For several weeks we have been driving down the road at night past a place on the roadside between the road and the river that has lots of smoke and noise coming from it and lots of motor bikes parked across the frontage. So we thought it was a hangout for youngsters smoking and doing the other things youngsters are reputed to get up to. Anyway, one evening curiosity got the better of us and we parked opposite and wandered (as Wombats do) in through the wall of motor bikes to see what went on in there. (Just an aside re parking. Someone, maybe the guy who has a vacant lot next door and charges 50 baht to park there, usually puts rubber cones or chairs / stools on the roadside to stop parking on the road, or someone who wants to reserve the spot for themselves, so we simply move them and park. When they come to say something and see two old farangs get out of the car they back off immediately as they know talking to us is useless, they won’t understand us and we just stare at them and give a thumbs up with a smile and say “OK?” … Works every time.) 🙂
To our surprise it turned out to be a BBQ restaurant that was packed (very popular) and there were a large number of tables and also electric cable holders turned on their side with oil drums and cushions for seats. On every table was an iron ring on which was placed a terracotta burner filled with charcoal with a grill across the top. There was also a gas burner and stainless steel bowl which contained stock for soup. (Look at the pictures and it will become clear).
Down the middle of the eatery (I hate the word restaurant as it gives a very different perspective) is a long table filled with salad greens, vegetable greens, mushrooms of various varieties, carrots, pumpkin and other “unknown” bits. There are trays of tiny sausages on skewers along with tofu, meat balls, fish balls etc. Then there are trays of chicken meat, and a few other meats of dubious origin and trays of crabs, prawns large and small, clams, scallops in the shell, fish fillets, squid, sea snails, clams and even cooked French Fries? There are also large bowls of dipping sauces to which you can help your self .
The idea works like this: You simply go and help yourselves to ANYTHING and as much as you want, baskets and dishes are supplied. Then just cook any way you want. We threw the long cooking items in the stock first then as they cook the more tender pieces and maybe some prawns, chicken, fish or whatever along with some dipping sauce to enhance the flavour.
Then the crabs, sausages, prawns, scallops etc etc go on the BBQ. We saw then why there was so much smoke wafting out onto the street 🙂 You can return again and again to replenish your BBQ and soup bowl.
This place is built as a “breeze through” open at the river end so you can have a table on the river bank and open to the street at the other end. The best tables are at the river end as the smoke from the cooking does waft through to the street end and that end tends to be very smokey along with your shirt which will need a wash, along with your pants as the juices from the seafood and meats seem to find their way there. 🙁
The rules are: Eat as much as you like !!! and believe me some of the younger Thais must only eat once a week as the plastic bowls that you fill with food were piled seven to ten high on their tables. We noticed that many were there eating main course when we arrived and were STILL going, loading up the BBQ when we left an hour or so later after eating our fill including fresh fruit and ice cream for dessert, did I forget to mention that 🙂
We were the only “Farangs” in the place but we found the locals were only too happy to show us “the ropes” including telling the staff that “There were no large prawns or crabs left on the table for the two old Farangs” so they brought more out. To date we have visited this eatery on two occasions and certainly intend returning again.
What is the cost? You pay 199 baht each for the BBQ and 59 baht for the soup bowl so for two so total cost for two is 457 baht ($15.20AU) 🙂
The Wombats were happy. 🙂