Samui Wining & Dining
Going Native

Joining the locals for lunch at Maimuy Restaurant in Plai Laem.

Going NativeChecking out local Thai restaurants around the island is a regular jaunt for our staff photographer, Khun Grit, and me. And as neither of us is originally from Samui we tend to just wander or go on the recommendations of locals. One of our colleagues who is from Samui told us about a restaurant that’s a favourite of hers in Plai Laem, up in the north-east corner of the island. And when locals speak highly about a Thai restaurant, it’s definitely worth taking note.


Maimuy (pronounced my-mu-ee) Restaurant has been open for over four years and is run by Khun Parichart and her family. Her sisters, Khun Au and Khun Duan, also work there and she and her husband have both been in the hospitality industry their whole careers. During the day, Khun Parichart works for the Centara Group of Hotels on Samui in its Human Resources department. And her husband is a chef who has worked in top-class restaurants and resorts both on the island and in Phuket (where he is currently). He was the one who devised the menu and trained Chef Duan in modern culinary techniques and classical Thai recipes. You can tell just by looking in the kitchen that it’s professionally organised, clean and well equipped to handle the 120-plus Thai dishes on the menu.


It’s open on all sides though covered by a roof and there’s half a dozen tables for four and five thatched bamboo salas. These are designed to step up into and sit crossed-legged on cushions with a low table in the middle. And if there’re just two of you then you can comfortably sprawl out lengthways on the cushions and happily nibble away at finger food. The restaurant sits just back from the road but it’s surrounded by trees and plants and the tree that grows around the sign outside is a ‘maimuy’ (which the restaurant is named after). Thais often eat the green leaves from the plant with very spicy curries as it has cooling properties and adds a flavour dimension to the food.


Their menu is in English and on the front pages there’re are plenty of soft drinks, fresh fruit juices and shakes for 30 baht and beers that start at just 40 baht for a Chang and 50 baht for a Singha. For even better value, you can order the larger bottles, which are 70 and 90 baht respectively. Browsing through the menu you’ll find plenty of rice, noodle and curry dishes with the choice of pork, chicken, squid, prawns, mixed seafood and vegetables, each for around 40-80 baht. Fried rice with chicken or a bowl of noodle soup with seafood is only 40 baht. And a big serving of either tom yum goong (spicy prawn soup) or tom kha gai (a mild chicken and coconut soup) is 80 baht and each is wholly filling on its own. And they also have a wonderfully aromatic lime soup with climbing fish available at 100 baht and 150 baht for the medium and large portions.


No doubt many of the dishes will be familiar to Thai-food fans but they also have quite a number of local recipes, not often seen dishes and house specialities. On the first couple of pages you’ll see offerings like soft shell crab with garlic and pepper, stir-fried frog with garlic, some delicious pork ribs, swimmer crab with curry, spicy curried white snapper and one of my favourites, serpent head fish (sometimes called snake head fish) with a local herb salad. There’re also lots of spicy Thai salads and fragrant non-spicy ones as well.


Whilst Khun Grit and I were there, we ordered three plates and couldn’t get close to finishing them. The pad Thai with prawns (50 baht) was excellent. It had all the right textures and the nuts, sugar, dried chilies and limes were on the side so that you can adjust the flavours if you wish. Khun Grit and I tend to order the ubiquitous pad Thai most places we go as if this simple dish is made well and stands out then you can be sure that everything else will too. Maimuy Restaurant’s red curry with chicken (60 baht) is creamy, just a little spicy and comes as a huge plateful. And the fried chicken with cashew nuts (80 baht) has a sweet and sour tang with no unnecessary spices added. All of the food is beautifully presented on large plates and the service is quick enough and comes with a smile.


If you’re out and about exploring the island, this corner is home to two of the most famous temples on Samui. Just a few hundred metres down from the restaurant is Wat Plai Laem. Its temple is famous for the hundreds of big fish that live in the lake and you can buy food for the fish at the temple for a small donation of 10 baht per pack. In addition, it’s also one of the most colourful temples on Samui and features an 18-arm Buddha statue set in the middle of the lake. And just along the road is Samui’s most famous landmark – Big Buddha (Wat Phra Yai).


After taking in the temples and walking the beaches, head for Maimuy Restaurant, its easy enough to find. From the entrance of the Big Buddha complex, turn left and its 1.2 kilometres further on heading towards Choeng Mon on the right-hand side of the road. In terms of the quality of the food, the service, value-for-money and the strength of the local recommendations Maimuy really is hard to beat. It’s open from midday until midnight and a perfect example of an authentic local Thai restaurant offering the very best of this nation’s excellent cuisine.


Johnny Paterson

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