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Bangkok: Authentic Thai cuisine, with a side of condoms

Even the lights are made of condoms at Bangkok's Cabbages and Condoms Restaurant.

Despite the fact that condoms save more lives than North Korea has soldiers, people still blush when buying them at their local convenience store.

Cabbages and Condoms Restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand, aims to change that, taking the shame out of sex with a latex carnival of things made from condoms: lights, giant Christmas trees, dresses, hats, police officers, a life-size Santa Claus and even Santa’s reindeer.

Their food is “guaranteed not to cause pregnancy,” as their motto states, but will satisfy that desire for quality authentic Thai cuisine at an affordable price. The money raised from the restaurant goes to Thailand’s non-profit Population and Community Development Association, which funnels it back into the community for health related initiatives, so your dining experience is not only tasty and entertaining but also altruistic.

Cabbages and Condoms was created by the PDA after their founding in 1974 to educate, promote family planning and generate income to support PDA activities, which include rural outreach, targeted campaigns and contraceptive distribution. The restaurant not only became a place where local young people could learn a trade and make some money working to support their families, but also a great way to spread the safe sex message and get condoms into the community.

Located conveniently in one of metropolitan Bangkok’s main business districts, Cabbages and Condoms Restaurant — with its colorful, fun and festive atmosphere — has blossomed into a condom flowered phenomenon and a must-see for travelers visiting the beautiful Thai capital. It has spawned 11 satellite restaurants in Thailand, resorts, hotels and even a franchise in Kumamoto, Japan’s shopping arcade.

The chefs at Cabbages and Condoms use local Thai staples such as lemon grass, hot chilies, ginger and green peppercorns in their cooking to give each meal that authentic taste. Their specialty dishes include Massaman Curry, which is chicken, beef or lamb sweet curry with potatoes; green curry, Phad Thai Goong Sod, which is stir fried rice noodles with shrimp; Po Pia Tod, which is deep fried vegetable and glass noodle rolls; and Tom Yam Goong, a spicy shrimp soup.

Meals at Cabbages and Condoms cost anywhere from 120 to 470 Baht, or about $3.60 to $14.29, but the majority is on the lower end of that scale. Its Satay Moo and Kai, which is marinated grilled pork and chicken skewers (150 Baht), are as good as any you will find in Thailand. They are clean and of the highest quality, especially when compared with the skewers hawked all over Bangkok by street vendors. They also stand up to most other Thai food restaurants in and outside of Thailand.

Their Moo and Nuea Dad Diew, a deep fried sun-dried pork or beef tenderloin (170/250 Baht) was equally delicious, cooked to a crispy, chewy perfection.

Another special dish was the Gang Phed Ped Yang, which is roast duck curry with green pepper and coconut (250 Baht). The spice numbs the tongue yet doesn’t mask the flavor of the duck, which melts in your mouth.

Other notable dishes include the Phad Pak Ruam Mit, which was sauteed mixed vegetables (120 Baht); Tung Thong, which is deep fried chicken and black mushrooms in flour bags (120 Baht); and Poo Nim Phad Phrik Thai Dum, which is soft-shell crab stir fried with black pepper and bell chili (350 Baht).

Cabbages and Condoms has an extensive wine menu starting at 220 Baht per glass and liquor menu starting at 100 Baht for a glass of Thai whiskey, or 140 Baht for Jameson. Deserts are under 100 Baht generally, except for a banana split at 150 Baht.

After the meal, patrons receive a condom — for men or women — instead of a dinner mint. You can come to Cabbages and Condoms for any number of reasons, whether it be for a drink, good food or a laugh at the expense of their Cops In Rubbers. One thing is for certain, however, you can feel good about every dollar spent; you could actually save a life.

burke.matt@stripes.com

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