Ceramic Kitchen in Phuket’s central interior offers little in the way of views, but it serves up an impressive menu and a beautiful, enchanted-garden setting. It’s also a showcase for the colourful ceramics designed by a local family and crafted in the attached factory.
Found along the busy road linking the Heroines’ Monument roundabout to the beaches of Bang Tao and Surin, its location is uninspiring but once you step inside it doesn’t matter. Set under a long thatched roof with warm yellow clay walls, this open-air restaurant is adorned with colourful ceramics and clay statues in playful poses around the garden. A fountain and koi pond through the centre of the restaurant add a touch of serenity to the otherwise brightly-coloured scene.
The vivid and unusual ceramic crockery and design accents are seen in many of Phuket’s top resorts and villas. A shop in the back sells all sorts of dishes, incense holders, statues, tiles and more, so be sure to leave enough time to shop as well as dine here.
The menu, or rather two menus, one Thai and one Western, is rather ambitious with everything from traditional fish and chips to khao obb sapparod (rice with chicken, prawn and cashew nut served in a carved-out pineapple), plus pages and pages of salads and seafood. It’s a picky eater’s dream.
Choosing is a challenge: nachos, pate, roasted half-chicken in herbs, goong sarong (prawn wrapped with crispy noodle) or a seared tuna sandwich? A Texas mega burger or tom yum? There’s even an all-day breakfast here, even though the restaurant doesn’t open till 13:00.
With such a big food selection and the two giant teakwood banquet tables, each of which seats 20 or so, Ceramic Kitchen is an ideal spot for a group outing or a party. So pity the poor food reviewer, party of one, who had to limit her lunch to only two dishes!
We (ok I) went for one Thai dish, laab tuna (tuna with chilliand mint), and a Western dish: cheesy spinach. A cute little plate of complimentary bread and butter came swiftly after the order was placed. Soon after, the main dishes arrived, both in generous portions.
Meat in laab dishes is usually minced, but here the tuna was served in big chunks, a little bit pink and very fresh and tasty. Happily, there was no compromise on the spiciness of the Thai dish, unlike many places serving a mix of cuisines that tend to water things down in an ill-fated attempt to widen their appeal.
The spinach dish alone would have sufficed as it was rich and filling – but we left enough space for a coffee, served, of course, in a beautifully designed ceramic cup and saucer.
Sadly that was all we could manage, but what brought us here in the first place was all the raves we’ve heard from friends about the fish and chips, and roast lamb, the curries, the coffees, and the Sunday brunch sessions with live music.
Prices are reasonable but certainly a notch above ‘local’ rates with most dishes in the 150 to 250 baht range. Seven different white snapper dishes including pla pad kuhn chi (stir-fried whole fish with Thai celery and yellow bean sauce) are 450 baht each. There are coffees, teas, beer and cocktails on offer, and a few smoothies and juices.
Just looking around at the ceramics and eccentric design touches is entertaining enough, but there’s also a pool table as well as a kids’ corner with a small table and a few toys. Children will really love the friendly and open atmosphere here, though it could be a touch worrisome for families with toddlers with all the breakables in easy-to-reach places.
This is a cheerful and charming place with attentive staff – even single diners will not feel (too) lonely. It’s just the getting here is the trouble, but if you’re in the Bang Tao or Surin area and wish to venture off the beach for some good, hearty food and an artsy ambiance, or even an afternoon tea or coffee, then Ceramic Kitchen will not disappoint.
To get there, take Srisoonthorn Road (Route 4025) west from the Heroines’ Monument and drive for about 2.5 kilometres. Look for the small sign for Ceramic Kitchen on the right hand side. It’s set along the road near a small cluster of buildings, mostly furniture shops.
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.
Our top 10 other sights and activities in and around Phuket