Samui Wining & Dining
Going Native

Joining the locals for lunch ad Git Pawshana restuarant in Nathon.

 

18 Every month our photographer, Khun Grit, and I take a wander around the island. Our purpose is to try out a typical Thai restaurant that's popular with locals but isn't usually known to visitors to the island. And this month we stopped off at one of his favourite haunts in Nathon, the main town on the west side of the island.

    It can lay a claim to being one of, if not, the oldest continuously operating restaurants on the island. Opened more than 30 years ago by Khun Meow, it's also one of the very few restaurants on the island that's open 24 hours a day, every day. There's no name in English for it on any signs, so the closest transliteration I can give you is Git Pawshana. And every Thai person I've spoken to knows that name and where the restaurant is located. ‘Git’ is the nickname of the owner's husband (it's nothing to do with the English word!) and the restaurant name roughly means ‘the kind of food Git likes to eat’.

      If you're driving around the island and coming from Lamai towards Nathon (clockwise on the ring-road) you'll get to the one-way system which takes you on to the ocean-side road in Nathon. Drive along the seafront for a couple of hundred metres and stop at the first 7-Eleven store you see on the right. There's a street that goes up the side of the shop, and the restaurant is on the right about 50 metres ahead. It's on the corner where the street joins the (opposite direction) one-way system. When you're walking up the side street you'll pass over what is known locally as the ‘middle road’, it's signposted as Angthong Road. Every Saturday from late afternoon they have a 'walking street' here with hundreds of small stalls selling local foods, handicrafts, clothes and souvenirs.

 

But there's a reason this restaurant has
lasted so long and is perennially
popular - the food is outstanding.

 

      

 No matter what time of day you go there are always people eating in the restaurant. It can seat around 80 diners, and at lunchtime and early evening you may have to wait for a seat. No matter, the main road is lined with shops so you could take a stroll. And if you venture down the one-way system, walking against the traffic, you'll come upon Soi 4 on the right-hand side. Take a walk up this road a few hundred metres and there's a very old Chinese temple at the top that's worth a look and some photographs.

       Once you do sit down, they have menus in English and there are around 100 dishes to choose from. The kitchen is open-plan and you'll see half-a-dozen cooks working away. They move fast and even when it's busy you won't have to wait long for your food. Many of the recipes are old family favourites and are distinctly Samuian in style. And even dishes that are familiar in name to you will be presented, and taste, a little different from the typical tourist versions that you find around Chaweng and Lamai. But there's a reason this restaurant has lasted so long and is perennially popular - the food is outstanding.

       In terms of pricing it's also fantastic value for money. Fried rice with chicken or pork will set you back just 45 baht. If you prefer it with mixed seafood or prawns it's 60 baht. Noodle dishes, and there are pages of them, are 45-60 baht. And curries, along with dishes such as fried beef with oyster sauce or pork with basil and chilli, are around 90 baht. Seafood, as you would expect, plays a prominent role on the menu and you should try the fried sea bass with black pepper (120 baht) or crab with curry (150-200 baht). Some fish dishes are priced by weight but aren't at all expensive. And beers are well priced at 40 baht for a Chang, 50 baht for a Singha and 60 baht for a Heineken. About half the price you'd pay in the bars in town.

       After perusing the menu for a while we decided to let Khun Meow choose for us, and we asked for half-a-dozen dishes that she enjoyed. None of them were at all spicy but were packed full of flavours, and this was one of the best meals we'd ever had. You know it's brilliant when you still pick away at the food even though you're full enough to burst. Our first offering was a wonderfully creamy coconut soup with glass noodles and plenty of prawns. There was a real fresh coconut flavour to it and it was piping hot. Just a note, you'll see an oblong box sitting on all the tables, look inside and that's where you'll find the cutlery and chopsticks. In quick succession we were then presented with a pad Thai; fried pork with vegetables; a plate of green vegetables with pine nuts and a smoky sauce; a large omelette with mussels and oysters served on a smoking hot plate; and a whole steamed fish in a lemon and garlic sauce that should be bottled and sold it's that good. The whole fish is served on a platter, sitting on top of a hot plate that keeps the sauce gently bubbling. And the meat fell off the fish bones very easily. Do remember to flip the fish over once you've devoured one side of it.

       Every one of the dishes was different from similarly named creations we've tried elsewhere. The pad Thai was served with sliced, cured pork for instance. And all the individual flavours in each dish were quite discernible. They make it seem easy but I guess they're very well practised and Khun Grit and I can't recommend this restaurant highly enough. No matter what time of day or night it is, or where you're staying, if you love Thai food, go out of your way to spend some time at Git Pawshana. That's what the locals do.

 

Johnny Paterson


 


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