Located on right side at bottom of hill to Paradise Beach
Open time: Daily 6pm until midnight
Resevation: 0 7635 6888www.takhaiphuket.com
Discover weathered timber pavilions beside the ocean, a live fish pond and kitchen-to-table herb gardens, for authentic Thai seafood planned around the local fisherman’s daily catch
Ta Khai nestles alongside renowned Tri Trang beach. We descend from the road above to set foot in what feels like an enchanting film-set: wooden decking walkways lit by traditional lanterns, that lead past lily ponds and airy, rustic pavilions ready to welcome diners. Beyond, ancient trees, a verdant screen of sea-lettuce, and the lights of Kamala winking across the deep sweep of Patong Bay. We dine, literally, at the ocean’s edge.
The menu features traditional south Thai cuisine – both chefs, Uncle Nun and Aunt Yai, honed their considerable culinary skills for thirty years. Unsurprisingly, their menu – a roll-call of authentic Thai classics – features an extraordinary range of dishes, all prepared from superfine ingredients. Home-grown herbs complement “catch of the day” seafood harvested by local fishermen. Little wonder that the Thai name means “fishing net”.
Warned by our attentive waiter that the portions are uber-generous, we begin with a shared gaeng poo, Nun’s “favourite” yellow curry with a creamy, tangy sauce and huge chunks of succulent crab. Unbeatable. For our main course, we order from the “The Pond”: steamed grouper served with a delectable chili and lime dressing. The flesh is firm and redolent of the sea, a reminder that such authentic fish is becoming more difficult to source. We conclude with a classic mango and coconut milk rice, surmounted by mango ice cream.
Everything is perfect, but the menu is vast and we have only scratched the ‘à la carte’ surface. The attention to detail at Ta Khai is breathtaking: for example, “bite-sized dishes” range from miang kham with no fewer than six herbs, to buea tod with native water grass and prawns. “Wok-fried” fish offers a choice of seven different sauces. Lavish set menus are keenly priced.
Inventive cocktails feature local produce – galangal, basil, papaya – re-emphasising the Thai experience. So too the wine list. It seems only appropriate to sample a Thai wine, a Chateau de Loei Chenin Blanc, so crisp and aromatic, I opt for a second glass.
And a second visit to Ta Khai ? You bet…