Tamachart Restaurant in Phuket Town has got to be the most unusual, out-of-the-ordinary eatery this side of Phuket. It’s been going for what seems like forever now and is a tremendously popular spot for expats and locals alike as well as being a welcome oddity for visitors.
The word ‘tamachart’ translates into English as ‘natural’ and many people in Phuket use the English word when discussing this unusually fitted out Thai-Chinese eating place.
Where Is It?
On Soi Phutorn in Phuket City. This is the soi that branches off Ranong Rd. where Phuket’s fresh day market is located. Take a right at the Jui Tui Chinese Temple.
It’s a one-way street and Tamachart is 300 metres down on the left-hand side. Most tuk tuk/taxi drivers will know the restaurant’s name as will locals if you ask for directions.
Oh boy, where do I start? Tamachart is a veritable crazy house filled to the rafters with old valve radios, sculpted masks, seashell lamps, hanging plants, fish tanks made out of TV’s and computer monitors (complete with keyboards), dolls, and a fully working electric train set, if you please. Everything is bunged in here in a mish-mash of traditional Thai décor alongside the inventive, unusual and plain wacky.
There are four dining rooms on different floors, each connected by wooden stairs. The wait staff must be superbly fit and supple to get around this place on a daily basis.
Eclectic and unique. It seems incongruous to keep a straight face in this place but somehow people around us managed to do so the evening we dined there. In spite of the crazy décor Tamachart actually takes its food seriously and the clientele (roughly 70% foreign to 30% Thai) appreciate the huge menu and the eatery’s culinary élan.
There is an air-conditioned and brightly lit ‘VIP’ room downstairs but you’ll probably miss out on all the fun if you eat there. The lighting is kept low and – combined with the dark wooden walls and tables – Tamachart manages to be quite intimate. In spite of the loud, tacky, ersatz, plastic, diluted, half-hearted and thoroughly disagreeable background music, this place actually works.
Not a lot. A Californian red for 590 baht and an extremely agreeable Chilean Gato Negro red and white for 750 baht. House wine goes for 120 baht a glass and is basic Italian red or white. Most people take beer with their meal here.
“I’ve always said that I would never eat at a restaurant that had a photo menu,” commented my dining partner, “but now I’m beginning to wonder.” In other words, get over the laminated and somewhat garish menu and get stuck into some excellent food. After all, there are 200 + dishes to choose from at Tamachart so you’ll not be wanting for choice.
A word to weight watchers: remember that this is in Chinatown so unless you order one of the many fresh seafood dishes you can pretty much count on deep-fried fare. Nevertheless, the crispy shrimp pancake with plum sauce dip was welcome as an appetizer. Stuffed potato with dry chicken curry was also successful but a little greasy. Fresh oyster with assorted condiments is recommendable, as is the restaurant’s steamed sea bass in lemon sauce.
We could have gone on ordering all night but stomach restrictions stopped us from doing so. To sum up, let’s paraphrase the old chestnut: ‘You don’t have to be crazy to eat here, but it helps’.
Pretty and agreeable waitresses, extremely polite waiters. The service, along with many other aspects of Tamachart, packs a surprise – a very pleasant one.
- Opening Hours: Daily from 10.30 - 23.30
- Location: 62/5 Soi Phutorn, Phuket Town
- Tel: +66 (0)7 621 4037