Thammaphon

Thammaphon Kampala

There is a Thai food storm brewing in Bukoto. It has mostly been passed around by word of mouth, but after proving itself time and again, it deserves a proper review. Thammaphon Thai, located in a tiny storefront near Bukoto Market has made an incredible mark on the Kampala food scene in a miniscule amount of time.

After opening up late last year to very little fanfare, Thammaphon was a bit of an enigma. A Thai restaurant in Bukoto? It seemed so out of place. Yet as curious locals tried it, the buzz spread. The Thai national flag, flying just out front of the restaurant marks its spot. Owned by a Thai expat who moved to Kampala from Juba two years ago, the restaurant packs lots of flavor.

The interior is decorated with bits and pieces from Thailand and Uganda alike. Little trinkets from Asia (like Pokemon inspired toothpick and napkin holders) are placed on every table and create a tidy and relaxed atmosphere. This, in juxtaposition to the somewhat rustic storefront, adds to the level of charm. It feels like one of those tiny gems that only you are privy to. Even as the patrons and delivery orders continue almost nonstop throughout the day, you still feel like it’s your own discovery. The seating area in the restaurant is limited, but tables are often placed outside during a full house and large parties can be accommodated with a bit of notice.

The menu boasts a wide array of noodles, rice, soups and curries. Fifty-seven meals in all are available on the Thammaphon menu. For the Thai food lover (and there are a lot of us), the basics are all there. Soups like Tom Yam Gai and Tom Kha Gai are readily available in a range of mild to spicy. And be warned: when they say spicy they certainly mean it. The noodle staple Phad Thai comes in a variety of options and meat dishes such as Pannang Beef and a variety of curries are available. A number of vegetarian dishes and salads also dot the menu, and if you’d like a particular dish but don’t want the meat, they’ll happily make it the way you prefer.

Most dishes are inexpensive to say the least. Only one item on the menu, the Thai Style Set, which consists of a few dish samples, breaks 20,000 UGX. The rest generally range from 10,000 – 15,000 UGX. A number of spirits are also available at Thammaphon. Beers include Bell, Club, Nile, Tusker and Guinness. Whiskey, red wine, and vodka are also on the list. And while they do not serve my personal favorite, Uganda Waragi, no doubt a few words with management and you can bring your own from the supermarket just down the road.

Service at the restaurant is quick and efficient and the managers are famous for getting to know their patrons well. The same experience extends to those who order for delivery. It is often quick, to the point, and for those with nut allergies or picky palettes, the peanuts (unless it’s in a sauce) and lemons and limes arrive in separate zip locked bags. This way you can put on as little or as much as you like. Most regulars are called by their first name, and for those that order often, texts are sent out when unexpected closures or specials arise.

It can be a bit disorienting while eating at Thammaphon. The food there is authentic to the core and delicious to say the least. You look down at your plate and you might feel like you’re hanging in a bustling Bangkok neighborhood, eating food from a local vendor. But as soon as you look up? You’re in Kampala, and men with carts full of matoke and matatus are passing by.

However, I’d argue that this is one of the best aspects of the restaurant. You sit back far enough from the street that you don’t catch all the fumes from passing motorists. However, you’re able to soak up the atmosphere of a busy Ugandan market. At night, the street becomes an eclectic mix of bars and nightlife. So if you’re looking for a place to continue your evening, plenty of local places with great prices on drinks are just across the street and around the corner.

Thammaphon Thai brings authentic, delicious Thai food to a neighborhood that least expected it. Its friendly and efficient service has made it a popular place amongst those scattered in the area. If you are looking for a laid back eatery, full of all the Gai Phad King and Tom Yam Hoi you can handle, make sure you stop in for a visit or order for delivery. Thammaphon is open every day except for Tuesdays from around noon until the last visitor leaves.

Hours: Noon to Late
Address: Bukoto-Kisasi Road, Just after the Oryx Petrol Station (formerly Engen) – Look for the Thailand flag!
Phone: 0784 455999/ 0793224133/ 0851182411
Email: longthale@gmail.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Thammaphon-thai-restaurant/186597878157180

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About Lizabeth Paulat

Hi, I’m Lizabeth, a freelance writer whose been stomping around Kampala for the better part of two years. I came here while pursuing a story and decided never to leave. I’m originally from Seattle and have found refuge in both the sun and the culture of Kampalans (plus I still get the rain when I’m feeling homesick).I’m always trying to unearth new and interesting stories about Kampala’s culture and development and am so exited to have an amazing platform to explore the city with. I hope to bring a bit of know-how and a bit of fun to Living in Kampala. Feel free to contact me any time at lizabeth@livinginkampala.com.