Bangkok's Moo Kata Restaurants

Moo Kata cooking vessel over a clay pot filled with hot charcoals.
Moo Kata cooking vessel over a clay pot filled with hot charcoals. | Source

A Moo Kata restaurant or sometimes referred to as Mookatat or Mookrata is an all you can eat buffet dinner affair popular with local Thais as well as embedded expats and curious tourists. And one of the reasons why Moo Kata is so popular in Thailand is because it is one of the cheapest buffet dinners in Bangkok. These popular restaurants in Bangkok are worth searching out for a unique Thai eating experience.

Moo Kata translated means 'skillet pork'. But of course you have much more choices to choose from while dining. It's a hybrid of grilling and Asian hot pot cooking all in one vessel.

The cost of eating in such restaurants depends on the location. Within Bangkok the cost of eating in a Moo Kata restaurants starts around 100 baht. That's not bad at all for a smorgasbord of meats (pork, beef, chicken, fish). You can also choose from a wide variety of vegetables, noodles, sushi, a few prepared foods such as egg rolls and fried rice, fruits, ice cream and Thai sweets and desserts. A Thai meal is never complete without condiments so there are a small variety of spicy, garlicky and sweet dipping sauces to round out the meal.

For an additional 100 baht extra you'll get to add seafood like squid, tiger prawns, snow crab legs and clams to your dinner. If you splurge on the seafood you will get an extra cooking vessel which consists of a metal grate placed over a clay pot filled with hot charcoal.

The selections are in a section of the restaurant which sort of resembles a butcher's shop. Rows of raw meats are in tubs surrounded by ice cubes. The sight might be off putting for first timers. Especially when they don't like organ meats such as liver and tripe and unknowingly select it. There are plenty of marinated beef, chicken and pork to choose from.

Here's what I recommend you should do to avoid any nasty surprises and cut down on waste. If you're not certain what something is just take a small piece and grill it on the vessel. Once it's thoroughly cooked, take a nibble and see if you like it before you start piling it on your plate.

Depending on the size of your party you get one Moo Kata vessel which resembles a funny steel hat with a trough filled with water or broth running around. The vessel sits on top of blazing hot coals contained in a sturdy clay pot. A big piece of pork fat is provided as flavoring and to lube up the top portion of the vessel so that the meats won't stick too badly during grilling.

The water around the vessel is for cooking veggies and noodles. It's okay to poach meats in it too. As the meal goes on you can drink the broth which has accumulated all the flavors on the Moo Kata.

Drinks such as Pepsi or Coca-Cola run about 30 baht for a small bottle. Local beer can be purchased for around 130 baht for a liter. But if you're eating out on a budget, bottled water and ice cubes are still very cheap in Thailand.

109 baht for Moo Kata at Family BBQ Restaurant in Huay Kwang
109 baht for Moo Kata at Family BBQ Restaurant in Huay Kwang | Source
Family BBQ Restaurant in Huay Kwang opens around 7pm and closes around 12am
Family BBQ Restaurant in Huay Kwang opens around 7pm and closes around 12am | Source
Find this neon sign and you're at Family BBQ Restaurant
Find this neon sign and you're at Family BBQ Restaurant | Source
There are always plenty of seats at Moo Kata restaurants but it's always best to get there early to get a good spot
There are always plenty of seats at Moo Kata restaurants but it's always best to get there early to get a good spot | Source

Where To Find Moo Kata Restaurants

There used to be many Moo Kata restaurants scattered all over Bangkok. It's sad to say the best ones have closed down or many of them have cut down on the selections, especially in their dessert offerings. For example I remember a lot of Moo Kata restaurants used to offer mango with sticky rice but have since discontinued it.

Luckily there are a few Moo Kata restaurants located in parts of Bangkok that are easy to find and enjoy. Keep in mind staff at these restaurants have limited English skills. So try to speak slowly and they will eventually figure out what you need.

** This restaurant has since closed. Will it open back up under new ownership? Maybe... I'll be sure to keep you all posted - I recommend a popular chain of restaurants called Family Restaurant BBQ and they have a location in the Huay Kwang district close to central Bangkok. You can get there by taking the MRT subway to Huay Kwang station. Take the escalators up from exit #1 and walk north, past a Honda car dealership and in a minute you should see the restaurant to your right. If you're taking the MRT at Sukhumvit station it will only take about 10 minutes to reach Huay Kwang station.**

Another popular location and restaurant is 36 Moo Kata Thong located on Sukhumvit Road Soi 50. They charge the same price at 109 baht for the main buffet and 100 baht extra for the seafood add on. The closest train station to 36 Moo Kata Thong is On Nut BTS station. Once you're off the train head for exit #2 which is the closest to Soi 50. This restaurant opens from 4pm - 12 midnight.

Usually on weekends both restaurants have live bands playing Thai music and some are able to belt out popular Western music as well. Eating at Moo Kata restaurants is a happy event for Thais who usually eat in large groups and families out for a good time. It's a great atmosphere and anyone visiting Bangkok should search one out and give it a go.

There are many more located on the outskirts of the city and deep inside sections of Bangkok but requires a bit of roughing it. However, if you are a culinary adventurer you can head to the outskirts of Bangkok and find local Moo Kata restaurants charging 70 baht. The 2 mentioned above are currently the most popular Moo Kata styled restaurants and very simple to find and for 109 baht it's definitely worth it.

Tips For Dining Moo Kata Style

Here are a few tips for eating at a Moo Kata restaurant in Bangkok.

If you're planning on trying out a Moo Kata restaurant from April through late October make sure you bring a small hand towel. Try and find a table where you're not surrounded by other tables with a roof over your head. April - October is the hot and rainy season and trust me if you're surrounded by blazing hot cooking vessels you're going to sweat buckets so that's where the hand towel comes in handy.

There are ceiling fans in the covered sections but they won't help that much when it's hot and humid. And rain in Thailand is fast with heavy downpours so make sure you're sitting in the covered section of the restaurant.

Bring extra sturdy tissues with you since restaurants can be stingy with their supply to customers. Bring wet naps or hand sanitizers too. Though these restaurants do have bathrooms it is rare to have soap and hot running water inside.

Eating at Moo Kata restaurants requires you to grill your own meats. The only utensils provided by the restaurants are chop sticks and some do have forks. I suggest you designate a few utensils to handle raw meats to avoid cross contamination. Some people suggest dipping your eating utensils in the part of the vessel with the boiling water for a few seconds. I don't suggest that because you have to leave it in the hot water for awhile to get rid of any raw meat juice. Just use separate utensils for extra precautions.

The raw meats are in tubs surrounded by ice cubes. And that's it. There is no sneeze guard or extra air conditioning since the entire restaurant is outdoors. So make sure you cook your meats well done. Stomach illness is a surefire way to ruin your holiday in Bangkok.

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Comments 15 comments

Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 5 years ago from South East Asia

I love it. We cook at home in this way too. More variety when in a restaurant though. I highly recommend. Thanks for sharing.


Edwin Clark profile image

Edwin Clark 5 years ago from Thailand by way of New York Author

Hi Peter, it certainly is a fun way to eat with friends, thanks for commenting.


Prisana profile image

Prisana 5 years ago from Thailand and Colorado

I've eaten at these restaurants before but never knew they were called Moo Kata. Thanks for all the great info. I will use it in my Moo Kata future.


Edwin Clark profile image

Edwin Clark 5 years ago from Thailand by way of New York Author

You are welcome Prisana!


johncimble profile image

johncimble 4 years ago from Bangkok

great hub! i've been to ate Moo Kata at Family BBQ Restaurant in Huay Kwang it's not far from my area as i'm living in Sutthisan ^^


Edwin Clark profile image

Edwin Clark 4 years ago from Thailand by way of New York Author

Hello johncimbie, yes, many moo kata restaurants near sutthisan. I particularly like the one in Huay Kwang right by the Honda dealer!


Akion 4 years ago

Hey.... I read your review how good it was and wanted to tried it but it was no longer there and I did asked the local and none of them know where it had shifted to. So sad.. Been wanting to try a long time ago.


Belle 4 years ago

Hey Akion,

Both mookata that Edwin mention is already shifted?


Edwin Clark profile image

Edwin Clark 4 years ago from Thailand by way of New York Author

Hi Akion,

Yeah, I am surprised too that the Mookata restaurant in Huay Kwang is out of business too. A lot have been closing lately because they can't keep up with the increasing rent. It's a real shame.

There are a lot of many other Mookata restaurants but they're not reachable by MRT or BTS trains. There's a place that I go to on Phahon Yothin road near Mayo Hospital. I've updated the info back up top.


Shine li 4 years ago

Family BBQ is no longer in huay khwang. We spent a good 1 hour walking through the whole area asking around and no one knew what it was. We met a really nice young guy who called his friends to check it out for us and only to know that it has closed since few months ago.


Jon 3 years ago

I love eating Mookata on my trips in SEA. So, much I bought the skillet and took one home. I have used different broths in my adventures of cooking at home. Can you tell me what the broth is flavored with in the motherland? Thanks for your artice! Fun read :)


Iammattdoran profile image

Iammattdoran 3 years ago from Manchester, UK

I wish I'd seen this hub before I went to Bangkok last year. I recently published a lens on my week in Bangkok but it's on Squidoo. I generally ate on the street and had Mango Sticky Rice and Pad Thai etc. for about 3o Baht. Great hub Edwin


Amy Rowe profile image

Amy Rowe 3 years ago

Looks delish!


kabney profile image

kabney 3 years ago from Tulsa

I'm adding Bangkok to my list of food centered travel destinations, great article!


Gary 2 years ago

Tried one of the Family Restaurant BBQ places last night, price seemed ok at THB 139 for non-seafood buffet and the seafood was THB 239. Only one had the seafood and he was happy with the price also. I have been to many Thai style BBQ buffets over the 8 years I have lived here and this was a first at one of the "Family" chain, it was well lit, staff welcoming and polite and compared to others I have been to this place was more spacious (diners not sitting on top of each other) and cleaner. We were seated under a nice fan and at a very clean table and were given a plate, chopsticks and a cold face wipe. All very nice.

There was a reasonable selection of food for bbq, pre-cooked dishes, make your own Som Tum, sushi and some deserts. The bbq meat unfortunately were still frozen making it difficult to part a reasonable amount to take back to the table, meats as well as pre-cooked food had flies crawling all over - put me off very quickly. My Thai friends didn't mind and dug right in. Beer and soft drinks were not so cheap as I have had at other bbq buffet venues. We ordered a jug of beer which was THB 179, beer came with a bucket of ice which we did not order.

My friends enjoyed their food, I ate a little bit and what I had was fine. It all look delicious, I just couldn't get past the flies dining on my food before me. The shock came when we got the bill. We were charged for 3 seafood buffets, we explained we had only one but this fell on deaf ears. We were told that if one has seafood buffet at the table are charged ... needless to say when we placed our order we were given little stickers on our shirts the seafood buffet diner had a different colour than the non-seafood buffet. My Thai friends argued this in Thai but the waiter was having nothing to do with changing the bill to what should have been the correct price. On the bill also was THB 59 for a bucket of ice that we did not order (nowhere in Thailand have I been charged that much for a bucket of ice - outrageous), THB 45 for three cold face towels (again not ordered and two were never used and collected by the waiter to put back in stock of course), there was also a THB 95 charge for top up on coals to the bbq ... we never ordered this and did not see the waiter top up... apparently this happened when we were all up at the buffet selecting (not a chance always had one person at the table watching the bags and other belongings). To add insult to injury there was a 10% service charge and 7% VAT charge on top. Again in all bbq buffets I have been to before I have never been charged service or vat before. This particularly annoyed my Thai friends as they had never encountered this in any Thai style out door dining. They were adamant that it was only put on there because I was a westerner and they were looking to make extra from me.

What else you need to know about these "Family" group restaurants is that if you don't finish your food when you as for the bill they will weigh the left overs and charge you buy weight (each category of food has a THB value). There are many hidden cost at these places and my suggesting based on this experience and the other bbq buffets I have eaten at is stay away from Family many much better and cheaper places to eat. I will look up the names and re-post here for you.

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