Ok, so it wasn’t a soup kitchen in the traditional sense. It wasn’t there to feed the homeless and it wasn’t run by volunteers. Situated on the main street of Chaweng Beach, this cheap looking venture is actually a restaurant, and a very good one at that.
If there is a prime example for not judging on appearance, then this is it. The open fronted building is more of a shelter, consisting of two walls and a roof. Plastic chairs and tables spill out onto the pavement, each one covered with a red and white plastic tablecloth. A small, low-walled garden houses potted plants and trees, creating a haven for birds who fly in and out. One wall is devoted to pictures of items from the menu, the other to offerings for Thai gods and the burning of incense. The industrial kitchen is located in a corner, in full view of the customers who can watch their food being prepared from start to finish by a production line. Unlike other restaurants, the food here is created from scratch; even the vegetables are chopped to order.
And this is what makes the place so good. It has an extensive menu, and each dish is cooked to order in the traditional Thai style. If you want something that isn’t on the menu, they’ll make it for you. It’s this attention to detail that makes this restaurant so successful; at peak times it can be difficult to find a table, each one occupied by locals and travellers alike. The food is extremely cheap; a meal and a drink cost around £1.50, and was one of the best meals I’ve had. It is a local venture, owned and run by the Thai community. We tried to leave a tip for roughly the same price as the meal and the staff refused it as they felt it was too much; eventually they agreed on the equivalent of about 50p. Both the food and service are excellent, proving that (in this case at least!) appearances can be deceiving.
Unfortunately I have no idea what it was called, but it shouldn’t be hard to find….