Thai Tam

It is not every day that you can discover a ‘gem’, but this time I have. Over the past six months I have noticed a proliferation of ‘roadside restaurants’ offering hawker food or BBQ chicken, but none had raised themselves above the ordinary.

However, two months ago, a new venture on Chaiyapruek Road, Jomtien stood out immediately, because it was proud enough to have a name! “Thai Tam” began with a little kitchen, and then they added a sit-down eating section, followed by another and then another. The buildings are made out of wood and plaited bamboo, with decking out over the grassland and thatched grass roofs. The whole effect is very attractive, and with the lighting at night, looks very romantic.

It is a family business, having come down from Maha Sarakham. They found Bangkok too crowded (don’t we all), and came to Jomtien to set up their restaurant. And a ‘proper’ restaurant it is. You have a choice of dining at Euro height bamboo tables and chairs, or relaxing on Axe cushions and eating from low bamboo tables in one section.

We decided to go Thai ‘all the way’ and chose the reclining cushions and low tables, and Thai Tam happily supplied a fan and mozzie coils, which kept the squadrons at bay while we perused the menu. This was a very pleasant surprise. It was in English, with Thai subtitles, had 91 items and the top of the first page reads, “The adventure starts here!” It also had no prices, so we just hoped we were not in for a rude shock later! The starters on page 1 include spring rolls and several varieties of tom yum - prawn, fish, chicken and beef.

Page two is headed “Ask for Mild”, so you can ask for the Thai chilli spice to be wound down if you like. This page included many tamarind dishes, salads and soups. Next up was the section called “Prawns and Squid - That’s it!” This included more salads, saut้s, sweet and sour dishes and stir-fries. These are followed by “Thai vegetables - Nowhere better!” which has curries, omelets, tempura items, fried crab claws, noodles and rice dishes, and chicken with basil.

We began with tempura prawns and sun-dried pork, with both appearing on decorative glazed crockery, with small bowls of sauces to go with each. To go with the food we decided on large bottles of Leo (the only one on offer but perfectly pleasant).

We followed with a prawns in garlic and pepper, which was so more-ish we called for a second plate, then a chicken in oyster sauce, which came with a peppery tang, lifting it from the usual bland taste of ‘gai pad num mun hoy’.

Next up we had a large helping of green curry - and it was sweet and green, and finished with a yum woon seen (glass noodles) which was Thai spicy hot for the ladies. There were no dishes we did not enjoy, and the total ambience/food and smiling service made for a memorable evening. We called for the bill and found that our seven excellent dishes, plus rice, two large bottles of beer, two bottles of water and ice, came to a grand total of 545 baht. Definitely a bargain, and no rude shocks.

Thai Tam Restaurant truly is a gem. To find a 91 item menu, in English as well as Thai, in a ‘road side’ restaurant is amazing. To be served the meals on clean glazed crockery instead of the ubiquitous melamine is even more amazing. To find that the food is of excellent quality, just makes it outstanding. Then look at the prices - averaging around B. 50 a dish - and you have one of the best value for money, truly Thai eateries in the area. Take some friends and enjoy a wonderful evening. Best ‘ethnic’ dining experience of the past 12 months! We were also informed that you can get phone orders and local area delivery - but you’ll need to be a Thai speaker!

Thai Tam Restaurant, Chaiyapruek Road (just past Soi 4 and almost opposite Baan Suan Lalana), Jomtien, telephone 06 069 5578 or 09 226 8724, open 10 a.m. till 9 p.m.