Samui Wining & Dining
Going Native

Joining the locals in Lamai for some of the best noodles in town.

 

Going NativeOur recommended local restaurant this month is called Kuay teaw moo pra too wat in Thai. It means ‘Noodles at the Temple Gate’ and it’s aptly named. There’s no sign in English above the restaurant but it’s just on the corner beside the Lamai temple on the ring-road, about 500 metres after Tesco Lotus coming from Chaweng and opposite the Family Mart. It was recommended to me by a Thai friend who comes from Samui and knows the family well.

 

The owners originally opened the restaurant seven years ago but they closed it down for a period to concentrate on developing their family resort on Thong Tanote Beach on the south-west corner of the island. Now that the reconstruction programme has been completed, they’ve once again opened the restaurant with a brand new look but with all the old favourite dishes that made it so popular in the past. Khun Dao runs the restaurant and does most of the cooking and the recipes are ones that her family has been making for generations.

 

Inside the restaurant there’re ten tables; all new and made of sturdy wood. And wherever you sit you can see the food being made to order. There’s a chalk-board up on the wall with the half a dozen house specialities listed but they are in Thai script. Khun Dao is in the process of having pictures of the dishes printed for visitors but she and her team speak English fairly well and it’s a good idea to ask for some recommendations from them. Basically, they have four different noodle dishes and a couple of rice-based dishes from between 35 and 65 baht. The noodles come with either pork, young spare ribs that have been slow-cooked for two hours, with seafood, or with a combination of them all. And they’re simmered then served in a spicy, sweet and sour soup. On my recent visit I did notice that some Thai customers had the soup in a separate bowl with the noodles, protein, vegetables and spices served dry. They were still mixing them together, just doing it a spoonful at a time. Either way, it’s delicious and the soup has a crisp, clean, slightly lemony flavour which comes through even when you add chilies to the mix.

 

Should you prefer rice rather than noodles, they do one dish of pork with a spicy and sour sauce and another with pork and lemon and both are delicious, or aroi mahk as Thais would say. Khun Dao doesn’t use any MSG in any of the dishes nor are there any peanuts in them which quite a few noodle shops tend to add. If you do have any allergies to specific food items it’s best to ask first before ordering. Just by the door you’ll see a large dim sum steamer and one of their famous creations is their dumplings. They’re large and come in three styles; one is filled with pork and egg and the other two have sweet fillings and they’re just 12 baht each. There’re always plenty steaming away as locals pop in all the time for take-away dumpling orders.

 

You’ll also notice that there’re bowls of dried chilies, fresh chilies, sugar and soy sauce on the tables. Some Thais will add in some of these condiments but the noodle dishes come with all the sweet, spicy and sour flavours already in them and I don’t think the chef’s recipes needs any adjustments at all. Next to the condiments you’ll see a stack of chopsticks and soup spoons so just help yourself to them. If you are a bit awkward with chopsticks you can ask for a fork; there’s no need to feel embarrassed about it. Beside them there’s a plate with six small cups on them. They contain a traditional Thai dessert called khanom tuay which is a sugar-based jelly with a stiff coconut cream. It’s only 25 baht for all six and they’re more than worth tucking into. They don’t need refrigeration and you can also order some to take-away, which I would heartily recommend

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If you’re spending the day exploring around Samui, this place makes an ideal stop-off point and there’s ample space to park-up in the temple opposite. Although there’s some construction work currently going on within the temple (it’s not noisy work), do take the time to have a look around because it houses a secret. And it’s one that few expats or visitors know about or have visited. Over to the left of the temple you’ll see a sign that reads ‘Natural Museum, Lamai Village’. And it has hundreds of historically significant pieces. Founded in 1986 with funds from the Office of the National Cultural Committee (ONCC), Lamai’s museum and ‘Cultural Hall’ is a rustic gem that tells the story of Samui from a bygone age. A quaint wooden building plays host to a roomful of history with some relics dating back centuries. Taking pride of place in the collection is a huge metallic war drum discovered locally in recent years. It would have been used during combat, prior to the start of a battle in a bid to frighten the enemy into submission. And over the years, Samui families have contributed a vast array of artifacts in a bid to preserve the island’s history.

 

‘Noodles at the Temple Gate’ is open from 9:00 am until 7:00 pm every day. It does get busy but the food arrives quickly and the tables turn around fast as most locals are just taking a break from work. And you can have a great lunch for around 100 baht for two people and soak up a bit of culture at the same time. It’s a great little restaurant with a well-deserved reputation and long may it continue.

 

Johnny Paterson 

 


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