Samui Wining & Dining
Going Native

Joining the locals for lunch at Baan Lamom in Hua Thanon.

 

20Each month, our photographer, Khun Grit, and I take a wander around the island and have lunch somewhere a little off the beaten track. We look for Thai restaurants that are outside of the main tourist areas, are frequented by locals and are perhaps not so well known to visitors. It’s not so easy to find such restaurants any more as most visitors will spend a day or two exploring Samui and tend to know their way around fairly well. And for lots of people, Samui is a regular holiday destination and they’ll have their favourite places to go.

 

But there’re hundreds upon hundreds of small roadside restaurants, stalls and makeshift shacks all selling a huge variety of Thai delicacies. And even we haven’t eaten in all of them – so far. Recently, we stopped in at one of Khun Grit’s usual haunts on the south-west of the island. It’s a place I’ve passed often on my way to a little secluded sandy cove on the west coast that I like to chill out at as it’s very quiet. And no, I’m not going to tell you exactly where that beach is. It’s perfect with just me, a few beach dogs and a couple of Thai fishermen who wade out into the sea in the late afternoon. If you find it you’ll know what I mean, just don’t tell too many other people.

 

There is one man who does know every inch of that area though. And he owns the restaurant that we stopped at. Khun Wacharin Limsuwan was born and raised here as were generations of his family before him. And he opened Baan Lamom 16 years ago when there was nothing else around the area. In those days, his customers were just locals and the very occasional visitor. Nowadays, however, there’s quite a few visitor attractions nearby with the Tiger Zoo, Samui Aquarium and Sea Lion Show just along the road. The Butterfly Farm, the Rum Distillery and quite a few temples are also nearby and his restaurant is a handy stopping off point. And it’s not difficult to find. Coming from Chaweng, head south past Lamai and after Hua Thanon village on the ring-road you come to a sign for the 4170. It’s also signposted for the Tiger Zoo and Samui Aquarium. Take this left turn and after 1.7 kilometres you’ll see it on the left just by the turning for the zoo.

 

It’s a large open-sided restaurant with big, solid hand-carved wooden tables and chairs and there’re plenty of parking spaces beside it. His menu hasn’t changed much in all the years and the food reflects southern Thai influences, local produce and Chinese styles as his forefathers were Chinese seafarers who settled on Samui many years ago. And he has some dishes that aren’t on the menu but are the ones that locals and those of Chinese descent come to his restaurant to savour. I’ll come on to those in a moment but first of all I’ll tell you about the menu.

 

Khun Wacharin speaks English well and the menu is written in English. You’ll recognise the names of lots of the dishes and there’re plenty of rice, noodles, stir-fries, curries and Thai soups and spicy salads. There’s even an Indian style curry and a very hot (spicy) Thai curry that’s one of the house specialities. It’s delicious but does pack a punch. There’s also a great selection of fresh fish that’s caught by local fishermen and brought to the restaurant every day. When we were there we tucked into some squid with a chili dip and some prawns and they were brilliant. You can have them cooked in several different ways but I’d recommend barbecued. And there’s a number of different sauces and accompaniments for the seafood, such as garlic and pepper, fresh lemon, sweet and sour, ginger and pineapple and, of course, fresh chilies. You can also have chicken, pork and beef from the barbecue and there’s a couple of pasta dishes. Over the years, there have been many more western families coming to Samui on holiday and that’s why he’s added in spaghetti, burgers and baguettes. Kids can be a little fickle when it comes to food and their young palates don’t always appreciate the subtle flavours of Thai cuisine.

 

You can walk over and look right into the kitchen and you’ll see that it’s very clean. And just before it there’s a separate noodle station. And this is what many locals come for. Their speciality soup is a brimming bowlful of noodles with pork cooked in three different ways, vegetables and local herbs. It’s addictive and I haven’t tasted a noodle soup quite like it. And it’s meal in itself. Even though it’s not on the menu you can ask for it and it’s always made fresh – don’t miss out on this dish!

 

Baan Lamom is open from 7:00 am until late and if you’re out on the road early they do serve a good cup of coffee and a range of excellent fruit shakes as well as beers, soft drinks and the full menu. They serve good sized portions and a meal will be around 100 per person, although I would suggest trying a few dishes and what you can’t finish everything they’ll put in a take-away bag for you. And if you want to know what Samui used to be like, then Khun Wacharin is the man to talk with. He’s open, friendly and knows every secluded corner of the island and a great deal about local Thai food. Baan Lamom is testament to that.

 

Johnny Paterson

 


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