The Khao Lak rainy season in Thailand comes with several challenges. The amount of rain, the length of time the rain (continuously) falls, and arising storms that are inherent in all tropical environments, are three climatic conditions that visitors and residents must regularly contend with. A further challenge is that not all Khao Lak restaurants in the rainy season are open! Indeed, many close for at least some of the time during the rainy season, which extends from May till around October each year.
So, which restaurants are open during the Khao Lak rainy season, and which ones are worth going to? The answer to the former question can be readily determined, especially if you live in Khao Lak and frequent many of the hundreds of restaurants in the region. The answer to the second part of the question, however, is subjective. There is simply no accounting for taste. Period!
Nevertheless, when reviewing places to eat, general criteria can be proposed. In this post, I list 5 establishments I either frequent regularly, or only occasionally but still find worth listing. I use the word “establishment” because I considered venues that were not technically restaurants, like bars and cafes, but still provided cooked food. I also considered restaurants that were not necessarily open for lunch and/or dinner, but instead specialized in breakfast only. Finally, I have not included Khao Lak restaurants that are part of hotels or resorts, nor those that are particularly expensive. Instead, I focused on those that are in the mid-range of cost. I also included the overall restaurant environment as part of the experience. That is, both cuisine and shop atmosphere were mixed into the equation.
#1 – The Cultivated Banana Restaurant
The “Cultivated Banana” is located on the main Bang Niang thoroughfare opposite the large T.O.T. Internet service provider. It opens early in the morning every day and closes around 11am. It is, therefore, a restaurant providing breakfast only. An “American” breakfast, containing the usual fried eggs, sausages, toast and tomato ketchup is on the menu, but that is not why I regularly eat there. I go because they make the best rice soup and chicken, with an optional embedded soft-fried egg, in the Khao Lak area. The ladies serving the meals speak enough English to understand your order, but if you want to impress them, say “ao jaw ghai sai khai”, which literally means “I want the rice soup and chicken with an egg”. Follow this up with one or more of the tasty morsels that have been steamed in the large woks, and you might leave as satisfied as I do each time I eat there. The soup costs around 40-50 baht, and should you indulge in the tasty morsels, the total cost is still likely to be less than 100 baht. A pot of hot tea and a glass of water with ice are provided free. On some days, a very tasty and sweet fried dessert is paced on the table for you to decide if you wish to further indulge yourself. The only reason I don’t go to this restaurant every morning is I am not always ready for food before 11am!
#2 – Qcumber Restaurant
(La On Village)
The Qcumber Restaurant is located in the Khao Lak center, otherwise known as La On. The owner, Ploy, originally opened the Qcumber a few hundred metres north on the same side of the road, but shifted to the current premises in 2019. The feature that distinguishes this restaurant from others is that the salads and wraps can be made to one’s exact specifications. There are several juices and shakes that can also be mixed-and-matched to get the ideal healthy drink. The other distinguishing feature of this Khao Lak restaurant is the food is really tasty but without necessarily adding to the girth of one’s waist! The restaurant has both Thai and more westernized food for consumption, and Ploy runs Thai cooking classes for those wanting to enhance their Thai cooking abilities. I usually order the Caesar salad or the chicken wrap; the former dish being lightish, while the latter dish has me leaving the restaurant satisfactorily full. Both dishes cost 169 baht. Ploy speaks English well and is always cheery and helpful. The Qcumber Restaurant usually closes for around 1 month each year in June, but is otherwise open for the rest of the Khao Lak rainy season. It is open every day from 11am to around 10pm.
#3 – Jim Fiske Restaurant
Jim is the Thai owner of the Jim Fiske Restaurant on the main Bang Niang road about 200 metres north of the Bang Niang market. The restaurant is open all-year-round for breakfast, lunch and dinner – the opening hours are from around 6am to 10pm. I mention the owner because she is a pocket dynamo and her name really is Jim! She speaks sufficient English to enable English-speaking customers to choose what they want in some detail, should it differ from the menu. There is, in fact, a large selection of items to choose from, ranging from traditional Thai dishes to well-known Western dishes. I essentially order one of 2 dishes. The first is the traditional Thai soup known as “khao tom gai”, which means rice soup and chicken. The other dish is spaghetti with cream sauce and prawns, which comes with a few slices of cucumber and a slice of bread. The soup costs around 80 baht, while the spaghetti costs 120 baht, a bargain for the great taste and quantity. I am a small eater so even Thai dishes, which are adapted to suit the leaner and smaller Thais, suits me well! The Jim Fiske Restaurant is very popular in the high tourist season (when the large premises can be choc-a-block), but there is always space during the Khao Lak rainy season.
#4 – The Scandinavian Corner Restaurant
The Scandinavian Corner Restaurant is located in Khuekkhak village, about 7 minutes from the Khao Lak centre. This is the place to go for a hearty meal, good company, and of course beer, which is served from the accompanying Offshore Bar. This is particularly the case on occasional Sundays when a full-blown barbecue is generated, and a smorgasbord of food appears at the back of the restaurant. On the serving table are meatballs, fried chicken, barbecued sausages, baked potatoes in aluminum jackets, corn-on-the-cob, pork ribs, and skewered vegetables and meat cubes similar to the well-known shish kebabs served in Turkish restaurants in the West. The owner of the establishment, Anders, is from Sweden. He was a seafarer back in the day, and he and his mates tell fascinating stories of what it was like to travel around the world on large ships. Anders speaks English well, so you can join in the conversation, at least until he inevitably reverts to his native Swedish! The Scandinavian Corner also has different types of accommodation, motorbikes for rent, and they provide a taxi service.
#5 – Juice from Mars Bar
Juice from Mars Bar is a hop-skip-and-jump from Bang Niang beach, and only a 4 minute short walk from the Waters Khao Lak by Katathani Resort. It’s not a restaurant per se, as the name obviously suggests, but they do provide breakfast meals such as grilled sausages. The owner, (usually referred to as “Mars” rather than his birth-name, Marcel), also bakes and serves gourmet baguettes and sandwiches that are, on occasion, a welcome relief from the Thai dishes in the Khao Lak region that essentially always come with rice! But that’s not where the unique quality of the bar ends. Mars also makes a Burmese tea leaf salad, the only one of its kind in the Khao Lak area. This dish is extremely tasty, and particularly suitable as a light meal before heading off for a walk through town, or even a swim in Bang Niang beach. I usually eat a plain or toasted tuna sandwich with mayonnaise, which comes with a few potato chips, a dollop of coleslaw and a spoonful of tomato ketchup that contains no sugar. All for 100 baht. Naturally, there is an assortment of juices and smoothies to choose from as well. Mars runs the establishment with his Thai lady, Kondee, which literally means “good person”, and is most apt.