tasted on December 4, 2005 — The name of this restaurant
certainly gets your attention. And it's meant to. Luckily,
Cabbages & Condoms is not a reference to the menu, but rather is
the name for the broader hotel and restaurant chain that is
dedicated to raising money for a non-profit that among other things
supports family planning and anti-AIDS efforts (Population
and Community Development Association). You would think that a
restaurant in service of a charity would feel it could rest on its
good works rather than focus on making great food. You would be
Cabbages & Condoms is located down a side street (a
"soi") in a busy Bangkok neighborhood. That description, however,
works for pretty much every restaurant in Bangkok that's not on a
main drag. The almost alley-like street from which you enter gives
you the impression that the restaurant will be tucked away and
small. It's tucked away, but certainly not small. It's huge in fact.
As you pass the handicraft store and the buckets of condoms you
large open air space threaded with little white lights. Like a
lameass, I opted for the indoor air-conditioned dining room.
As I sat down, the ridiculously attentive but not
overly familiar service resulted in a dish of delicious super savory
Brown Rice Crackers arrived in front of me. They were like a rice
cracker and an
cracker had babies that preserved the best
aspects of both. Yummy.
The first of the items I ordered arrived -
Chaw Muang. It was steamed minced chicken and onion wrapped in
dough. It was chewy, doughy, soft, and slightly sweet, and...
purple! Cool. Super yummy dumplings.
Next up was
Yum Nuea Yang, Thai spicy and sour salad of pan-grilled beef.
This dish was super fresh bright, tangy, and spicy. Pretty great.
This was followed by
Moo Tod Kra Tiem Phrik Thai,
deep-fried pork with
pepper and garlic. The pork was not delicate but in a good way but
not overbattered. It was super savory without any accompaniment
whatsoever. That said, the dried, fried, onion shavings added some
good flavor as well. I'm pretty sure this was the best schnitzel
I've ever had in my entire life.
that accompanied the dishes was so fragrant. perfumed, and light. Delicious.
Thinly sliced cucumbers were everywhere. Super crisp and light. And
of course, never mealy.
The meal was interesting as there were were really three distinct flavor profiles
represented by each of the dishes. But once I got the essence of
each dish I found myself mixing bits and pieces from each and
enjoying the novel combinations.
this point during my time in Bangkok I had everything from
street food to mom and pop hole-in-the-wall to big family and
tourist restaurant to hotel high-end refined. And frankly all
rocked. Is it possible to get
bad Thai food here? Do I just have an incredibly low bar? I've
mentioned before how tough it is to do all this eating eating on my own.
I can't really finish everything I order.
At Cabbages & Condoms I did. I couldn't help myself. It was just so
good (and of course cheap). Thai cooking is based on a deep
understanding of flavor and making sure it exists in each dish in
generous quantities. But let's be clear on something, strong flavors
don't mean there isn't subtlety. There is. Plenty. Strong flavors
interwoven in subtle combinations.
After dinner, instead of a mint with the check they
give you a
condom. Of course.
Tomorrow I try to learn how to cook some Thai food