Friday, May 7, 2010

Soul Food

What’s most unique about the Bangkok Chef is that it’s built into a garage that used to be an obnoxious karaoke bar. I say obnoxious because for two years I lived in an apartment directly across the street from it, suffering through hours of nightly drunken serenading and middle of the night brawling, accompanied by sirens routinely howling into my interrupted dreams.

I eventually resorted to praying on my balcony before bedtime that the patrons would get tired earlier and go home, or that they’d all spread a bad case of laryngitis amongst each other. The praying became ritual, to the extent that I strategized with God for ways to transform the a-melodious hellhole into something more pleasant. Maybe the owners would convert to literary folk and transform the garage into a shabby-chic bookstore. Maybe they’d strike it big in Vegas and relocate to a more affluent, off-island location. More specifically, I simply prayed it would become a “fruitful” place.

After two horrific years of Englebert Humperdink and Mariah Carey wannabe’s, I caved in and moved out of the apartment, feeling somewhat defeated by the unanswered prayers. But less than a month after U-hauling it out of there, I drove into the shopping center’s parking lot and did a double take at what had been the infamous karaoke bar. Freshly painted green, the new sign in front of it read, OPEN MARKET. For the first time, the metal garage door was rolled wide open, so I peeked in and discovered the most direct answer to any prayer I’d ever offered.

(there's the apartment on the left of the sign)

Mangos, papayas, lychee, and bananas occupied every corner of the shop. An angelic chorus filled my head as I beheld a football-sized pineapple. The OPEN MARKET generated so much business that within a few months, not only were they selling fruit, but they also began to offer a simple array of home-cooked Thai food (my favorite eating genre), at a great price. The business instantly flourished. People lined up into the parking lot all day and night to buy sizzling hot crispy noodles, panang curries, and other traditional Thai specialties. I evangelized all my friends and co-workers to pay homage to the Bangkok Chef and led many hungry souls into this divine establishment.

The Bangkok Chef has become so fruitful that they have recently opened a second restaurant in the affluent Manoa Valley. I go there religiously and always leave with a satisfied smile and stomach full of praise.

(the Manoa Valley location)

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