A healthy chili kick and plenty of options greet diners at 9Chan Thai in Landstuhl
Stars and Stripes March 9, 2023
The last time I ate Thai food in Germany, I wanted to cry from disappointment.
The pad thai was bland and the green curry didn’t taste like green curry. I recognized none of spicy, sweet, sour and salty hallmarks of Thai cooking.
On a recent lunch outing to 9Chan, a Thai restaurant in Landstuhl, I really did cry, this time because my mouth was on fire from the pad kapao, or stir-fried holy basil. The red chili peppers immediately made my eyes water.
This was Thai food that brought back memories of the streets of Bangkok.
A friend told me about 9Chan while raving about the restaurant’s tilapia. She says the fish is so good, she never orders anything else.
I was intrigued and decided to check it out.
You can opt for either a fried whole tilapia or a fried filet of pangasius, which is a catfish native to south Asia. Sauce choices include sweet and sour, spicy curry, homemade chili and 9Chan’s own blend of ginger, garlic, onion, lime and chili paste.
I was tempted, but for the sake of variety I wanted to see if something else on the menu lived up to the level of the fish hype.
That was no easy feat. The menu is 17 pages, complete with color photos of each entrée. It’s divided into seven sections: appetizers, soup, curry, rice dishes, noodle dishes, fish and dessert. Many options involve choosing a meat, a sauce and other toppings.
That’s a lot of decision making, especially for the indecisive-minded people of the world, such as myself.
After thumbing through the menu for nearly 15 minutes and turning my server away three times with the promise that I only needed a few more minutes, I finally asked for a recommendation.
I settled on pad kapao, one of the more popular meals in Thailand. It’s considered a street food, the country’s equivalent of the hamburger.
The dish traditionally features minced meat and rice with a healthy dose of heat. But at 9Chan, you can choose between vegetables, tofu, chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, crispy duck or seafood. I chose chicken.
The meat was mixed with crispy green beans, onion, red chili pepper and holy basil. Holy basil tends to be more peppery than sweet. I wasn’t sure what was in the savory brown sauce that accompanied the meat, but pad kapao typically is made with the trinity of Thai sauces — fish, soy and oyster.
I asked for “medium spice,” which set my mouth on fire.
I’m glad I also ordered tom kah, a fragrant, creamy coconut milk-based soup seasoned with ginger and lemongrass, and bursting with tangy flavor. I opted for tofu, which came with mushrooms and thinly sliced pieces of crispy carrot. The coconut milk helped cool my palate.
9Chan has been open for a little over two years, run by a Thai staff. It’s relatively popular but not packed for lunch. The restaurant opens at 11 a.m. and I was the first customer 15 minutes later. By noon, about half of the restaurant’s 10 tables (by my count) were occupied.
A few Tripadvisor reviews called it the best Thai food in town. I can’t say for sure whether that’s true since there are some I haven’t tried. But based on my first meal there and the others I’ve been to, I would be surprised if there were better choices around.
Address: Kaiserstrasse 40, 66849 Landstuhl
Prices: Starters range from 4.50 euros to 19.50 euros (the latter for the papaya salad with pickled fish and crab); soups start at 4.90 euros. Main dishes range from 10.50 euros to 20.50 euros.
Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, open all day, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; closed Tuesdays.
Information: +49 (0) 637162594, firstname.lastname@example.org