on July 27, 2007
Don't be misled by the restaurant's odd name or put off by the array of contraceptive devices for sale. This very popular place raises funds for the Population & Community Development Association, the country's family planning program. The complex is a restaurant, bar, internet café, massage shop, and gift shop all rolled into one. It is a ‘must-go’ place. Arriving recently with friends, we were all so impressed by the decor. Most prominent were the tens of thousands of white fairy lights draped from the canopies, fluttering in the night breeze. There were plenty of candles too, and the sounds of hundreds of diners chattering, punctuated by noisy sizzling dishes wafting a great aroma into the night air. I spotted as many Thai couples/groups as I did Westerners. Set in a large compound, the two-story restaurant has an air-conditioned indoor dining area-- but if you sit on the garden terrace, you're in a fairyland of twinkling lights which is quite romantic. Have a look round. There are condoms everywhere, in frames on the walls, and under glass tabletops. So many colours, so many patterns, ribbed, studded, and then some plain huge ones.Business at the bustling downtown eatery is clearly excellent. While most people probably go for the novelty value the first time, they come back for the food. This has been consistently rated one of the best restaurants in Bangkok. You'll find the food here excellently prepared and presented. Every dish arrives ornately dressed with some amazing garnishes such as flower-shaped carrots.Here are some of my recommended dishes:Vegetarian – green curry with tofu and vegetables (Bt120)Appetizers – Thung Thong, deep fried chicken and mushroom in flour (Bt100)Soup – Gang Leang Noppokao, vegetables with shrimp in spicy shrimp paste (Bt180)Curry – Hor Moke Taley, steamed seafood with coconut and vegetables in banana leaf (Bt 200)Mains – Pla ka Pong Nueng ma Nao, steamed whole seabass with chili, lemons, and vegetables (bt350)Dessert – Mango and sweet rice (Bt90).Fruit juice is 80 Baht a glass and beer 90 Baht a small bottle.All diners get a condom with coffee, instead of an after-dinner mint. You might also want to have a Thai foot massage (15 minutes for 60Baht), use the internet or have a quiet drink in the Captain Condom lounge.Before you leave, be sure to check out the gift shop's whimsical condom-related merchandise. Piles of T-shirts are emblazoned with the message, "Cabbages and Condoms, Our food is guaranteed not to cause pregnancy." Proceeds from the sale of these items and the restaurant’s meals are given to the Population and Community Development Association, a non-profit organization founded in 1974 by the very popular Mechai Viravaidya, the former Thai Minister of Health.Mechai has an aim. He wants to make condoms as common--and as accepted--as cabbages. The restaurant is doing just that while providing a unique experience to all visitors. The restaurant opens from 11am.
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