Outside its swanky resorts, Ko Yao Noi’s dining choices are mostly local and low key. The island has few independent restaurants geared towards travellers, though it’s now possible to find a pizza here without too much trouble.
The market in the main village is the best spot to find cheap local food, while at the beaches most dining options are at restaurants attached to resorts or bungalows. With the 99% Muslim population, pork is unlikely to be on most menus and any restaurants not catering to travellers will not serve alcohol.
Found in the Nawik village centre, there’s little in the way of views here, but J’Taime is all about the food. Outside the high-end resorts this is the most sophisticated, thoughtful dining spot to be found on Yao Noi and probably the only place you’ll need a reservation during the high season. Danish-French owned, it serves Thai seafood, French cuisine and some fusion dishes, plus cocktails and wines. Open 12:00 to 22:00, last orders 21:30. Closed Mondays. T: (076) 597 495.
Tha Khao Bay View Bungalows
Perched on the hillside overlooking Tha Khao beach, the open-air restaurant attached to the bungalows has become the go-to spot for dinner in the area. The Thai food here is just ok, but it’s well priced (by Yao Noi standards) and the views are spectacular. The family running it is attentive and warm. Open all day. Take care on the hill getting up here as it’s very steep and often littered with pebbles. T: (086) 942 0812; (083) 395 5885.
With a collection of wooden tables set under tin and thatch-roof salas, this rustic restaurant won’t win any design awards, but its location is tops for those looking for a slice of local island life. Set just back from the stilted houses of the small fishing village at Tha Tondo pier along Yao Noi’s west coast, Pradu serves up Thai seafood, naturally, at reasonable prices, mostly in the 100 to 200 baht range. Try to go in the evening to catch the sunset views. T: (076) 597015; (087) 621 4134
Sabai Corner restaurant
The service here is less than impressive but Sabai Corner’s waterfront setting at the southern headland of Klong Jark beach is magnificent. The menu lists a good range of Italian and Thai dishes. It’s the place to go for those with a pasta fix, and its wooden open-air dining area has a cosy feel that you’ll want to linger at for a while. T: (076) 597 497
Suntisook Resort restaurant
Just like being in Grandma’s kitchen. Well, you are in Grandma’s kitchen here, just not your own grandma’s. Set just across the road from Tha Khao beach, this family-run restaurant attached to the bungalow resort is not at all fancy but the Thai food is fresh and well priced. And it’s just about the friendliest place you’ll find on Yao Noi. Worth a stop for lunch at least. Open 07:30 to 21:30. T: (076) 582 750