If you’re on the hunt for a family-friendly seafood spot right on the beach in Phuket, Kan Eang 2 in Ao Chalong is a fine choice, with a variety of delicious Thai dishes on the menu.
This long-running, locally-run restaurant is large, offering mostly outdoor dining along the sands of Chalong Bay. Simply furnished with sturdy wooden tables and none-too-comfortable metal chairs, the restaurant’s design is nothing to write home about. But its elaborate landscaping immerses you into a lush tropical scene with its thatch-roof huts, bright flowers and giant trees, not to mention the great views across Chalong Bay.
The bay water is not suitable for swimming, but kids will love to run around on the sand, while their parents will relish the chance to enjoy their Singha beers or cocktails in peace. In the evening there’s a live band or guitarist playing mostly soft background music that doesn’t intrude upon the serene waterfront setting.
For older guests or those with limited mobility, there’s a golf cart service to ferry people from the car park right to their table. More recently, some snazzier additions have been made to the restaurant, including a two-storey glass-enclosed building that’s mainly used for events. As well, the toilets have been given an upgrade and now sit in a fancy-looking building adorned with bamboo.
Kan Eang 2’s appeal also rests in its pricing, which is very reasonable for a Phuket restaurant in such a coveted location. Most of its trade comes from price-conscious Thai families who demand authentic tastes. Many of Kan Eang’s main dishes are in the 100 to 150 baht range.
Open for lunch and dinner, the chicken, beef, duck and pork dishes are adequate but it’s best to go for the seafood, which we’ve found to be better in quality and taste. It’s certainly fresh. You can even select your own lobster and crab live from the tanks behind the dining area.
Among our favourites: prawn stir-fried with lemongrass and chilli, tom yum seafood soup, crab curry, haw mok (curried crab mousse wrapped in banana leaf, served at 25 baht a piece), and any variety of fish, steamed or grilled. Whole fish smoked over coconut husks has an especially rich flavour — you’ll have to wait 20 minutes or so for it.
The service is generally good here regardless of how busy it is, though we think it’s slipped a bit — on more recent visits it seems more of a challenge to grab the wait staff’s attention. One irksome thing that has remained consistent in our many visits is that the dishes usually arrive first, then you’re left salivating over all the aromatic, steaming plates of fabulous Thai food while you wait, then wait some more, for the rice to come.
Anyway, yes, you do need to be patient here sometimes but a hurried meal is not the point of dining at Kan Eang 2. It’s a place to relax with friends, savour your food, watch the longtail boats putter in the distance and enjoy those island views.
To get to Kan Eang 2, travel about a kilometre north of Chalong Circle on Chaofa East Road and you’ll spot a sign for Kan Eang 2 at the entrance to a soi (small lane) on the right side. The restaurant is at the end of this narrow soi. The owners also operate a sister restaurant at Chalong Pier called Kan Eang @ Pier. It’s also a good choice with a bigger menu that includes Japanese fare, but more upscale and pricier as a result.
Address: 9/3 Chaofa Road, Ao Chalong
T: (076) 381 323, (076) 381 694
Lana Willocks is a freelance writer from Canada based in Phuket. Her love affair with Thailand began on a university exchange programme in Bangkok, then she returned to Phuket on the auspicious date of 9-9-1999 and never left.