Krua Nakhon is a great restaurant for breakfast and lunch in Nakhon Si Thammarat.
Note: In our visit in February 2012 we found that Krua Nakhon has closed down and re-opened with an expanded menu in a new location near the Provincial Court in Nakhon Si Thammarat under the name วังเดิม – Wang Derm. See our blog Wang Derm Restaurant (formerly Krua Nakhon).
Over the years we’ve visited this city in the South of Thailand many times. We go there on Kasma’s trip of southern Thailand and it’s also one of the places where we like to travel on our own. I like it because of the way the city feels – the people are friendly and it’s a colorful, interesting place. In addition to the main temple, Wat Phra Mahatat, with it’s soaring main chedi (stupa) and interesting Buddha statues, there’s a lively Sunday open-air market, a fun night market and places to purchase southern crafts such as yin lipao baskets and shadow puppets. Kasma’s driver, Sun, lives down here and we also get to visit his family compound, where he lives with 6 of his other 7 siblings.
(Click on an image to see a larger version.)
We always stay at the Nakhon Garden Inn, a reasonably priced, comfortable hotel, which even has free wi-fi. In the morning we invariably walk a few blocks over to the courtyard containing Bovorn Bazaar on Ratchadamnoen Road at the Thawang Intersection, a few blocks from the Train station; there we breakfast at the restaurant Krua Nakhon, meaning Nakhon Kitchen. The word nakhon means city, and cities such as Nakhon Si Thammarat are often referred to simply as Nakhon.
The restaurant is open daily from 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., so it’s a breakfast and lunch place. It is an attractive sitting area, open on three sides and all times. On the wall behind the counter is a collection of antique coconut graters. Food is served cafeteria-style – you go up to the counter and pick out what looks good to you, order, and the friendly staff will bring your selection to the table.
Close by is a place to get coffee or tea – Hao Coffee. You can order it at Krua Nakhon and they’ll go place the order for you; or you can go to Hao Coffee yourself and see what looks best. Once you order, they’ll deliver it over to Krua Nakhon for you. We recommend the “Blue Mountain” coffee. In Thailand, Blue Mountain refers to a type of roast or blend, and not coffee from Jamaica. It’s quite tasty.
When you sit down at the table there will either be a large platter of fresh vegetables and pickles, or the staff will bring one over to you. This is something that you see throughout Southern Thailand. They are eaten as an accompaniment to the meal. They can be used to help cut the heat of a particularly spicy dish.
Krua Nakhon specializes, not surprisingly for a southern Thai restaurant, in southern Thai dishes. One of my favorite dishes there is the Rice Salad, the Kao Yam Bpak Dtai. When Kasma teaches this dish, in her evening Advanced Series Set E (class 2), she teaches it as Southern-Style Rice Salad with Assorted Vegetables and Aromatic Herbs, Toasted Coconut and Boodoo Dressing.
It’s an attractive dish, a bit like a composed salad. The rice is in the middle surrounded various other ingredients, such as lemon grass, dried shrimp, shredded coconut, bean sprouts, shredded greens and a dish of boodoo sauce). You mix everything together, squeeze some lime on top and enjoy, eating it along with the scrumptious fresh vegetable and pickle platter that is on every table.
You can also get kanom jeen, fermented rice noodles served with the topping of your choice. These noodles are the only noodles that originated in Thailand; the other types are Chinese in origin. Kanom jeen are served all over Thailand but in the south there’s a couple toppings that are very popular. The topping shown in the picture above is spicy fish Nahmyah curry sauce. It’s also good with green curry on top.
In addition, there are always a number of other dishes. You can choose to have them served over rice or over the kanom jeen noodles.
Be sure to get a dessert. Check the counter for what they have that day. They usually have several options of different items in coconut milk, such as the picture here. These coconut-based dishes are especially good if you’ve just eaten something very spicy – the coconut will cool down your taste buds.
Written by Michael Babcock, July 2009.