My husband and I were lucky enough to visit Thailand for our honeymoon in May of this year. We were recommended this place by several people before our trip to Thailand, and, despite hubby being a little concerned by the name, we decided to give it a go.
We did some research online before we went, and their website states - 'Our restaurant was conceptualized in part to promote better understanding and acceptance of family planning and to generate income to support various development activities of the Population and Community Development Association (PDA)'. So it's all for charity and to help local people - sounded good to us!
We didn't have long in Bangkok, and decided that we would visit this restaurant on our first night there. We had only arrived at our hotel at around 5pm, so were pretty exhausted. The restaurant is off Sukhumvit Road and it is easy to get the skytrain here, which we did. Unfortunately, the restaurant is pretty well hidden from the main road and the only reason we found it was because I saw the name in lights in the distance as we were crossing the road on a bridge!
You have to walk down a couple of questionable alleys to get to the restaurant, and considering this was our first experience of Thailand, we were a little dubious to say the least. But, we continued and were soon greeted by the 'Cabbages & Condoms - our food is guaranteed not to cause pregnancy' sign!
We were asked where we would like to sit, and I asked for the courtyard, which I had been recommended. It was a really lovely outside area, although it was very warm. This may just have been highlighted by the fact that it was our first night in Thailand. There were some suspended fans, although we didn't seem to have one near us. Fairy lights are strung up everywhere and it is really pretty. It is a fantastic place, and they have been very creative with the use of the condoms - all of the lightshades are made of condoms and there are lots of statues too - fascinating!
There was plenty of choice on the menus for us, and, although it was in Thai, there was an English translation. For a starter, my husband had satay chicken and I had minced chicken and corn served in waffle cups. This was possibly the best starter I have ever tasted! Having had Thai food in England and loved it, in Thailand it's a whole different ball game - EVERYTHING is so incredibly tasty.
For our main courses we had a Green Chicken Curry and a Red Prawn Curry. From my experience before, green curries have always been the milder option, but this doesn't seem to be the case in Thailand. Both were very spicy, but so tasty that you just couldn't stop eating!!! The prawns in my red curry were huge, and it was all beautifully cooked.
Following the meal, we were given our bill. We were amused to see that, instead of an after dinner mint, you were given condoms instead!
The food was really lovely and the atmosphere sitting outside in the courtyard was perfect. It's very reasonable and probably the cheapest place that we ate in Bangkok (excluding street food!). I think that the 2 course meal for both of us, plus 4 drinks, ended up costing less than £15! The waiting staff were very friendly and couldn't do enough to help you.
After our meal, we visited the shop, which had all kinds of condom related gifts - some of which were hilarious! They also sold handicraft items made by Thai people, which were really beautiful.
All in all, we had a really wonderful experience with Cabbages & Condoms and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this place to anyone coming to Bangkok. If we had stayed for longer, we would certainly have eaten here again. The fact that you are actually helping local people by visiting, just tops off what was a really great night out.
Lets think of a cabbage!
A fairly ordinary vegetable that can be boiled away to a green tasteless mulch, something which I would dread being served a few years ago!
I thought how much better the world would be without cabbage, I mean there are plenty of other decent vegetables such as carrots and sweetcorn.
Years later, I realised that it wasn't the cabbage I hated, but the way it was aggressively boiled by my Mother! I'm sure there are many others who can relate to this experience.
In Thailand of course, it is a different story. Here is land who have developed the most amazing fiery and sensational dishes; spicy and fragrant creations laced with coconut; sex on a plate really!
"Who mentioned sex? I was thinking about cabbage!"
Well.... In Thailand, the cabbage is a familiar everyday food, as much a part of life as a tea-bag is here in the UK.
Until recently, something equally familiar to the Thais was a huge birth rate, and the proliferation of AIDS. Yep, they were at it like rabbits, and society was struggling to cope.
If only condoms were as common as cabbages!
And hence, Cabbages and Condoms.
Its a very popular restaurant just off the busy Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok.
This restaurant is run by Thailand's Population and Community Development Association, whose founder, former Thai senator Mechai Viravaidya, believes "birth control should be as cheap as cabbages"hence the restaurant's name!
Proceeds from the restaurant go towards birth control projects and AIDS awareness projects. Viravaidya has become a popular figure amongst Thais for all his hard work in promoting the association's work. Amongst the folk of Bangkok and those who visit, he has also gained a fine reputation for his restaurant.
So much so, that a second C&C has been established in the Pattaya resort.
I visited his restaurant in Bangkok last year, based on various recommendations, including that of the grail of travelling; The Lonely Planet book!
First things first. Any visitor to Bangkok will not go hungry, neither will they struggle to find an eating place, and most importantly; he/she will enjoy the food that this city throws at them!
So therefore, I figured it would be good to check out C&C, knowing that the profits were driving birth control schemes throughout Bangkok and rural Thailand.
Arriving, I was so impressed by the decor. Tens of Thousands of white fairy lights draped from the canopies, fluttering in the night breeze. Plenty of candles too, and the sounds of hundreds of diners chatter, punctuated by noisy sizzling dishes wafting aroma in to the night air. I was salivating. Surveying the huge dining area, I spotted as many Thai couples/groups as I did Westerners. Wherever I go in the World, a useful barometer of reputation is the ratio of locals to tourists in a restaurant.
Have a look round. There are condoms everywhere, in frames on the walls, and under glass table tops. So many colours, so many patterns, ribbed, studded, and then some proper huge ones. Having been so hungry that I could have eaten a horse, I was staring at a condom that could have suited that horse!
Staff are everywhere, and are very attentive.... too attentive in fact that they seem to irritate. Having been seated in a non-smoking area, I explained that I had requested a smoking table. Two seperate people arrived to apologise, and then a guy in a suit told me we could move to the smokers pit (sorry; bit!) though by this stage I was in too involved with my main course to care.
So, "Who's for starters?"
"But we're on main course!"
Yep, lots of attentive staff, but the food came in the wrong order. Still, this was just a personal experience. I may have been unlucky, it was busy after all!
The menus are in English and Thai, as is the standard in Thailand, and a variety of courses with wine cost just over £10 for two of us. Speaking of the wine, the bottle was placed too far away from us, in a cooler. Have a sip from your glass, and an overly attentive waiter/waitress appears from nowhere to top it up. I personally, do not like this sort of service, and appreciate being left alone to get on with my meal. Maybe others will enjoy the standards, but I felt it all a bit over the top. And besides, attentive waiters should have seated me in a smoking area (like I asked for), and sent me my food in the order I asked for! Lets get the basics right guys!
So hows about the food? Well, it simply is great. Every dish arrived ornately presented, dressed with some amazing garnishes such as flower-shaped carrots, an amazing feat of 3-D sculpture.... this is very good food.
Very good food in a city of... well, errrr..... 'Very good food!'
So, a sticking point here. C&C is great, barring a few flaws which may have been incidental to my visit. But the standard is comparable to so many other places in Bangkok.
C&C stands out for its social welfare connections, and its always packed. But It does not scream "Amazing" across the city rooftops and temples.
I would recommend it, but I would also recommend you going somewhere else!
C&C is a nice evening experience along the otherwise chaotic Sukhumvit Road. The decor is heavenly and its busy environment feels special. The menu is extensive, and the food is great. It is still the most expensive meal I had in all of Thailand, but hardly dented my spending money. Put in to a Western perspective, this is still a very good value meal.
"After dinner mint guys?"
Sorry, no mints here, aside from my bill, there were two condoms on the saucer!
I guess its a nice touch, and it reminds you of what they are trying to do.
I left these on the plate, having sensibly brought a supply from GB with me. Besides, on return to our hotel, my partner washed her hair.