Many visitors to Thailand already know of the excellent dinner cruises up and down the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, while lunch served aboard cruises to Phang Nga Bay is also a popular option. Less well known is the cluster of floating seafood restaurants (‘krachang’ in Thai) just off Koh Maphrow, a small island due east of Laem Hin pier, about two kilometres north of Phuket Town. Black Crab is one of these restaurants.
Owned and run by a Thai/American partnership, on the surface it’s a simple affair with a wood-and-thatch theme, plastic chairs in the central part and wooden benches ‘outside’ in wind-cooled salas or gazebos but it’s here that you can get some of the freshest seafood in Phuket.
Where Is It?
Take the turning to Laem Hin (Rocky Cape) off Thepkasatri Road, the main Phuket Town-airport thoroughfare just north of Phuket Centre. When you arrive at the cape keep going past the large seafood restaurant on your left and follow the dirt track to the small pier next to the furthest parking area.
If you’re feeling lost ask for ‘Poo Dam’ (Black Crab) and the locals will direct you to the pier where a free long-tail boat is waiting. Don’t be afraid to repeat ‘Poo Dam’ to the boat driver on the two-minute shuffle as sometimes he will accidently-on-purpose take you elsewhere. The restaurant has an easily recognisable black crab logo.
Black Crab is not exactly the sharpest knife in the décor drawer with its plain planked floors, plastic chairs and stapled-on plastic tablecloths. And, apart from a few hanging orchids and potted plants there are no superfluous decorations here. Still, the views out over other floating restaurants and floating fishing huts are interesting.
Put simply, it’s all about fresh seafood here, so there are no clusters of empty Chianti bottles hanging from the ceiling, no Andy Warhol copies, no faux-Grecian columns – just tables and seating, both inside and at individual wood-and-thatch salas.
Just about as laid back as can be. The restaurant is breeze-cooled and has no prerecorded music so the only percussion you’ll hear is the slap of feet on the planked flooring and the only vocals the dulcet tones of the wait staff. It actually makes for a nice change and when the sea breezes get up the Black Crab creaks, moans, whistles and strains like a Spanish galleon.
Large groups of diners can sometimes result in a busy feel to the place but then again you can always sit in one of the outside salas if you wish to avoid a crowd. There is also a noticeable lack of dress code so ‘come as you are’… within reason, that is.
You'll find Australian and Chilean Chardonnay and Merlot sold by the bottle at Black Crab. Several big-name beers are served along with soft drinks and this is certainly preferable if dining during the day.
Black Crab takes delivery of living fish and seafood every two weeks and replenishes regularly so everything is as fresh as the day’s catch. To be able to choose your own fish while it is still living is somewhat eerie but the freshness that results is discernible and even startling. Baked mussels in basil are a worthy appetiser while the clams in curry sauce are worth the trip alone. All food is served with steamed rice and you can also order a fried rice seafood dish.
Steamed white snapper in a light lemon sauce with chili garnishing is truly delicious and typical of the largely Thai-style presentation at Black Crab. Of course the restaurant has many more options but the real beauty of the food here is that it can’t come any fresher and that no compromise is made in food storage. Just don’t go ordering French fries, though…
Black Crab’s wait staff is made up of local, cheerful long-term employees who really are the oil in the restaurant’s motor.
Black Crab Floating Restaurant
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 22:00 Daily
- Location: Laem Hin
- Tel: 081 2716175
- Price Range: Pricey