Phuket Food: Chalong’s Rimtang

PHUKET: The first thing you notice when walking into Rimtang@Chalong, Phuket, is its smart ambiance. Past the intricately carved wooden door, is a light and airy space, tastefully decorated with Thai objet d’art and minimalist furniture.

Tall glass windows invite in the surrounding flower garden and the tantalizing views of Wat Chalong beyond.

Talking to the staff, we learn that Rimtang started life some fifteen years ago as a humble roadside shack, whose modest menu included only a few local dishes. However, it was famous for serving the best chao kuey in town. This popular black jelly in iced syrup soon became Rimtang’s signature dessert.

Having expanded and opened their first restaurant on Tungka Road, Rimtang, has carved out a niche that combines an eatery serving tasty food and, to cater to Thai tourists, a shop that stocks the local produce Phuket is famous for – dried fish, curry paste, and of course the famous black jelly.

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Its latest branch Rimtang@Chalong, opened two years ago, and has kept its tradition in tact by dedicating one large area of space at the back to stocking these dried delicacies.

The eating areas are sectioned into three zones: an air-conditioned indoor-space, serving lunch; an outdoor café area with over-sized rattan chairs and its own coffee bar, and a charming balcony dining area surrounded by a lush garden and overlooking a lagoon.

For a quick lunch, there’s no better place to be than close to the fast-food counter that runs the length of the indoor space.

Don’t let this canteen-styled setting put you off, the food laid out behind it – although a common fare – is of fresh and good quality. You can choose from various curries and stir-fries, but there’s also a noodle bar where you can order soups or fried noodles, which are freshly made for you.

Moving along the counter there’s a som tum bar where papaya salad with soft-shell crabs can be rustled up exactly to your liking. For example, we like it medium hot, without peanuts and with plenty of crabs.

Don’t like pre-made food? No problem. Rimtang’s menu offers many local delicacies: Malaysian-styled kari mai fan (chicken curry with tofu); or the creamy and sweet curry with crab meat, both accompanied with fine rice noodles; noodle soup with pork ribs; mee hokkian (famous Phuket stir-fried yellow noodles) and an assortment of meats and seafoods.

Of course, to end the meal and cleanse the palate, you must try the stuff that made Rimtang famous: its refreshing health-giving black jelly in iced syrup. There are also a few other iced desserts – our favorite being the multi-grain cereal in coconut milk. But Rimtang also serves a very good crème brûlée.

Rimtang’s location opposite the side gate of Wat Chalong means that any overindulgence can be walked off as you stroll over to the temple grounds to enjoy the beautiful architecture. Rimtang@Chalong is a favorite luncheon spot for many local Thais and Koreans, but the assistant manager notes that expats tend to come in the evening when the indoor section is closed and life continues on outside at the balcony.

The dinner menu features many delectable seafood dishes such as tamarind prawns, fish cooked in many different styles and sauces. Our favorite is fried whole fish served with green mango salad. Try also the yam apple or apple salad, which combines apple slivers with plenty of sliced lemon grass (a great combination), shallots and cashew nuts in a dressing of lime, fish sauce and mint.

For quality food and super ambiance, Rimtang@Chalong is definitely unbeatable. What’s more, is that the price is quite reasonable too.

Open: 8:30am to 11pm daily Location: Soi Luang Por Cham (the road beside Wat Chalong that runs between Chao Fah East and West) Tel: 076 374911, 089 7305388.

— Nanthapa Pengkasem

Thai Life

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