A local Michelin Restaurant in north Phuket
Ta Tuay is a little known local restaurant, hidden not far from the Sarasin Bridge in the very north of Phuket. Ta Tuay serves excellent local food and dishes from Phuket and some unusual specialities from Mai Khao Beach, such as sandworms and sea cicadas. Their seafood is always very deliciously fresh, and the team is friendly, even when the restaurant is packed, which is most of the time.
While it is truly a local, Ta Tuay is charming and beautifully decorated, more than the usual hole in the wall that local joints often are. The restaurant also has two large air-conditioned rooms, an outdoor sitting area and a few tables in a fancy green garden. Despite being far and well hidden, the restaurant is packed on weekends and judging by the expensive cars parked outside; you can tell that the food addresses a knowledgeable upmarket clientele. Remember that you should not come without booking in advance as there is a long waiting list!
What to order?
The food at Ta Tuay Restaurant is very local, with many dishes from Phuket and some that even are known to be specialities of the north of Phuket. The menu is long and very tempting if you are familiar with spicy southern cuisine, and it will require several visits to cover the most famous dishes. We went for the most unusual dishes on the menu because there would be no point to order fried rice! What we ordered was a bit too extreme, but it was fun. We had ‘green caviar’ (officially known as Caulerpa Lentillifera), tiny beads of slimy algae on a branch. It does look good for a photo, and many seem to love it, but it was a little too slimy to our taste.
The second dish, one of our all-time favourites and probably one of the strangest dish you will get to try in Thailand is called ‘Yum Kai Mang Da Talay‘, or Horseshoe eggs salad. It’s not a dish for first-timers, but it is delicious and unique once you get past the ‘crab’s prehistoric appearance.
The next dish on the menu is even more unusual and is a speciality from this part of Phuket: a sandworm salad! It took us some courage to eat this one, especially if you search for ‘sandworms’ on Google before starting. Surprisingly, the dish looks like a macaroni salad, but the texture is crunchy and pretty unique once in your mouth. The taste is difficult to describe but not very strong, and it is more about the experience than the taste. Next time, we’ll try the deep-fried version; it might be more to our liking.
What makes a restaurant successful and unique is, of course, the chef. Khun Klak is a gentle, talented and dedicated person. Despite the bustling restaurant and the apparent race in the kitchen, she came and took personal care of us (as usual, we came unannounced, and she didn’t know we were here for a restaurant review). She just felt sorry when she saw how disappointed we were to hear the restaurant was packed and the queue was about 45 minutes! However, she managed to accommodate us nicely and was so friendly.
Ta Tuay is a unique and authentic experience if you travel to Phuket and taste authentic local food. The food is excellent, the restaurant welcoming, the staff and chef always friendly and helpful. It is far from the main beaches, and it requires booking in advance, but if you are a food lover, this will be a unique experience.