Husband here, checking in.
I am here to report on the most important thing to a male traveler. Or really any male.
Thailand happens to be a Mecca of food for me. Thai food is among my favorite food types; pad Thai in particular. “Oh, pad Thai is for the basic, uncultured palate. It’s entry-level Thai food,” you may surmise as you devour your massaman curry with Andaman squid and chili-infused aged mangrove paste with your pinky in the air. That’s ok. If pad Thai is dry, then call me Ben Stein. (Massaman curry is delicious, by the way. The rest I just made up and don’t know if it really exists.)
So here is a breakdown of the Pad Thai in Railay Beach. By the way, I didn’t ALWAYS order Pad Thai. But usually, yes.
Pranang Cuisine – A. The most unique flavor we had in a pad Thai. It was exceptionally bright, featuring a lemony-lime essence that complemented perfectly cooked noodles. Only downside – there was a chicken bone in the meat, as well as some hard unidentified nut-like object within the meal. Oh well. For 70 baht (just over $2) you can’t go wrong. Plus it actually tasted great, so I can overlook some UFOs (unidentified food-like objects).
Mangrove Restaurant – B+. About 80 baht ($2.50). Thick, supple noodles and sizable chunks of chicken please the palate and warm the soul of the pad Thai connoisseur. Very well done. Arranged with a small array of veggies and a side of chopped peanuts and chili powder to spread over your meal.
Wan-A-Rouy – B+. For 70 baht, you can enjoy pad Thai that is cooked a bit more al dente than in other restaurants. This makes Wan-A-Rouy a unique and tasty experience. Plenty of meat is on your plate for just over $2. Fantastic. What’s more, we found the hosts of this family-run restaurant to be accommodating and grateful for our patronage. Only downside – it is next to a shooting range. So sometimes you may hear some idiot backpackers firing off weapons that they are probably not trained to use and that the proprietors are probably not licensed to own (that the Thai government probably isn’t concerned about). I feel bad for the family, they probably lose a lot of business from this. They live above the restaurant, so moving is not as easy as it seems. So go there. And get the fruit shakes and Thai iced coffee – best on the peninsula.
(Update March 1, 2015: Wan-A-Rouy has made it to the #1 spot in Railay on TripAdvisor. Rock on!)
Flametree Restaurant – D+. The Flametree had by far the best location – right by the beach and the crashing waves. It also boasts an outstanding vibe, with great hippie/flower child/beach music playing (Beatles, Marley etc., with about 10 straight Depeche Mode songs randomly appearing as well). However, the pad Thai left much to be desired. Not only was it an outrageous 150 baht ($5 – how could they?) but the few pieces of actual chicken were supplemented with some sketchy quasi-chicken (maybe tofu? Or 5 year old chicken? Or meat from a local fruit bat?) that made up the non-noodle majority of the meal. While the cucumber-dominated greenery was enjoyable and tasty and the noodles were cooked well, the overall experience was tarnished by the unidentified “meat.” So my verdict on Flametree: stop in for a beer and a view, and move on. Or bring your pad Thai from somewhere else and hope they don’t notice.
So there you have it. If you ever find yourself in Railay Beach, stop in for some pad Thai! And remember, if you think that eating pad Thai is boring and entry-level, try eating pad Thai next to a guy shooting off a Glock.
This dude is named Bird. And he makes the best fruit smoothies in Railay.