Samui Wining & Dining
Going Native

Joining the locals on Maenam Beach for a chilled-out afternoon at Rasta Baby.

 

20Let me start by saying that this is about a Thai restaurant and bar on the beach and not a Jamaican influenced reggae pub. The name might lead you to think that, but there isn’t a Bob Marley song to be heard nor any multi-coloured flags or hats.


This restaurant has been here for about 15 years or so and at the time there were two other places called Rasta Baby on the beaches in Maenam and Bophut. All were owned by members of the same family and they used the same name, calling them 1, 2 and 3 respectively. No-one seems to remember how the name came about but it stuck. Both of the other ones have since closed but this one remains as popular as ever and is now run by the owner’s daughter, Khun Saifon, and her English husband, Will.


Mum and dad still help out and live there and everyone who works at the restaurant is a family member. Will comes from Northamptonshire in the UK and first came to the island ten years ago on his way to Australia. He soon came back and over time he got to know Khun Saifon and they’ve now been married for five years. They and their three children spent four of those years back in the UK but have returned to Samui to run the restaurant. Khun Saifon speaks perfect English but with a bit of a London accent that neither of them can quite explain!


Finding the restaurant does need some directions. Coming from Chaweng on the ring-road go through the traffic lights in Bophut. After a couple of kilometres you’ll pass Zazen Boutique Resort at a bend in the road and a few kilometres after that you’ll see a string of half a dozen bars on the right-hand side (including Lemon’s Bar, the Secret Garden and Jack’s Bar). When you see them slow down and indicate right, about five metres after Jack’s Bar there’s a small track, it’s directly opposite the Shandy Café. Go down this track about 400 metres and you’ll see the back of the restaurant and the beach where there’s plenty of parking space. If you do get lost you can give them a call on 0 848 451 669 and they’ll guide you in.


Open from 8:00 am until late into the night, Rasta Baby is a typical old-style ‘hut’ on the beach, although they can comfortably seat 50 people. This is a quiet stretch of white sand and you can see right around the whole of Maenam Bay with Koh Pha-Ngan in the background. There’s a comprehensive menu with around 100 dishes, the majority of them being Thai specialities. They do, however, serve breakfast and have a regular following. You can get a big plate of eggs, sausage, ham and toast with fruit juice and coffee for 150 baht. Omelettes start from 60 baht and there’re some great warm pancakes with banana, honey, lemon or chocolate at 50-70 baht. You can also get sandwiches and baguettes for between 50-70 baht and a burger and chips for 90 baht.


Turning the page, there’s a good selection of salads with seafood, chicken or vegetables and spicy Thai-style papaya salads. There’re also some tasty soups, like tom yam goong (a sweet and sour prawn soup), a spicy red curry soup and a creamy coconut soup with chicken. Stir-fried noodles (60-70 baht) come with chicken, pork, beef, prawns, squid, mixed seafood or vegetables and they always ask you how spicy you want any of the dishes. Rice-based options (50-70 baht) also have a choice of protein as do sweet-and-sour and fried choices and you can have them cooked with a variety of seasonings, including: garlic and pepper, lemon, oyster sauce, chilies, basil, onions and/or cashew nuts. Green, red, yellow, Massaman and panang curries are perennial favourites with some rice and they even have a spaghetti bolognaise (80 baht) on the menu.


Maenam has a very good fish market in Soi 6 and Khun Saifon pops along there every day for fresh seafood. I would recommend you have a look at it but it opens around 4:00 am and by 8:30 am it’s all but over so it does require an early start. Huge tiger prawns, sea bass, snapper and barracuda top the list of regulars’ favourites and you can have whole fish steamed, grilled, barbecued or fried with any combination of sauces and flavourings that you like. When I went there recently with my family we had a whole sea bass with lemon and chilies and it was delicious as were the giant prawns with garlic and pepper. I can also recommend the Maenam fried rice which is a meal in itself and comes with prawns and vegetables and a sweet dipping sauce.


They have plenty of fresh juices and shakes (40 baht) and you have banana, pineapple, papaya, orange, lemon, watermelon, mango and coconut to choose from. Beers start from just 50 baht and they have a decent range of cocktails from 100 baht and they’re ideal for a late afternoon’s laze on the beach. No doubt you’ll spend a day or two of your time on Samui exploring the island and getting off the beaten track. Maenam is on the north of the island and Rasta Baby is a perfect place to stop off and chill-out for a while.

 


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