Bangkok’s Alpaca Restaurant Gave Me the Creeps
People don't go to Alpaca View Farm & Cuisine for the food, but they do go there for the insane menagerie of live (albeit self-loathing) animals, karaoke, and holiday decorations.
All photos by the author
When you find out that there's an alpaca restaurant in town, you go. It doesn't matter if you're an "alpaca person"—if such a thing exists.
After hearing about Bangkok's Alpaca View Farm & Cuisine, I was determined to make the pilgrimage to the alpaca mecca. Bangkok is a great place to be if you have a hankering to break bread around domesticated animals. The city is home to numerous cat cafes, a rabbit cafe, and a husky cafe in addition to Alpaca View. But, a good hour from the city center, Alpaca View takes some determination to reach. After riding the BTS (Bangkok's sky train) to the end of the Mo Chit line, my friend and I had to take a taxi another fifteen minutes to an area called Lat Phrao. Thankfully, the hassle is totally worth it for the smorgasboard of novelty when you arrive at the bizarre, fair-like restaurant. No one, it seems, is there for the food.
Upon arrival, guests aren't immediately greeted with alpaca action. You first encounter a lot of other freakiness that leaves you with many questions. Why is there a giant Eiffel Tower replica? Why is that life-sized Bugs Bunny statue holding a Scream mask?
The place has been open since 2012, a confusing detail considering the place is teeming with signs that say "Alpaca Farm 2014" (and it's now 2015). The restaurant seems to have it all: karaoke, a sushi bar, huge water wheels, British phone booths, a snowman, knock-off Teletubby statues, a stage with an acoustic guitar act, jack-o'-lanterns, and a tiki bar. My friend thought the place was reminiscent of Disneyland, but I wondered, Were they going for Christmas or Halloween?
At Alpaca View, you can either sit outside in view of giant projector screens playing soccer games and Muay Thai matches or inside in an American chain-restaurant setting. We found a table at which to leave our belongings, then followed signs to see the starring creatures in all of their gangly glory. I passed by groups of friends sharing towers of beer, couples on dates, and a few families before reaching the alpaca pen.
My first impression was not great.
The alpacas—which were grimy and had off-putting black eyes—were not frolicking around the enclosure, but lethargically sprawled around their grassy area. These alpacas looked like they had seen some shit. They didn't look at you, they looked through you.
For 40 Thai baht, just over $1 US, you could feed the alpacas some kibbles. In true fair fashion, there were more animals around than the shabby alpacas. There were enclosures of donkeys, horses, rabbits, and ducks. One lone or escaped duck—sans ankle tag—roamed freely around the farm and stared me down outside of the bathroom.
I returned to the table a little bummed and opened the plastic menu. The menu—notably and thankfully absent of alpaca meat—offered a standard lineup of dishes you can get at any casual restaurant in Bangkok. We went with a pitcher of Thai beer, a whole steamed fish in lemon sauce, a Thai omelette, and some fried morning glory (the greens, not the flower).
I had extremely low expectations for the food considering the main draw of the restaurant was the presence of alpacas. Surprisingly, it wasn't terrible—just your standard degree of underwhelming. The omelette was mediocre and served lukewarm, but the garlicky morning glory had a great bite to it without being too spicy for a farang to handle. The whole fish—riddled with more bones than I usually experience—got better after the waiter relit the gas flame beneath the fish-shaped serving dish.
We stared at the menagerie of oddities around us as we ate. Every so often, we'd point out a new strange finding like a massive stuffed Chuck E. Cheese-esque head. Sometimes the shrieking bleat of a donkey would interrupt covers of 90s ballads. We paid our bill and left feeling fulfilled and bewildered, passing a cat cafe before getting into a cab back home.
Alpaca View Farm & Cuisine is not exactly a lovely animal farm, and it's certainly not about the cuisine. But the place will likely always be packed with curious Instagrammers nonetheless, looking for a taste of the weird and wild.