Berkeley is definitely a hodge-podge kind of a city, no question! I love brunch so much (in fact, I would say that it is my favorite meal of the day!) but, I have never ever had a Sunday Brunch experience like this! Wat Mongkolratanaram is a Thai Buddhist Temple that serves traditional Thai food to the public every Sunday. Patrons to Wat Mongkolratanaram pay tokens in exchange for their meals. Once you enter Wat Mongkolratanaram, you can exchange your money for tokens. 1 dollar = 1 token.
In terms of location, its address is 1911 Russell St. Berkeley, CA 94703 and it is placed right dab in the middle of a residential neighborhood. In fact, other than its decoration at the top of the temple, its outward appearance is still a residential home.
When you first get to the temple, you need to get in line to get the tokens. There is actually a token stand, to exchange your money for tokens! Don’t worry if you get too many tokens, because you can always exchange them back to US currency afterwards.
In terms of the food options, Wat Mongkolratanaram is very people-accessible. They have options for vegetarians, meat-eaters, and any combination of the two. They offer soups, salads, rice, drinks and desserts. Fall into any line you wish and choose your order! I thought that their portions were so generous! Matty & I were both able to stuff ourselves for less than 20 tokens, or $20, which is significantly less than what we have spent at other brunch locations!
We got: the 7-token 2-item combo, with Beef Panang Curry & Pork with Green beans, which was served with rice. We also got 4 giant spring rolls for 6 tokens. In terms of our drinks, we got a Thai Iced Tea & a Thai Iced Coffee for 2 tokens each! In all, the meal itself cost us 17 tokens! 🙂 Everything was delicious. For me, the Beef Panang Curry and the Pork with Green Beans was better than the spring rolls because the meat and veggies were saturated with just the right flavors
for me to just want to keep eating … and eating … 🙂
In terms of seating,Wat Mongkolratanaram offers communal seating with lots of long tables and benches that are set up. Basically, grab your food and grab a seat! If you want to be super strategic about it, you can have a friend snag a seat while the other(s) grab the food! Luckily, Matty and I arrived early so seating was not too much of an issue … but I imagine that if you arrive after 11:00., then seating could get quite crowded.
Even though I was completely stuffed with spring roll, rice, meat, and veggies, not to mention the deliciously sweet Thai iced tea & coffee, I convinced Matty to buy me the mango sticky rice (5 tokens), which I confess that I dug into the moment we got in the car. Remember how I said that the Beef Panang Curry & Pork with Green Beans was delicious? The Mango Sticky Rice was EVEN BETTER!!!
If any of y’all are Berkeley students or live in the Bay Area, make sure to take some time for Wat Mongkolratanaram Thai Temple brunch this Sunday! Grab your fambam, or a partner, or some friends and enjoy the amazinggggggg flavors at Wat Mongkolratanaram! 🙂