Saturday, August 08, 2015

Kabul: Dining Out: Chang Thai

Following our foray to the cinema, Eitan and I decided to try Chang Thai a few days later.

With high hopes, we walked across the Embassy compound to NATO Base Resolute Support where the restaurant is located.

As we entered the dining room, we weren't exactly sure of the procedures.  Staff were scurrying hither and yon, but no one seemed to pay us any mind.  "Should we seat ourselves?" we wondered.

Unwilling to risk it, we corralled a waitress and asked for a table.

She led us to a central table with a good view of our fellow diners.  There was one other group from the Embassy in a corner, and the rest seemed to be military.  As at the cinema, weapons and camouflage were well represented.

Eitan and I selected some appetizers to share - spring rolls and fish cakes - and I ordered tea.  Then we considered the main courses.  There was a surprising dearth of fish and vegetarian dishes, and Eitan ended up with only a handful of choices.  He settled on a vegetarian curry.

Free from dietary restrictions, I had plenty of options at my disposal.  I had too many choices, perhaps, and all the descriptions in the menu started to sound the same.

"What can you recommend?" I asked the waitress.  "I'll looking for something spicy."

"Go for this one," she replied.  "It's a very nice one."

She was pointing to the jungle curry, and the menu description, "a unique hot Thai country style with vegetables no coconut milk," seemed as good as any.

I took her recommendation and requested that it be extra spicy.

My drink arrived in a few minutes, and within five minutes the rest of our order was on the table.  If nothing else, the service was snappy.

The appetizers were hot and tasty, and Eitan's curry looked respectable.

My curry was less impressive.  It didn't look anything like the picture in the menu, but I suppose that's par for the course in most restaurants these days.  The kicker for me was the "extra spice" I had requested.  On top of my pile of soupy vegetables and chicken, there was a sizable portion of ground black pepper sitting there like a perfectly conical, two-inch high volcano.  The mountain of pepper looked as though the chef had asked someone to pass him the pepper back in the kitchen, and the person with the pepper had decided to play a joke and unscrewed the top first.

Black pepper is a spice, of course, but this was not what I had in mind.  Some chili would have been nice.

Despite the pepper situation, the curry wasn't bad.  It also wasn't anything to write home about (although to be fair, I am in fact writing home about it).  It was pretty middle-of-the-road, and I wouldn't be ordering it again any time soon.

When Eitan and I finished eating, there was more confusion as we figured out the procedure for leaving.  Basically, when you are done, you just go to the cashier station near the exit where you get your receipt and pay.

There is a lot of hype about Chang Thai on the Embassy compound, and some people really gush about the place.  My experience left me scratching my head.  "Is the place genuinely good -- or is it Kabul good?" I asked myself.

The answer to that question depends on whom you ask, of course.  In any case, it's a popular choice for get-togethers, and I've been there several more times with different groups of people.  Working my way through the menu, a fair number of dishes still strike me as lackluster.  At the end of the day, though, it's a welcome change from the cafeteria.


The bottom line on Chang Thai:


    Mediocre ü


    Attentive ü

Overall Experience:

    Enjoyable ü

1 comment:

MB said...

If it's like the one at Camp E; it's "Kabul good"! Let me know when you come through the US and we'll go to Thai in Old Town!