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Forget Intimate Dining at Royal Dragon


BANGKOK — If you need to go to the bathroom, you may have trouble finding your table again at the Royal Dragon.

The restaurant is the size of eight football fields, and waiters roller-skate to get the food to you from the distant kitchen.

The 8.4-acre seafood restaurant on the outskirts of Bangkok is the world's biggest restaurant, according to the Guinness Book of Records. Before 1993, that distinction belonged to another Bangkok eatery, the 6.8-acre Thai Palace.

The Royal Dragon has 1,200 employees, including 541 waiters and waitresses and 322 chefs.

The menu offers more than 1,000 dishes, including Western, Thai, Japanese and Chinese food. Almost 2,200 pounds of seafood are served daily.

There are 5,000 seats. The kitchen has 24,500 plates and 21,500 bowls. At peak production, 3,000 dishes can be cooked in an hour.

"About 2,000 customers come in every day. But on the weekend, all the seats will be taken," said manager Somchai T. Amornrat.

Somchai worked at the Thai Palace before deciding to strike out on his own on an even bigger scale.

"You are only born once, so you want to go for the record," he said.

Somchai, an ethnic Chinese who also is an architect, said he patterned the Royal Dragon after the Imperial Palace in Beijing, which he had seen in architecture books.

Set inside a rectangle of trees, the restaurant has several dozen traditional Chinese-style buildings with sloping roofs of orange-red tile. A pool stocked with fish and swans is at the center. Concrete bridges across the pool connect the buildings. They include a bridge with nine turns; ethnic Chinese believe crossing it brings good luck.

New waiters undergo a monthlong training to learn to carry food on roller-skates.

"Skating makes my work fun," said waiter Som Promsrida-ngam, 16. "At first, I was nervous and afraid the food would fall down, but it hasn't happened yet."

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