Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Eating In Hua Hin

Hua Hin is about three hours by road from Bangkok, and as such is a very popular getaway for those from the Thai capital. It isn't, by any stretch, the liveliest resort in Thailand, but I'm an old git so I don’t really care. Besides, who needs full moon parties when there is abundant seafood!

My favourite restaurant in Hua Hin is Lung Ja Seafood, which can be found on a stretch of Daychanuchit Road where the night market is located. On my first visit I ordered a whole red snapper in tom yum soup laced with coconut milk. This was a quite amazing dish with a proper spicy soup (just look at the amount of aromatics they put in it) coupled with tender, just-cooked fish. I wasn't sure about the coconut milk at first, but it made the dish into a kind of hot and sour curry, which is no bad thing in my book. By the way, remember to insist on this dish to be cooked 'Thai spicy'.

On my second visit I went for lobster. Whilst it was perfectly cooked on the barbecue, with hindsight I wouldn't have gone with the sweet tamarind sauce, as there just wasn't enough zing. On the other hand I was very pleased with the morning glory, which was stir-fried with plenty of garlic and chilli.

Of the other places I tried in Hua Hin, Koti Restaurant is probably my next favourite. It can also be found on Daychanuchit Road albeit across the road from where the night market starts. The menu is quite comprehensive with all the greatest hits from the Thai canon along with a smattering of Chinese and Thai-Chinese dishes. I really liked the warm salad of seafood & glass noodle (yum woon sen), which had a pleasing yet powerful, spicy sour kick to it. The wok skills here are also very good as exemplified by dishes like stir-fried seafood with peppercorns.

I also liked the crab sausage, which is to all intents and purposes the Teochew-Chinese dish of ngo hiang 五香 - crab and pork meat wrapped in beancurd skin, then deep-fried. Unlike the Chinese version, I couldn't really discern any five-spice flavour, but it was tasty and moreish nonetheless. Incidentally, versions of this dish are very popular in Malaysia and Singapore.

Hua Hin's night market is great for a stroll although I didn't really eat any proper meals there. However, I did enjoy snacks such as rotee (the local Romanised spelling of roti) and the coconut custard puddings known as khanom krok (thanks to MiMi for letting me know what these are). I think I liked the idea of khanom krok, with its crispy outer and wobbly centre, more than the execution, as the ones I tried weren't that sweet or coconutty. Perhaps they're meant to be like that.

The various guidebooks and online guides often cite Sang Thai and Chao Lay as Hua Hin's 'go-to' seafood restaurants. Both have excellent locations with piers stretching into the sea and serve dishes such as fried mantis shrimp (pissing prawns) with garlic, blue swimmer crab & glass noodle claypot, oyster omelette and mixed seafood platters. Both places were decent enough, but I think Lung Ja Seafood is a better restaurant in terms of value and quality. Next stop, Bangkok.

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