Jim Fiske is one of the many Khao Lak restaurants that serve a mixture of Western food and Thai food. It is located on the left-hand-side of the main street of Bang Niang as you walk north, which hosts many of the Khao Lak restaurants from La On to Khuekkhak. It is positioned around two hundred metres north of the Bang Niang market. Because of the large influx of tourists in the region, lots of outlets serve food of a typically mixed Thai/Western restaurant. Khao Lak also has restaurants that specialize in one or other of the two cuisines, such as the Isaan Hot Pot, which is focussed mainly on food from the state of Isaan, a region in the north-east of Thaiand.
The Jim Fiske restaurant has a large menu encompassing many of Thailand’s well-known dishes as well as those characteristic of “farang” countries. The word “farang” is often used to designate Westerners, although generically it refers to people from European backgrounds, especially Caucasians. Like many colloquial words and expressions all over the world, the word “farang” is not necessarily derogative. It depends on the context in which it is said and the way it is said. I don’t easily get offended anyway, and often joke with Thais by calling myself a “farang gnor”, a stupid Westerner. It’s probably not far from the truth!
Today I have decided to eat a popular dish known in Thai as “khao tom gai”. The best translation for this in English is “chicken soup and rice.” It is the dish I most often order for lunch. Some Thai restaurants will include an egg in the soup, so if you want to be sure an egg is not added, then use the very poetically rhyming expression: “khao tom gai, mai sai kai”. Literally this means “rice soup and chicken without eggs.” It’s a mouthful, and likely to be horribly mispronounced by you and misunderstood by the locals, but Thai waiters, and Thai people in general, are usually pleased that you have at least given it a go. If I am not understood, I usually pull out my smartphone and use the Google Translate app!
My Thai friend, who has accompanied me to lunch this afternoon, is eating a dish I highly recommend you do not order unless you know how to qualify the order. It is called “tom yum goong”, which is a hot-and-sour soup with prawns/shrimps. My friend is a Thai lady from Isaan and she has asked the chef to add more chilli to the soup and accompanying boiled rice. I tried to eat this dish on an occasion several years before, and can even now feel the chilli burning my throat and stomach! But, if you must try it, then at least say you want the soup “mhai phet” (not spicy), or at the very least “phet nit-noi”, only a little bit spicy. All that being said, I do actually like spicy food, especially those cooked in either of the Indian or Thai traditions, but you have been warned. This dish is not to be toyed with, unless you are person of immense experience with foods containing chilli… or a masochist!
Khao Lak beach restaurants abound in Bang Niang, as well as in many of the other Khao Lak villages; however, they are pricier and are usually oriented more towards Westerners. The soup I am consuming in the Jim Fiske restaurant will set me back 50 baht, which is the equivalent of around $1.50. That suits me fine. Also, Jim Fiske is a welcoming Thai lady who speaks sufficient English to be clearly understood. If you ask her about why she named the restaurant Jim S Fiske (and how come she goes by the strange name “Jim”), you will undoubtedly be told about the real Jim Fiske who used to travel all the way from Sweden to go fishing. Half the enjoyment of eating at Khao Lak restaurants is chatting with the owners!