Comparing the Indian on the Pattaya Darkside with local competition


Your dishes are prepared in the open kitchen area, an important but unusual feature of local Indian restaurants.

The pandemic has certainly reduced the number of Indian restaurants in the Greater Pattaya area. By 2019 the number had grown to over 80 with one or two in South Pattaya catering for 100 plus tourists from the sub-continent. That’s ancient history now. Around two thirds have closed, maybe more, but most of the remainers are good or better. No surprise there.

There are many myths about Indian still common today. The cuisine varies considerably from north to south India and many of the basic ingredients were imported by colonizing Europeans. The chilli, for example, was a Portuguese import and potatoes, tomatoes and peanuts would have remained unknown but for Christopher Columbus and company risking a risky journey to the Americas. Nor is Indian food especially spicy for the most part. Blame that misconception on the heat-loving British who ruled much of India for 200 years and opened the first Indian restaurant in London as early as 1810.

The Inspector had read much about one of the few surviving Indians on the Darkside on social media and decided to pay a visit. Welcome to the Fisherman Cafe overlooking a lake in the Mabprachan area! It’s an unprepossessing and open eating area hosting a children’s playground and offering mostly Indian dishes, although there’s also a pizza and fish finger section if you really must know. However, next door is an adjoining sister restaurant selling Thai and other dishes.

The menu is huge and vegetarians and vegans have a wide choice as they always do in Indian eateries. One of the unique features in Fisherman – surely the only Indian restaurant for hundreds of miles that doesn’t have an Indian-sounding name – is its selection of sauces you can order without meat, fish or vegetables, including Korma, Masala and Rogan Josh. These are handy if you want to choose your own to accompany a dry dish such as a biryani or tandoori.

We found the quality good. On the price front, we’d say slightly higher than average for this type of establishment. Prawn Madras 340 baht, Lamb Vindaloo 290 baht, Vegetable Biryiani 220 baht, Chicken (boneless) Madras 190 baht, Saag Paneer (spinach and cheese) 190 baht. On the alcohol front beers are 65-75 baht and the management is honest enough to tell you that the 130 baht glass of red or white wine is Mont Clair. The ice cream sundaes are not a patch on the nearby Route 66 diner but, then again, they are not in competing markets.

The Fisherman Cafe is the best-known Indian on the Darkside and a near-solo survivor following the tourist collapse.

The letdown at Fisherman is that the staff, though polite, are not able to converse in any detail about the more difficult menu items. Lamb soup sounds interesting but, at a mighty 275 baht, you might want to ask a question or two. Is it a starter or a main course for instance? It’s best here to stick to items you know, or think you do anyway. On the other hand, a delightful feature is the open range kitchen where your food is prepared in full view. The cooks know what they are doing.

It’s a 30 minute drive from central Pattaya to Fisherman, down the whole length of Siam Country Club Road. And yes we would go again, especially now that the gruesome and persistent road repairs near the end have finally been completed. The food is similar in quality to Tarka House in Pattayaland Soi 2 (though the latter is much cheaper) and to Madras Darbar on Second Road (though this one is an alcohol-free zone). The key to Indian food eaten by westerners is to produce a wide variety of flavours backed up by professional use of spices. All three get a pass grade.

For most Indian food lovers, the doyen probably remains Ali Baba in Pattaya’s Central Road which dates back to 1984. It has been reviewed countless times in dozens of media, but no Indian eatery can replace it in the number one spot. The staff can answer your most detailed questions about regional dishes, the surroundings are spot-on and the discounts are more generous than any other eatery we know. The competition is well worth visiting, but the cuisine crown is intact. And likely to remain so.

The Inspector Calls 1: Alibaba Tandoori and Curry Restaurant

The Inspector Calls 2: Siamburi’s international food mart

The Inspector Calls 3: Mr DIY and DVDs galore at Tukcom

The Inspector Calls 4: Pie Culture and Tinnies Gourmet Café

The Inspector Calls 5: Phoning 1337 – Pattaya’s unique call service run by City Hall

The Inspector Calls 6: Pattaya Makro more than a warehouse club for bulk buyers