Road Trip (P.2): Kaeng Krachan National Park + Chailay Seafood Restaurant at Cha-am
Happy New Year folks and Happy Birthday to me. Yup I’m finally 20 and legal. Can’t believe I’m hitting the big 2 0. This holiday has been amazing. Bangkok has been surprisingly cooler than past winter and for longer too! It was definitely one of the rare holiday treats for any of us, Bangkokians, who are used to the hot and humid climate that marks the beauty of this city. Finally I get to dig out my wool sweater and actually go all out with the fall/winter fashion without feeling the funny glares and raised eyebrows from passerby. Another thing I love about December/January is that my whole family gets to spend the longest time together. I love waking up in the morning knowing that they are downstairs having breakfast or watching T.V and that the house is filled with the warm smell of coffee and with whatever I’m having for breakfast. It’s the best feeling to wake up to. Don’t you agree?Now for part two of my family road trip I’m taking you guys up hill to Kaeng Krachan national park, which stretches from the area of Petchburi province to Prachuap Khiri Khan province, and is currently the largest national park in Thailand. The park is approximately 2,914.70km and is also now being considered as one of UNESCO heritage site. In case you’re wondering how I happen to know all this. Many thanks to the contributors of Wikipedia.com.
I fell asleep the whole drive up to the sightseeing point. When we’ve arrived I’ve noticed that this place is not yet as crowded as many of the other tourist attractions. Yes there are a few tour buses parked along the narrow street, but compared to the Emerald temple in Bangkok or the Jomtien Beach, Kaeng Krachan still seems to be under the tourist’s radar. It seems like you can also do some bird watching around this area since it seems to be the home of many rare species of birds not found anywhere else in Thailand. But for my family trip (with a less adventurous crowd), a couple of snapshots and we were out of there.
Our final stop is at Cha-am beach where we (or rather I) were on our (or my) search for the freshest seafood. As we drove along the Cha-am beach, there were so many seafood restaurants with signs claiming to be the best. But having read so many diverse reviews-both good and bad-about places around the area, I had my doubts. So with the satiation of eight hungry fellow travelers (my parents, grandparents, two of my house maids, the driver and myself) resting upon my shoulders, I felt its my duty to give them not only a full stomach but the satisfaction to their taste buds. In the end I came upon one restaurant on the internet, which offers not only good ambience but the freshest fish, shrimp, and crab as well.
Chailay Seafood Restaurant is not situated at the most accessible location. From the road that runs alongside Cha-am beach, head straight towards Wat Neranchararama, do not enter the temple, keep going straight. You will see so many small seafood restaurants at both sides of the road, but keep going straight until the end of the street. There will be a narrower road and keep going straight until you reach an intersection, turn right and keep going straight and there you will see the restaurant sign “Chailay Seafood (ชายเล ซีฟู้ด)”.
The reviews were right, Chailay Seafood restaurant does have a great view of the beach and the many colorful fisherman boats moored to the dock. It was quite sunny when we arrived, perfect for a tanning session, which was obvious from the many tables of foreigners in their bathing suits, clearly enjoying their meal as well as their rays of sunshine.
We got a table beneath the shades but close enough to bask in the amazing view of the seaside. First, my dad ordered the crabmeat fried rice. Personally I think the cook was being stingy with the crab but made up for it with the rice, which was fragrant and well-cooked. If it weren’t for the scant amount of crab, this fried rice could have been my favorite dish. Next came the stir-fried shrimp and asparagus, the shrimp is big, meaty and very delicious!
One of my favorite dishes is the Thai green papaya salad with horse crab, which has the perfect combination of salty, sweet, sour and a tinge of spiciness. To me, this is a damn good papaya salad. We also ordered the fried oyster omelet. I’ve never before have eaten a bad oyster omelet. This oyster omelet is not bad, but isn’t exactly the best. It’s just that, again, the cook is not being generous with the amount of oyster given. Still, the dish is fried and served with a spicy sauce, so we did finish the whole thing.
Next came the Thai shrimp cakes, which was my dad favorite out of all the dishes. I’ve had better shrimp cakes with crispy outer texture yet firm and soft shrimp on the inside. Chailay Seafood’s shrimp cake is big, crispy but lacks the firmness and tenderness that a good shrimp cake should have. We also order tom yum sea bass, which is very spicy! So if you’re not such a fan of chili, stay clear from this dish. For me I love it! I love the tenderness of the fish and the spicy yet sweet and sour taste of the tom yum soup. The last and final dish of the day is steamed Rainbow fish with soy sauce and assorted mushrooms. I practically ate half of the fish so I’ll let you be the judge of whether I like it or not 😛
Overall, if anyone is ever in Cha-am, I would recommend coming to Chailay Seafood restaurant. Sure it may not be the trendiest place that serves the most delicious seafood in town, but I would go there just for the ambience. You can enjoy cracking crab shells and savoring its sweet meat while breathing in the serene backdrop of the ocean. How awesome is that? After all, not many of us go to the beach for a Michelin star quality meal, right?