Every nationality has its outposts in Bangkok. Some are worth forgetting. Others, by contrast, if you can remember then you weren’t doing it right.
Tawandeng Microbrewery on Rama 3 is one such place, by appearance straight out of Bavaria. A series of gleaming metallic pipes at Tawandeng signal to a serious beer drinker that the brew here is someone’s passion as opposed to the usual swill that passes through most revelers nightly.
As the refreshing beer (which comes in three varieties: dark, lager or weizen ) flows, aided by machine-like attendants, the place fills and fills, even on a week night. The cabaret begins and multiple cultures collide in something reminiscent of a Thai Moulin Rouge.
Thailand’s relationship with the culture of the “fatherland” is at times misguided. The proliferation of Nazi memorabilia in Thailand does not go down too well with Germans, especially when part of a school sports day, as occurred in Chiang Mai recently.
Here however the pork knuckles come with chili sauce, and the cultural synchronicity buzzes into life as punters line dance between the tables. It’s Oktoberfest with smaller women. The revelry is assisted by an army of attendants who not only are expert at spotting a half empty glass but at later junctures of the night lead and usher punters up to partake in “spontaneous” conga sessions.
Don’t go expecting an abundance of German or European food: it’s scant on the menu. The pork knuckle is great, but doesn’t taste authentically European. It is served with a bizarre combo of token tiny servings of sauerkraut and mashed potato and chili sauce usually served with khao ka moo. The sausages are nothing to write home about, more drinking snack than main dish. The Thai food however is every bit as good as most Thai restaurants.
For many, the search for a night out in Bangkok involves to avoiding the obvious attempts at emulating the foreign; the pale mimics of Irish bars, weighed down with lost European men in ill fitting shorts and roving eyes. But in Tawandeng, the majority Thai clientele know that something clicks, even for the hardened cabaret sceptic. Siam fuses with the Rhine in a triumphant blur.