When I went to Phuket recently, I wanted to look for off-the-beaten path experiences to write about, rather than the usual attractions. That was how I stumbled upon Mor Mu Dong, a hidden gem in the Chalong district that apparently has a Michelin Bib Gourmand (it’s kinda like a ‘budget’ Michelin star award).
Because it’s far from commercial centres and rather difficult to find, not many foreigners frequent the place. It is, however, very popular with the locals – which is always a sure sign of a winner!
Our driver took us through small roads past quaint housing estates, until we pulled up to a …mangrove swamp? The place looked trippy: there was a garden filled with shrooms (mushroom shaped buildings, that is) and various nipah huts, some floating over the water’s edge, others on stilts over the sand. You dine cross-legged on the floor in the private huts, while the larger huts have simple plastic tables and chairs.
Despite the scorching weather, it was surprisingly cool inside one of the larger huts. The rustic settings were quaint and charming – from the old-school calendars (the type where you have to tear off pages each day), to the standing fans set up at strategic corners for better ventilation and cooling. Peering up, we noticed that the inside of the roof had been covered with cartoon bed sheets, presumably for an extra layer of protection against the heat.
View from our table!
It was lunch time and the restaurant was filled with locals, mostly families. There was only one other foreign couple. There are waiters here who speak English though, and the menu has an English translation. Food is Thai style and they have lots of dishes, from chicken, pork and beef to seafood offerings, veggies, tofu and egg.
If you like spicy food, their signature is the Pla Tu Yat Sai, or boneless mackerel. This tedious dish involves deboning the fish and blending the scraped flesh with chilli paste and curry powder, before stuffing it back into the fish and deep frying it. When we ordered, the waitress cautioned it would be spicy, but thankfully my Malaysian palate held up well (ie some sniffling but no pain in the ears or crying). Really liked how crispy it was on the outside, and packed with the flavour of fish and spices on the inside.
We also ordered stir-fried squid with garlic (fresh and garlicky!), flambe-style morning glory and Tom Kha Gai (chicken boiled with coconut milk and galangal), which was good but not as good as the one we had at OrientAsia @ Movenpick Karon Beach. The dishes were served with pineapple and guava slices as well as cucumbers and long beans with a sweet and sour dipping sauce.
While the settings are rustic and the service is basic, Mor Mu Dong is a must for those looking for an unconventional dining experience – and prices are reasonable too!
HOW TO GET THERE
Look out for Phuket Zoo as a landmark. Turn left down the last road before Palai Seafood on the beach and carry on until you see a blue Luk Lay restaurant sign. Keep going straight and turn into the first lane heading right.
MOR MU DONG
9/4 Moo 3, Soi Pa Lai, Chao Fa Road, Mueang, Phuket
Business hours: 10AM – 9.30PM (Daily)
Tel: +66 (0)76 282 302