Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Bog Standard: Why Some Restaurants Just Aren't Flushed With Success...

I am continually bowled over by how much restaurant toilets vary in Thailand. You get everything from plush lavatories with fresh hand-towels, hand cream, incense, and a lollipop man to, well, let’s not go there.

The importance of good toilets is something that’s often overlooked by eateries, both in Thailand and back in Blightie and beyond. In Bangkok, for instance, I know many Thai and farang customers who choose a place as much for the cleanliness of the powder rooms as for the food.

Most restaurants that have been built in the last ten years or so in the Land of Piles, sorry Smiles, usually have decent toilets. But it’s a shame that many of the older, and in many cases far better restaurants, don’t have lavs that match their wonderful cooking.

There is a fantastic place near Nana Plaza, Bangkok, that is sometimes so packed you have to stand on the pavement and wait for a table to leave before you can tuck into their incredible roast duck and curries. I’ve seen Thais standing around for 40 minutes before getting a seat, the food is that good.

But when I went there, I couldn’t believe the toileting arrangements. When I asked the direction to the gents, the owner looked at me in slight surprise as though it was the first time she’d ever been asked.

Then she escorted me down a side street, and waited at the top of it while I relieved myself behind the bins. I felt quite awkward standing there with the old chap unzipped as people strolled by.

But the stench was far worse, stirring unpleasant memories of Glastonbury. So bad in fact that I couldn’t finish the rest of my delicious meal. The smell of nam pla no longer had the same appeal, for some reason.

Thailand also goes in for novelty toilets in a big way, like the picture (above) I took in a restaurant in Chiang Mai. But there is definitely a limit. The one (below) from an eatery in Chonburi Province is wrong on so many levels, it’s not true.

Its Canadian head chef apparently brought the tissue holder over from Vancouver. If I saw that I’d never dine there again. As I say, the importance of toilets to a restaurant's takings often falls between the, er, cracks.


aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Encountered some, er, interesting lavs in Japan, but nothing on a par with these! ;)

Joshua said...

The toilets are one of the greatest things about Asia. Don't remember Thailand so much but there was a ladies toiler in Penang that was just a floor with a drain in the corner, nothing raised to either sit or stand on, you literally just pissed on the floor between your legs.

Lennie Nash said...

Dear Forkful,

Sadly, I've never been to Japan, but from what I hear about what they put in their vending machines, I can imagine the lavs might offer up one or two surprises.

Apparently, toilet-themed restaurants have become big business in China following the launch of one last year...all cisterns go and all that.

Lennie Nash said...

Dear Joshua,

They really do come in all shapes and sizes in Asia don't they. That one in Penang sounds dreadful. Almost as bad as the ones in France.

All best,


Winkypedia said...

Cool toilets! Yeah, there is a toilet themed restaurant in HK, where food's served in miniture toilet seats.

What do you think of this multi-mirrored one?

Frank Fforde said...

I'm so looking forward to the book. I wish more blogs were turned into books. Like (shameless I know!). Anyway, I'll definitely be reviewing it.