Going Native – Joining the locals at Ranong Restaurant 2

Ranong Restaurant

Some restaurants are hard to find, almost camouflaged it would seem, but Ranong Restaurant 2 stands out prominently against its urban background. It has to, as it’s on a busy stretch of the ring-road in Chaweng, and would be all too easy to drive past without seeing it. But as you’re about to draw level with Tesco Lotus, if you’re heading towards Bophut, you’ll see a very bright yellow, open-sided building. This is Ranong Restaurant 2, recently refurbished, and again welcoming its many guests. It’s a highly popular place, and most people, once they’ve eaten here once, will want to come again.

Ranong RestaurantThe hours may strike you as unusual. It’s open from 4:00 pm until 3:00 am (and is closed for four days at some point during the month), making this one of the main restaurants to come to if it’s the middle of the night. It’s simple and convivial, but the food’s excellent. It’s very popular with workers who are finishing shifts at midnight, as well as groups of party-goers who come to fill up on food after an evening of fun. Plenty of holidaymakers come too, as well as people simply dropping in for take-out. Parking’s no problem late at night, as other shops are all closed and it’s easy to park on the street. Earlier on, there’s Tesco-Lotus just a hundred or so metres up the road, offering free parking space.

Ranong RestaurantWhen you arrive you’ll be given a longish menu which will take a while to browse; it’s filled with favourites. Astonishingly, there are more than a hundred. Some visitors, however, are simply too ravenous to browse the pages, and instead you’ll see them staring up at the walls – here there are large photos of over 40 different dishes with names in Thai, English and Chinese. The restaurant specializes in traditional Thai food and seafood. There’s no international food by the way, but with so much on offer, you’re bound to find at least a half dozen dishes of interest.

Ranong RestaurantPortions are incidentally on the large side, so don’t make the mistake of over-ordering. You can always call your waiter or waitress over and order more. Staff speak English and even Chinese, so there’s no difficulty with being understood. The menu is clearly written in English, too, and with plenty photos of the food.

Ranong Restaurant 2 is the brainchild of Khun Paisarn Rawangpai, a former chief-engineer turned chef. The restaurant’s named after the town he came from. He moved to Samui to work in the hotel industry, but after a while decided he wanted to open up his own business. He started a restaurant on the lake road near Central Festival, also called Ranong Restaurant. The second, that we’re featuring here, is run along the same lines, and has been open now for seven years. Word-of-mouth down has kept both restaurants thriving since they opened their doors.

Ranong RestaurantThanks to local fish markets, there’s a big accent on seafood of all kinds – and you can be sure it’s totally fresh. Specials abound, like the deep fried prawn, or deep fried whole fish in sweet and sour sauce, or the yummy mackerel in garlic and
pepper. There are all manner of soups, such as red curry with pork spare ribs, or seafood, or chicken with coconut milk. Then you’ll find a whole range of treats such as tom yum goong, Thai omelette with minced prawn or with sweet basil leaves, fried chicken with ginger, crispy pork with oyster sauce and massaman curries. You’ll also find salads, starters and dishes that come from all over the country. Let your waiter or waitress know the degree of spiciness you’d like if choosing a hot dish.

Ranong RestaurantDishes start from 60 baht, and everything on offer is great value. Customers obviously like the prices and they know that they’ll leave feeling satisfied. Presentation, you might think would fall by the wayside, but this isn’t true. Many of the dishes come with hand-carved vegetables and everything looks as good as it tastes.

Ranong Restaurant 2 has a great name for dependable, delicious food. The prominently positioned restaurant is a powerhouse when it comes to feeding the hungry through the evening and night – check out the delicious, low-priced
dishes in a highly convivial setting.

Dimitri Waring