Raya Thai Cuisine, Phuket, Thailand
by Chef Peter Webber
If you have heard of, or are lucky enough to have been to Raya Restaurant in Phuket Town it will have probably have been because of the Pork Stew with Garlic and Pepper which is famous in its own right. I cannot go too often as it’s just not good for my waistline but when I go to Raya not only do I stuff a whole portion by myself but I cannot leave without another portion in a doggy bag and of course the dog doesn’t even exist!
Located on New Debuk Road just as you getting to the center of Phuket Town is Raya Thai Cuisine housed in a wonderfully old colonial style house, unfortunately a little more old than wonderful but one does not go there to look at the décor! There is ample parking at the back of the restaurant which is down a little road to the left of the restaurant. You can also enter the restaurant from the back where you can sneak a look at what’s going on in the kitchens.
Pa Kulaab (pronounced Baa Kulaab) is the owner of Raya and the creator of the famous pork stew as well as many other delicious Thai dishes served on the premises and is there most days. She is a wonderful Thai lady and a true Phuketian, I dare not guess her age but she is full of energy and always has a smile for you, willing to answer any questions you may have as long as you’re not after her recipes, forget it I have tried many times to extract the secrets!
The restaurant has 2 levels but as yet I have never eaten upstairs but either offers the same experience. This is a “Thai” restaurant, the level of English is enough to get you the necessities and the service is efficient and always of course with a smile, even when they get it wrong!
This evening I invited some Thai friends to dinner as I believe they have a more objective opinion on their own food and also as this is a great part of the history of Phuket Food which they love to enjoy. The menu is quite extensive but easy to read and I like the way they have categorized it, they have a full page devoted to their popular and favourite dishes which I normally order.
For this evening we ordered as usual dishes to be shared family style and they were:
Local Phuket vegetable salad (Pak goon) with squid which was interesting and had a crunch similar to seaweed, fresh and not too spicy.
Deep fried chicken with Curcuma, Turmeric which gave an interesting flavour.
Stir fried Sa-taw with shrimps, these look much the same as broad beans but with a very pungent taste, I like to eat them with steamed rice as it diffuses the strong taste.
Crab meat curry with coconut milk and Mee Hoon noodles, full of crabmeat and taste but you’ve got to like it spicy, just a spoonful of sauce with a lot of noodles is enough for me!
Omelet with deep fried pork belly melts in your mouth and the combination of textures is delicious.
Pork Stew, steamed pork with garlic and pepper Phuket style, belly pork slowly cooked with all those secret ingredients of Pa Kulaab, this is the dish you must try. I love it!
Our choices of dishes were all quite heavy and rich as these are the ones I love here but there are also plenty of other delicious dishes for those who have more control over their diets, so do not fear!
The wine list at Raya is limited but adequate and they all pair well with Thai food and the prices are also fair. Personally I don’t normally drink wine with Thai food, I prefer a good cold beer and water which I drink plenty of, especially if I didn’t spot one of these fiery chilies coming my way!
Raya is open daily for lunch and dinner but for dinner I would recommend a reservation. Also worth a mention, this is a cash only restaurant so make sure you have enough or you’ll be jogging down to the ATM which is not recommended after a bowl of Pa Kulaab's delicious pork stew!
Reason to visit: Great traditional Phuket food dishes especially the Pork Stew.
Downside: If very busy the food can be a little inconsistent.
Food Prices: Med-High Range
Appetizers from 160 Baht ++
Main Courses from 300 ++
Raya Thai Cuisine, Phuket, Thailand
48 New Debuk Cross Road,
Amphur Muang Phuket,
Telephone: +66 (0) 76 218 155 +66 (0) 81 376 6958
Fax: +66 (0) 76 200 921
E mail: email@example.com
Local Vegetable Salad with Squid
Deep Fried Chicken with Curcuma
Crab Meat Curry with Noodles
Stir Fried Sa-taw with Shrimps
Omelette with Pork
Steamed Pork with Garlic and Pepper Phuket Style
Pa Kulaab with Khun Witoon
Myself and Thai Friends at Raya Restaurant