Samui Wining & Dining
Going Native

Joining the locals for some Southern Thai food at Kod-Like Samui.

 

18Going Native is a monthly feature we do at Samui Wining & Dining whereby we seek out a truly local venue where you can try some truly local cuisine! This month I went to sample the culinary delights of an eatery in the Plai Laem/Choeng Mon area. Kod-Like Samui is a cute roadside restaurant on the main road that goes through Plai Laem, just past 7/11 on your right-hand side if you’re coming from the Chaweng direction. Look for the big white sign that has the name of the restaurant on it in English.

    From the road you can see traditional straw hats and multi-coloured pieces of fabric hanging from a rope. This example of creative artistry is very much a prelude of what’s to come inside the venue. Many local restaurants hand-make decorative elements from materials they find and buy locally, so each item is one of a kind, and collectively they give the place a unique character.

   When you walk into the venue you’ll notice on your left-hand side five free-standing, open-air wooden salas with grass roofs. The salas are just big enough to fit a low wooden table with mats around it, khantoke style, each seating four to six people. Then to the right, there are hand-crafted wooden stairs that lead up to a raised structure with even more seating. Whilst the whole restaurant is technically open-air, some sort of roof covers every table, so you’re sheltered from the elements.

      The owner's name is Khun Yodpetch Chainarong, but be goes by the nickname, Yod. He opened up Kod-Like Samui three months ago with the intention of it being a teashop. But when a lot of customers starting asking if he served food, he decided to oblige. Knowing nothing about food himself, he brought in his two sisters who are masters at cooking Southern Thai food.

       They make a fabulous white snapper dish, which is a whole white snapper, deep fried and topped with strips of green mango, coriander, chili, garlic and onions. The fish is crunchy on the outside, while the meat in the middle is lovely and moist.

      The special southern style noodle soup served at Kod-Like (Kouy Jab) has already become quite popular with the locals, as it’s one of the only places on the island you can get it. Inside are pork pieces, a halved preserved egg and chunks of liver, along with short rolled noodles, about two inches long. The soup base is a pork broth, and the whole lot is garnished with fresh, chopped pieces of spring onion and coriander. One interesting thing you’ll notice is that it comes served in a bowl made from a coconut. It’s accompanied by small pots, which you can use to add flavouring to taste – there’s brown sugar, chili flakes, fish sauce and spicy vinegar.

      The coconut salad’s made of crunchy coconut and carrot pieces, which look like wavy French fries, dried shrimps, beans, tomatoes, peanuts, and a tangy lime juice and fish sauce dressing. There’s also a very-local papaya salad, comprising strings of green papaya, mussels, tomatoes and a spicy fish sauce dressing.

      To drink they've got juices, shakes and cocktails. Yod prides himself on making them in a healthy way, he uses low-fat milk, for example, and doesn’t add sugar. He lets the fruit shine on its own. He also makes a Thai cocktail popular with teenagers in Bangkok – a potent mixture of vodka and Thai whiskey. And coming soon are southern-style pancakes and desserts.

      Yod wants Kod-Like Samui to be a place for people to come after work and hang out with an iced tea, coffee or shake. Each of the free-standing wooden huts has its very own built-in speakers, and in the future he plans to buy some sunbeds to put in the central floor space so that people can watch movies or sing folk songs in the evenings.

      He's constantly updating and improving the décor and has just made a concrete trough to grow rice in. It’s a decorative element that really echoes the local style. He doesn't shy away from hard work and learns trades as he goes along. For example, he taught himself construction when he built the salas, and learnt plumbing for the toilets. He's also planning to grow his own vegetables on-site, that way he knows there are no chemicals used. He already has some thriving banana trees, so it looks like gardening is another skill he can add to his ever-growing CV.

      The opening hours are stated as 3:00 pm - 1:00 am on the sign, but it stays open later if customers are still there. The staff actually arrive at the restaurant much earlier that 3:00 pm to set up, and so customers sometimes pop in before the restaurant is officially open to see if they can grab some food, and if the ingredients are there, Yod obliges. His guests feel comfortable and that's just the way he likes it. He has deliberately created a low-key, atmosphere so diners can feel like they are family. And to his credit: that's just how I felt.

 

Christina Wylie


 


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