One of the healthier aspects of Phuket’s vibrant culinary scene is that it is decentralised. Sure, Patong and Phuket Town are leaders in certain fields, but diners on the island are certainly not under any obligation to head for the bright lights in order to eat well.
No matter where you go in Phuket, neighbourhood eateries abound, from street stall level to fashionable cafes to high-class dining. A good example of this indigenous movement is Rum Jungle, a bistro in Nai Harn, at the foot of the island.
- Phuket FantaSea Cultural Theme Park
- Phi Phi Islands Tour with Express Boat
- James Bond Island Full-Day Tour via Big Boat
- Coral & Racha Islands Full-Day Tour
- Whitewater Rafting & 4-Wheel-Drive Adventure
- Sea Kayaking at Ang Thong Marine Park
- Flying Hanuman Ziplining Experience
- Canoeing Excursion in Phang Nga Bay with Thai Buffet Lunch
- Introduction to City Tour
- John Gray's Cave Canoeing Tour in Phang Nga Bay
It’s no great mystery why the word ‘jungle’ should figure in this restaurant’s moniker as the theme here is decidedly green. There are plenty of exterior and interior plants and rustic touches such as statuettes and rattan-filtered overhead lights.
A green ‘specials’ board hangs over the end of the bar and the bistro features a direct adjoining kitchen. Rum Jungle is small and intimately lit – two factors that can’t help but add up to a better dining experience. There is a TV in the corner but for most diners in this sort of atmosphere it is probably surplus to requirements.
A lot of the area’s professional expatriates wax enthusiastic about Rum Jungle and one gets the definite impression that it is more of a ‘local’ than a tourist restaurant. This factor means that you’re in for an international and somewhat exotic mélange of accents, languages and culture while dining here.
The bistro is never out-and-out too noisy but the prerecorded music which started out as laid-back Brazilian rhythms and melodies, ended up as Techno at the end of the evening, lending a sort of ‘bistrotheque’ impression. Rum Jungle is situated roadside but is elevated and set back enough to overcome this feature.
There is a fair-sized wine list at Rum Jungle and most labels are reasonably priced from 700 to 900 baht. A very decent red or white house wine goes for 90 baht a glass and 300 baht for a half-litre carafe. For vodka martini aficionados, Rum Jungle’s generous version is a must-try.
Chef Toni Bruno is the man to see here. Toni has done culinary stints in Italy, Singapore, Hong Kong and his native Australia and has now been on the Phuket scene for several years. Rum Jungle’s menu changes weekly according to availability and inspiration and perhaps this is one of the reasons why the bistro is so popular.
Toni labels his cuisine ‘Italian-Mediterranean-eclectic’. This is a fair description of what’s on offer; the tuna carpaccio is beautifully prepared, as is the seafood appetizer, with a lovely balance of fruits de mer. Pork filets with capers and chicken breast with eggplant are also well presented and are served with fried potato chunks. The seafood tagliatelle is just bliss on a plate.
All this comes at prices that won’t break the bank so the combination of an intimate and well-appointed bistro along with innovative cuisine at an attractive price is a tempting one.
As Rum Jungle is relatively small, the team of waitresses is never far away. Toni lends a personal touch to the bistro’s service.
Where Is It?
Directly opposite the bright yellow Bank of Ayudhya on Soi Sai Yuan in Nai Harn. If coming from Chalong, turn right for Nai Harn Beach at the 7-Eleven junction, carry on a kilometre and you’ll see Rum Jungle on your left but watch out – you’ll miss it if you’re not concentrating. Coming from Patong/Kata, take a left at the three-road intersection in Nai Harn and Rum Jungle is 300 metres up the road on the right-hand side. Easy to miss but worth it once found. There is parking at the back.
Rum Jungle Cafe
- Address: 69/8 Baan Sai Yuan, Rawai
- Tel: +66 (0) 76 388 153
- Price Range: Affordable