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Galanga THAI Café: Café by the Castle

My friends often ask for advice when they come to Copenhagen. Aside from Copenhagen city centre, I usually encourage them to make a day-trip to Hillerød for Frederiksborg Castle — probably the most romantic castle in Denmark. I have been there several times myself and I still like to visit on occasion since it’s not too far from Copenhagen and I really like to soak up the laid-back atmosphere around the castle.

Conveniently located in front of a bus stop, getting to Frederiksborg Castle is easy using public transportation. From Copenhagen Central Station travel time to Hillerød is about 50 minutes by train. From there you can either jump on a bus or walk for about 20 minutes to the castle. You can easily spend 3 hours walking inside the castle and the surrounding area. Once you exit the castle, there are plenty of shops, cafés and restaurants where you can enjoy the rest of the day before heading back to Copenhagen.

One of the newest to arrive on the scene is Galanga THAI Café, directly opposite to the castle. This recently-opened hard-to-miss café has a mural painting of the castle at its entrance, perfectly setting the tone for the artsy ambience of the place. As we stepped inside and sat down at a chicly decorated roundtable it was with equal amounts of craving and curiosity. We ordered our food right away and then took some time to look around and take in the vibe.

The food arrived on beautifully carved wooden plates. Very decorative and fitting with the theme. We had Salmon Larb and Marinated Grilled Beef with Spicy Sauce and Salad. As expected, the fishy larb was crunchy and spicy, just the way we like it. The beef was juicy, too. So no complaints. For me, however, what stands out about Galanga THAI Café is the concept. So having satisfied my hunger, my inquisitive side kicked in. Most people size up and make assumptions when they see a dining place with the word “Thai” in it. Usually “Thai” means either take-away or restaurant. Or both. However, as the owner, Ying, told me, she has a different vision.

She already owns a Thai take-away on the outskirts of Copenhagen, so with Galanga THAI Café she aims to tap into the lucrative café market, putting a Thai twist on the traditional (Danish) café experience. She envisions a “Thai” establishment which serves not just Red Curry and Pad Thai but also coffee and cake. Of course, the risk, of which Ying is all too aware, is that she tries to cater to two, perhaps, mutually exclusive groups of people. So it’s a bold move. She is striking a delicate balance, but I for one will keep my fingers crossed because it’s a strong concept. Unique even. One can only hope that the ambiguity turns out to be an asset rather than the opposite. While I was sitting there, a couple of college students came in for coffee and cake. So perhaps there is no need to worry. Ying might have hit the bull’s eye after all.

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