If there were an island-wide competition for rustic, unusual and out-of-the-way restaurants then Mor Mu Dong seafood restaurant in east Phuket would definitely win it.
Set up next to a ‘klong’, a brackish watery inlet from the sea 100 metres away and in a mangrove swamp, Mor Mu Dong is a warren of ‘salas’ – bamboo huts – where diners can sit on mats and eat off low tables as well as at standard tables and chairs.
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From the outside, Mor Mu Dong looks more like a garden centre than a restaurant. Potted plants are stacked up by the main entrance, hanging vines dangle over the pond by the car park, tropical almonds flourish while mango trees and palms waft in the afternoon breezes. Inside, it’s more of the same with leafy greenery everywhere.
The fan-cooled salas are discreetly located throughout the large restaurant area, each a little world of its own and each with river views. Choose a sala that meets your size requirements – they can hold up to 10 diners yet several are intimate enough for a romantic meal for two.
Mor Mu Dong may be one of the calmest spots in Phuket but it is also very popular and the wonder of it all is how it manages to keep so peaceful when frequented by so many diners. And it’s not just the ‘secretness’ of the place that attracts so many; the food here is a star, too. Essentially a seafood outlet, Mor Mu Dong also serves a full raft of chicken dishes and a delicious pork dish with kruang nam prik – a fiery chilli sauce.
French food enthusiasts will be charmed to learn that there’s a frog selection but it’s definitely seafood that dominates the menu. Pla pao is a whole fish stuffed with kaffir leaves and lemongrass then crusted with salt and grilled wrapped in banana leaves. The resulting texture is out of this world and the last word in tenderness. There’s even a separate perch fish section in which perch sushi figures. Freshwater eels, shrimps, catfish, jackfish, squids, crabs, oysters, cockles, water snails, fish head soup and much more are served with panache here at Mor Mu Dong.
You’ll find no wine list here but there’s plenty of ice-cold beer, local and foreign liquors and delicious iced tea and coffee to wash these delicacies down.
This is as far off the touristic beaten path as you can get without actually getting swallowed up in the jungle and the traditional cooking methods used here also doubly ensure a genuine ‘real’ Phuket experience. Still, just like most unadulterated and pure experiences, Mor Mu Dong is relatively hard to find.
The first step is easy: head down to Soi Palai on Phuket’s east coast between Chalong and Phuket Town. Pass the well-marked Phuket Zoo and turn left down the last road before Palai Seafood on the beach. Pass the many seafood restaurant signs on the right until you arrive at the blue ‘Luk Lay’ restaurant sign. Continue straight on until you come to a lane heading right. Turn in here and you’re there.
Mor Mu Dong does not have an English-language sign but you’ll know that you’re there when you see the colourful toilets and ample car park.
Mor Mu Dong Restaurant
- Opening Hours: Daily from 10:00 – 21:30
- Location: Soi Palai (way past Phuket Zoo)
- Tel: +66 (0)76 282 302