When it comes to property, it's a case of location, location & location! When it comes to restaurant, it's all in a name! That is, if your restaurant is known as Cabbages & Condoms!
This is quite a famous and popular restaurant in Bangkok on Sukhumvit Sol 12. I first learned about this restaurant from another traveler on VirtualTourist.com. Apparently, this is a must visit for many tourists in Bangkok. As some of you may know, other than a religious country, Thailand, especially with regard to Bagnkok, it is also a popular sex destination! There are moral issues when it comes to this topic but this is not a review about those issues.
As rampant as sex is available in this city, what is one to do in order to control the situation? Well, someone came up with a "brilliant" idea. He's Mechai Viravaidya who's an activist who popularized the idea of condoms in Thailand. As the chairman of PDA (Population & Community Development Association), the largest NGO in Thailand & also one that's been awarded the 2007 Gates Award (as in Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) of $1 million for its work in family planning & HIV/AIDS prevention, Viravaidya believes that to be successful in rural family planning, condoms have to be as easily accessible and accepted as cabbages! Hence, the name Cabbages & Condoms! Truly, I'm not kidding!
Well, you've to see it to believe it! The restaurant is decorated with condoms. I know, that sounds gross! But the food is great! At first I did have reservations about going to such a restaurant! I mean, what to expect? I've no idea! I'm curious though and anything that sparks my curiosity can't be bad, I figure ;-)
First, you've got to find the place though. The direction was easy enough. Just 5 mins walk into Sukhumvit Sol 12 which is directly across from the hotel I was staying in. Well, I walked and walked. Saw the sign but where is the restaurant? I walked right past it and knew I had overshot when I saw Ramada. There was a foreign couple behind me and they mentioned about going into Ramada to ask. I guessed they were heading to the same place. So, I walked back to where I found the sign and true enough, there was a path leading into the restaurant. It was a late afternoon, after 2 pm and there wasn't any crowd. Just some in the air conditioned part of the restaurant. There is also the open-air beer garden area but since it was a hot afternoon, no one was sitting there.
So, what's so special about this restaurant? Well, you gonna get lots of condoms, esp. in its decor! Take a look!
What is a restaurant without the right food? Well, this one has all that Thai cuisine has and more. Some of the specialty dishes include the following:
Samlee Det Deao (mouthwatering deep fried cotton fish with mango & chili sauce)
Chicken in Herb Leaf Bikini (deep fried chicken wrapped in pandan leaves)
Tom Kah Kai (chicken breast in coconut milk and galanga soup)
Gung Obb Mapraow On (steamed prawn in whole coconut)
Spicy Condom Salad (A naughty combination of Shanghai noodles garnishes with chili sauce and herbs)
So, there you've it! Well, since I was just recovering from my sore-throat, I opted something different with less chili (as specifically ordered by my physician, no chilli! Of course, I cheated a little...).
Here they are:
Pla Ka Pong Nueng Ma Nao (Seabass in lemon sauce) - a popular way of cooking fish which you can eat elsewhere in Thailand as well. I love fish and thought this to be quite good price. A whole seabass at 350 thai baht (before taxes and service charges of 17%) is quite reasonable. In Thai terms, it might be a tad more expensive than the normal restaurants. However, if you've been to Bangkok before, you'd know it all depends on where you eat rather than what you eat! There is a wide range of pricing of the same dish.
Poo lone (Steamed crab in coconut fish sauce) - this is something which I've not tried before. It is a little similar to Lalap in Indonesia where raw vegetables (salad) is eaten with some cooked meat, in this case, crab meat. Quite tasty although a tad sweeter than what I'd enjoyed. At 200 baht, it is reasonable.
Coconut juice - Love this especially in the warm weather of Bangkok.
Water chestnut dessert - I forgot the name in Thai but this is the red rubies in coconut juice which can be seen almost in all Thai restaurant. I was reasonably full by the time I finished the fish so I simply ordered something light.
All in all, I enjoyed my 2 lunch visits to Cabbages & Condoms. I'm pretty sure I'd be back again in future to try out its green & red curries. If you're in Bangkok or the vicinity, you might like to visit this restaurant run by the PDA. There is also a handicraft shop at the entrance to the restaurant whereby sale proceeds are used to fund development and social welfare activities of the PDA.
Other branches of C&C Restaurant can be found at:
Nakhon Ratchsima: 86/1 Suebsiri Road, Nai Muang Sub District, Muang District Nakhonratchasima Province. Tel: (044) 258100-2
Vieng Pa Pao: 153 Moo 6 Pa Ngiew Sub District, Viengpapao District, Chiangrai Province. Tel: (053) 952131