I'd heard of the restaurant, and I'd intended to check it out sometime. Sometime was tonight.
Cabbages and Condoms
10 Sukumvit Soi 12
Tel: +18.104.22.16810 or 4611
BTS Skytrain: Nana (E3) or Askok (E4)
(branches in Nakhon Ratchasima, Vieng Pa Pao, Chiang Rai, Nang Rong, and resort and restaurant in Pattaya)
Cabbages and Condoms is unique. It supports a development NGO, the Population and Community Development Association (PDA). The restaurant was founded by Mechai Viravaidya, who is known in Thailand as Mr. Condom, for his work in promoting family planning and condom usage. The restaurant decorations tastefully present condom packaging and posters. Instead of after-dinner mints, they offer condoms. (No, they're not mint-flavored.) All proceeds go towards the PDA's community-based family planning and development projects.
Walking into the restaurant, you find yourself in an oasis of green in Bangkok's concrete. The trees around you are decorated with strings of white lights hanging from branches.
So, how's the food? Not bad. I had the pork satay appetizer. The order of eight small skewers, marinated in a cumin curry, was B.120 ($2.90). It really didn't require any extra flavor but it came with the traditional peanut sauce, a sweet cucumber/onion/chili water, and a slice of toast.
I saw fried soft-shelled crab on the specials menu (at B.250, or $6.05, the most expensive item) and decided to have that as my main course. It came lightly breaded, with a salty topping of fried onions and capers, with a few sprigs of cilantro on top. Cucumbers, tomatoes, and shredded cabbage/carrot were on the side, which helped cut the saltiness of the topping. The suggested jasmine rice (B.40, 97 cents) was disappointing as it turned out to be brown rice, a bit dry and hard.
The menu is in Thai, English, and Japanese. Each item is pictured in color. Staff speak English. You can sit outside in the tropically decorated courtyard, under the tree canopy, or you can choose an air-conditioned indoor area, which is less atmospheric, but cooler.
There's a handicrafts shop, which showcases products from villages around Thailand. Again, proceeds benefit the PDA.
It's a bit farther down Sukumvit Soi 12 than you think it might be, given the building number of "10". Just walk past the massage parlor and the "Turkish" bath (yes, this *is* Bangkok) and you'll find it a couple hundred meters down.