Given the number of restaurants that specialise in international cuisine in Phuket, many visitors could be forgiven for overlooking Thai food and missing out on a key part of the ‘Thai’ experience.
While many Thai restaurants have been established aimed at capturing the tourist market – think Silk at Andara or Saffron at Banyan Tree – Raya in Phuket Town is the real deal and is popular with locals and expats alike.
Found on New Dibuk Road in a former Sino-Portuguese shophouse, Raya embodies the old colonial heritage of Phuket in its decor and ambience, accompanied by a soundtrack of orchestral numbers and piano solos.
Owner Khun Kulab has trained a number of high profile chefs on the island and her signature dishes – crabmeat curry with rice vermicelli, caramelized braised belly pork and Phuket prawns – have attracted Thailand’s A-list including Prime Ministers, royalty and movie stars.
Despite high quality food, a tremendous setting and obvious ‘star’ draw factor, prices at Raya remain surprisingly low; definitely one to experience.
The charm of Phuket Town's old quarter is nowhere more evident than in its Sino-Portuguese architecture. Along Dibuk, Thalang and Phang Nga roads downtown you'll see beautiful examples of restored shophouses and a good example of this genre is Raya Restaurant. Raya, not to put a too fine point on it, is the Thai restaurant in Phuket.
Sure there are other overpriced and clumsily themed contenders but Raya alone caters for locals with the tourist market almost as an afterthought – which is why it is so genuinely Thai.