By COLlive reporter
Chabad of Thailand has opened two new Kosher restaurants this week, drumming up the food offerings for the many Jewish travelers and Israeli backpackers visiting the Far East.
J Café and Kosher Shoppe, an Israeli style café in the Mille Malle Mall on Sukhumvit Soi 20, has opened in Bangkok, and offers a selection of pastries, baked goods and sandwiches. It is more than just an eatery, says Rabbi Yosef Chaim Kantor, Head Shliach of Chabad of Thailand.
“It’s a ‘one-stop-shop’ for Yiddishkeit and Jewish accessories,” he said. “It may be a yartzeit candle one is looking for. Chanuka candles. A half kilo of rugelach. Challa bread on Friday. Hamantaschen on Purim. Israeli soup croutons. Tahini or Humus or Matzah and kosher wine for Pesach.”
This eatery joined a meat restaurant which Chabad of Thailand has established in Bangkok named “Hamisada.” Serving dishes at almost cost price, it has attracted a wide clientele over the years.
The second new restaurant that opened recently is a “Pizzeria” near the Chabad Center of Phuket. Run by Shluchim Rabbi Mendy and Miriam Segal, this restaurant boasts the first Kosher pizza in Phuket.
Opening two new restaurants this week comes after years of “dreaming and planning,” said Rabbi Kantor, who is also the Chief Rabbi of Thailand.
“Two and a half decades ago, just after we opened the backpacker Chabad House in Kaosarn Rd. it was clear that we needed a kosher food solution. Young people were visiting the Chabad House, becoming inspired to connect more to Judaism but left unable to feed their bodies in a kosher way. It was difficult to encourage travelers to commit to eating kosher when there was virtually nothing available for them to eat.”
“Opening a restaurant at the Chabad House twenty-five years ago was a mitzvah. It was founded as an outgrowth and result of the Jewish outreach mandate of Chabad,” Kantor said.
“Rather than being a revenue source, it was another significant expenditure. It didn’t seem to have a future as a commercial enterprise but that didn’t matter. It was nurturing Jewish souls and guaranteeing Jewish continuity. These are critical values that you cannot put a price tag on.”