Before checking into our resort on our first day in Phuket, we made one last foodie stop. That stop is none other than Tunk-ka Cafe, a hilltop restaurant famous not just for its food but also for its wonderful setting and gorgeous food.
Tunk-ka Cafe sits on a cliffside on Rang Hill, one of the most scenic neighborhoods of Phuket and located just outside Phuket Old Town. From the restaurant, you can enjoy 270-degree views of the island, of Andaman Sea, and the Indian Ocean beyond. The forest surrounding the restaurant definitely adds to its charm. The cafe takes advantage of the beauty surrounding it by setting up tables on viewing decks, where guests can dine al fresco.
Tunk-ka Cafe is the product of an adventurous mind
On the day of our visit, we were so lucky to meet P’May, the owner of Tunk-ka Cafe. The restaurant is a family business that she, in turn, inherited from her father. From the way she spoke, you can easily tell that she loves her work and is passionate about feeding souls.
P’May told us the story of how the cafe started. She said her father was an adventurer who drove around the countryside on his motorbike. In the 1970s, when Rang Hill was just a forested hill with only a dirt road, her father rode his bike up the hill with his girlfriend (who isn’t P’May’s mother). Upon seeing the view from the top, he had this vision of opening a restaurant where people can dine while enjoying the scenery. In 1973, P’May’s father rented the land from the Phuket local government and started his restaurant, initially serving just coffee and other drinks and snacks.
The little cafe grew over the years. P’May shared her fond memories of hanging out at the restaurant after school, waiting for her parents to finish working there, and then going home with them. She’s proud that she has kept the family business going after almost 50 years.
Serving southern Thai cuisine with Southern Thai hospitality
Tunk-ka Cafe specializes in Southern Thai cuisine that’s dripping with warm and generous Southern Thai hospitality.
Southern Thai cuisine is up there on the spice level, and P’May confirms this. Although the staff served us a lot of food, it turned out that we barely touched what’s offered on the cafe’s menu. The dishes we enjoyed were toned down in terms of spice to accommodate the Soul Foodies dining with me, most of whom are first-time visitors to Thailand.
Well, spicy or not, everything was so, so good. We had:
- Crab meat and herb “bai chaploo” in coconut milk curry
- Smoke-dried shrimp with spicy shrimp paste dip and served with fresh vegetables
- Boiled fish balls served with lemon and chili sauce
- Stir-fried prawn with lemongrass, cumin, and chili in coconut milk
- Local Phuket fried noodles with seafood
- Grilled chicken satay with peanut sauce
- Deep-fried prawn topped with sweet-and-sour vegetable sauce
- “Pak Miang,” which is a local vegetable, and shrimp in coconut soup
You really, really must eat at Tunk-ka Cafe when you visit Phuket. Your holiday won’t be complete without the experience.
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