Foodcourts you WANT to eat in

The East Asian mall experience is totally amazing.  On the one hand, you see what the influx of the materialistic and hedonistic shopping culture of the west has done in bringing the shopping mall over here – it’s jarring in its place against the rest of the landscape.  On the other hand, you see shopping malls done RIGHT.  In Bangkok, there is a row of shopping malls in Ratchaprasong (along Sukhumvit Rd.) all connected via elevated walkways and internal bridges – there’s no reason to have to leave one to go to the other – Mahboonkrong (‘MBK’), the Siams (Discover, Center, and Paragon) and Central World are all right there.  They are five to eight stories each – with stores of every variety. 

Walking in a hall on the 3rd floor of MBK

Siam Paragon (which has the aquarium Brad went diving in as its feature in the basement) is arguably the nicest.  Hermes, Versace, and others all have their stores here.  Siam Discovery and Siam Center are a little more ‘regular’ with all of the teen clothing stores you can shake a stick at, as well as the other home decor and usual suspects. 

MBK, however, is a little bit of a different beast.  It’s enormous – each of the 8 floors has a huge selection (over 2000 stores in total!).  Floors have themes – fashion on 1/2/3, cell phones and grocery store on 4, etc.  It’s hundreds of kiosks on each floor – selling everything that you can imagine.  Fast food and sit down restraurants are strewn all about. 

The pinnacle, however, that we just stumbled into, is the “Fifth Food Avenue” international food court on the fifth floor.  It works like this: First, you enter the food court area through a turnstyle with an attendent who gives you a special debit card.  This is how you pay for your food.  As you walk around to each of the cooking/ordering areas, the process is that you tell the person what you’d like, they swipe your card and debit the amount it costs, and then they bring it to you when it’s ready.  When you’re done, you exit through the cashier who takes back your card.  It’s run through the register, which totals everything you swiped to the card and then you pay for it – all at once.  Quick and easy.  This isn’t the cool part, though – we learned that the debit system is actually fairly common and used it at at least two other food courts.

Brad in front of the Thai food stall

The cool part was the selection of the food!  Island-like kiosks featured different cuisines from around the world (Specific areas of Thailand and China, sushi and curries from Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, India, Arabia, Greece, Italy, American (burgers), etc.).  Premade “demo” plates served as examples of the menu items available at each stall.  Most places seemed to have 20-40 items, so across the 20 or so vendors, you can imagine the selection.

Kavitha shot a walkthrough video to give you a feel for it.

As a parting food porn photo – here’s the soup that Kavitha and Brad both got as a mid-afternoon snack – mouthwatering, right?

Tom Young Goon (Spicy Shrimp Soup)

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