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Bangkok's Moo Kata Restaurants
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.
**Update - One Moo Kata Restaurant You May Want to Visit **
- Possibly the Last 888 Family Mookata Restaurant near Central Bangkok
Here is a very recent blog post on a Mookata restaurant in Bangkok. It's not as easy to get to as the one that used to be in Huay Kwang.
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.
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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.