If you ever come to Phuket, write this name down: Raya House. This is a unique restaurant… it combines ingredients that makes it unforgettable: great food in an amazing old Thai house kept just the way it has always been, no excessive renovation but clean and well kept. It is simple, unpretentious and feels just as a living house, like being invited in a Thai person’s home for lunch or dinner. It’s look like it was just maintained just this way for almost a hundred years.
The place, run mainly by two sisters, can accommodate quite a lot of guests on two floors, the second level being used when downstairs is full or for special occasions. A large balcony attached to the room upstairs makes it convenient for small parties.What you will notice mostly is the floor decorated tiles, typical of these Sino Portuguese houses and these have probably seen several generations of feet. The green wooden windows with bars and Portuguese tainted glass add the right color to the entire room.
For more than ten years I use to come to Raya house. The place hasn’t change much except for the ugly club someone had the indecency to build in front which hides half of it. At first the restaurant was pretty quiet as such houses were appreciated, but not yet considered ‘heritage’ nor really valuable. The food was good and affordable, and years after years, it got better, like a good wine. It didn’t happen overnight, they didn’t do any visible advertising… but people talked. Slowly but inexorably, the way a good restaurant becomes famous for what it does best, the place became well known across the country.
If you go for lunch, you still will get a table of course, and in the evening you might have to move upstairs, unless the a member of the royal family has booked the entire place. It is not unusual to see Bangkok celebs coming here for dinners with their friends. I personally wouldn’t be able to recognize any, but I know when one arrives! First you’ll hear a lot of whispering and giggling, then the photo sessions will start. Usually celebs play happily the game, so get in the queue and get one yourself. You might not know who that person is but you’ll have a good story to tell and a proof of it! I also often choose this place for business lunch, and guests are always delighted to experience this half hidden treasure.
Now about the food of course. Everyone agrees that the creamy crab meat curry with rice noodles (kanom Jeen) is their best specialty, Steamed pork with rice is great too, but watch out for the calories on this one. Pak Muang and Pak Liang are some nice fried pan veggies with dry shrimps or with pork, then you have to try the Tamarind prawns, a bit sweet to my taste, but many love it. For the rest, you just have to pick from their long English menu.
How to get there: in Phuket Town, On Dibuk road, next to the bridge. People use to say “behind the ugly pseudo Japanese restaurant called Shintaro”, but it’s now gone and will become a club so I guess I’ll have to update this post soon!
Good point : the restaurant has quite a large parking in the back, the access in just next to the bridge.
Raya House is # 25 on the map – View Phuket101 – Phuket Map in a larger map