Samui Wining & Dining
Going Native

Joining the locals for lunch at Krok Lanna, Thai salad and barbecue restaurant.

 

18Now, this month's Going Native is an absolute breeze for me to write, because its actually my favourite place to eat on the whole island. And I say that with absolute, unwavering conviction. Sure, as a restaurant reviewer I’ve eaten at some fine dining establishments and been cooked for by Michelin starred chefs, but when it comes to every day dining, it’s the simple things that please me the most.

    The primary reason this is by far my preferred eatery is simply the food. The quality and freshness of all their ingredients never falters – every dish is made from scratch using market-fresh produce. Some of the dishes may seem a bit strange to people who haven’t tried them before, but there’s nothing too funky like chicken feet or anything like that. Essentially they serve simple street food that never disappoints.

      So what do they make? There’s sort of a two-fold ordering process that most people adhere to at Thai salad shops – the specialities being a variety of salads and barbecued meat. At the front of the restaurant is a glass cabinet where all the salad ingredients are kept, and to one side of that is a barbecue sizzling away, which rustles up pork, chicken and fish. The average diner at Krok Lanna will choose a salad and some barbecued meat alongside some sticky rice.

      Any meat dish comes with a complimentary tamarind sauce that is so moreish I find myself craving it first thing in the morning, every day. It’s comprised of tamarind juice – extracted from a pure tamarind block – fish sauce and chili. On top of that are scattered pieces of chopped spring onion and ground, toasted rice. It's an excellent accompaniment to the barbecued pork and chicken – I love it so much I even dip my sticky rice in it too.

       The most common orders from the barbecue are pork and chicken, which are chopped into centimetre thick, ultra-juicy strips, which are placed on a plate alongside that infinitely scrumptious tamarind sauce that I’m so fond of. But that’s not all they’ve got – there’s also sun-dried pork and catfish too.

      Each salad comes with a free side plate of chopped vegetables, including cucumber, green beans and cabbage. As a side dish it’s obviously refreshing and tastes good, but also serves a purpose beyond that. Let’s say you accidentally chomp on a big chilli that was secretly lurking underneath a larger than average piece of mango, or blending in with a tomato. You may find yourself with a mouth burning so hot that you begin to make that strange open-mouthed hissing noise that people tend to make after consuming a spicy mouthful, chow down on these vegetables and that pain will almost miraculously subdue.

      But you shouldn’t have to resort to desperately scrambling across the table to find anything to quell your dragon breath, as the owners are more than happy to adjust the spice levels in accordance to your tolerance. Generally speaking, in Thai food the spice levels are gauged by number of chilis per dish. So many farangs (foreigners) just specify, “one chili”, as their measurement. Two chilis ups the ante, and three in a single salad is reaching local levels – although some of the locals can get up to 10 or more!

      One lovely addition to the whole Thai salad experience is sticky rice. It’s not the kind you get when you order mango with sticky rice dessert, which is obviously quite sweet, this is a savoury version. At Krok Lanna it comes in small, one-person woven baskets. You just pop the lid off and break away chunks of it with your hands, as and when you want some – as opposed to piling it onto your plate like you would with normal rice. As the rice sticks together – hence the name sticky rice – it comes away in neat little balls that have a wonderful chewy texture.

      So, now that I’m sure you’re more than convinced and are just dying to try the food for yourself, I’ll tell you how to get there – and don’t worry, although local, it’s not too hard to find. On the main road that takes you from Chaweng to Bangrak there’s a 7/11 right next to the road called Soi 4, Krok Lanna is located right across the road from the Soi 4 entrance and 7/11. The restaurant is an open-air spot, situated on a slightly raised concrete platform. Blue awnings jut out over the front part of the venue and a white wooden board depicting a pestle and mortar along with some Thai writing around it is their roadside, restaurant signage.

      The opening hours are from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm, so it’s a great spot for lunch or an afternoon snack. I really can’t recommend this place enough. My friends and I call it “The Mango Shop”, and not only do I dine there a ridiculous number of times a week, but it’s also become my preferred meeting spot on the island. The atmosphere is so comfortable and casual that my friends and I just eat and chat away for hours. It’s not fancy, it’s not fine dining, but if you’re after some great local grub that’s tasty and healthy too then it’s absolutely perfect. All I can say is I’ll see you there sometime soon!

 

Cristina Wylie


 


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