knowledgeable staff, great service. Be prepared for spicey though! Genuinely fantastic restaurant, you'll keep coming back!
We discovered this place right after we came back from a trip to Thailand, and immediately fell in love. The traditional flavors and methods are complimented by the passionate staff. Dishes can pack some heat, but are always well balanced, and they always ask for your comfort level with spice. This gem is a good thing in a small package, but with the outdoor seating, you can almost always sit right down.
1313 Ninth St, Berkeley, CA 94710