The small things in travel typically leave the greatest impressions. We went to Thailand to play golf, but it’s a Tuesday lunch we’ll remember forever. Every meal during our time in Thailand was sensational, but it’s the Laem Sai Seafood Restaurant in the Thalang District of the Phuket Province that triumphs. Recently caught fish and crabs are in tanks at the restaurant’s entrance. It’s a no-frills locals spot with cuisine and views fit for royals. In the distance are islands with jungle covered mini-mountains. The ocean water looks like a blue topaz precious stone.
A small wooden bridge connects the kitchen to the dining dock on stilts above water. It has a straw roof and there’s a gentle sea breeze. Singha, one of Thailand’s most popular beers is served ice cold. Whole fish are pulled from tanks, scaled, cleaned and wok fried for three to four minutes. Out of the grease, fish are salted, topped with fresh garlic and served. The meat is firm and moist – the outside is crispy. It’s simple, yet delicious. Served with the fish is the greatest fried rice of all time. Also presented early in the multi-course family style meal is an omelet with pak miang, a green leafy vegetable similar to spinach, but better.
Like a good book that gets better with each chapter – this meal crescendos. The next course brings the heat. Mussels in a bird’s eye chili bath is a dish that evokes a gamut of emotions: joy, tears, fear, gratitude and victory.
The mussels are spicy, but worth it. The heat rolls and crashes like waves in the ocean. We dare one another to go back for more – the dish is both delicious and a badge of honor. This meal is a masterpiece – the ambiance, quality, spice and cold drinks are poetry.
Laem Sai’s approach is simple: simple recipes and fresh ingredients. We look at the small kitchen on the way out. There aren’t a lot of ingredients to choose from. There are a few baskets of fresh vegetables such as green and white onion, garlic, bird peppers, tomatoes and carrots. A young man is cleaning fish with a clever.
Lunch at Laem Sai is perfection without ego – here it’s more about pride.
Address: 330 ถนนนํ้าตกโตนใทร Tambon Thep Krasatti, Amphoe Thalang, Chang Wat Phuket 83110, Thailand