Saturday, 2 March 2013

Prawn shock tale

We knew we'd be tired so had planned to eat at the hotel, but by the time we arrived, the restaurant was already closed. So instead we wandered out into the heat (even at 9pm it's hot and humid) in search of food. We were intercepted by a Thai man who claimed to be an English teacher, and he helpfully explained that it was election-eve and a lot of restaurants would be shut. He recommended we go to a fish place he knew and helped us secure the services of a nearby Tuk-Tuk, which looked like the product of a relationship between a Lambretta and a Bollywood milk float. Within seconds we are hurtling through the streets of Bangkok glued to the pink vinyl seats whilst mopeds and taxis cut in front, undertake, overtake and generally behave in ways that would earn an immediate twelve points on your licence where I'm from.
We arrive at our restaurant and are pleased to find that there are pictures of the dishes in the laminated menu (always a sign of quality). I order a beef curry (300 baht, about £7.50) and Jus plumps for the Shanghai style prawns (no price on menu, but how much can it be eh?) and is asked how many prawns she wants. The waiter suggests five, this sounds fine and we wait for our food to arrive, whilst trying not to stare at the waitresses skirts (very, very short and with a slit up the side to add that extra touch of class).
When we've eaten and the bill has arrived we get a bit of a shock. 300 baht for my curry, 100 baht for a beer, OK, fine, and what the... 1600 baht for the Shanghai prawns!!??!!  That's nearly 40 quid! For some tiger prawns and a bit of rice and some sauce! I'd have expected a whole tiger for that! In a "restaurant" with plastic tables and chairs and pictures on the menu?
We haven't got enough money to pay even if we wanted to. What follows is a period of tense negotiations between ourselves and the manager who tells us that the prawns are sold by weight and that we should have known how much it would be, while we suggest that he might have been taking the "mickey" (my Mum's reading this) when encouraging my wife to order a meal costing over 5 times the price of mine. We end up making an offer somewhat lower than his original demand (leaving us with enough money to get "home" but only just), and we leave before the boys from the kitchen appear with their meat cleavers!
So, first tip from our Far East adventure - if you're in a restaurant in Bangkok, even if it makes the basement of The Kashmir in Bradford look like Claridges, ask how much the prawn dish will cost before ordering and eating it.
Sorry, but it left me feeling a little crabby!

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