I’d like the grilled fish with mango and a condom, please.
In Bangkok there’s a lunch and dinner spot where you can utter that sentence to your waiter without it being the punch line of some (probably not very good) joke. Tucked away on one of the Thai capital’s many side streets is the Cabbages and Condoms Restaurant.
C & C, as its regulars call it, was founded in 1992 by a physician to raise money for—and awareness of—AIDS prevention. In fact, as you walk through the palm trees that mark the establishment’s entrance you’ll find yourself not in a restaurant but in a gift shop. The store offers a surreal display of local Thai handicrafts being sold next to instructional safe sex pamphlets, which are next to beautiful silk wall hangings, which are next to shirts constructed entirely of condoms.
The actual restaurant eating areas of Cabbages and Condoms are in rooms downstairs from the shop level, on a rooftop deck upstairs and outside in the courtyard garden. Unless you are in dire need of air-conditioning ask for a table in the latter section. There’s quite a cool vibe out in the courtyard, which is adorned by trees festooned with lights and flowers and, of course, condoms; imagine some tropical safe sex-themed jungle.
As for the food, the menu offerings are traditional Thai. Try the Pad Thai Gung Sod (stir fried noodles and shrimp) with an order of Som Tam Thai (papaya salad). The restaurant tends to severely dial down the spice level for meals ordered by farang (non-Asian looking people). If you want your food spiced Thai style you’ll have to not only ask the waitstaff for that but also convince them you know what you are getting into. Prices are a little high compared to comparable Bangkok restaurants. But then 100% of the restaurant’s proceeds go to a good cause.
At the end of your meal your bill will come with, you guessed it, a complimentary condom. Which could be useful if you’ve gone out to eat with a significant other and want to head back to your hotel for, um, “dessert.”
Note: There are six C & C restaurants around Thailand. The one reviewed is at 10 Sukhumvit Soi 12, Bangkok, Tel. (02) 229-4610
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