It’s difficult to suss out which restaurants actual serve up the real deal authentic Thai food when staying in a resort town in Phuket. But Kata B-B-Q, situated right on Kata beach, is one of Kata’s rare gems where you can eat fresh seafood cooked by great local chefs to authentic Thai recipes. They don’t dull down the spice and sweeten dishes to “suit foreign tastebuds” (who was is that decided Westerners can’t handle the heat and like all their food slathered in a sticky flavourless goop?!)
My family and I stumbled upon Kata B-B-Q by a happy mistake while wandering towards the beach. The colourful and aromatic dishes being eaten by other diners were too much to resist. Fresh seafood right on the beach, what could be better? After a sticky walk up and down the hills of Phuket’s coast, we were in great need of rehydration and the fresh fruit ices would be just the trick. Each opting for a different flavour, from papaya and watermelon to zesty lemon and even banana, they were polished off within minutes – all the better as the heat had already started to melt the ice in the time it took the waitress to walk them to our table.
Kata B-B-Q’s menu is possibly the largest menu I’ve even been faced with. An extensive list of dishes usually rings alarm bells, meaning that chefs are bundling out substandard pre-made food that’s quantity over quality. But when you dissect the menu, it’s actually not as complicated as it seems. There are a handful of sauces which are repeated using different seafood, fish and meats, a selection of fried rices and noodles to accompany these, then the BBQ section which comprises freshly caught fish, simply grilled and brushed with spices, or basted in a fragrant broth.
The strangling humidity had banished my usual carb carb cravings so we ordered just a few plates of plain steamed rice to share – necessary to soak up any sauces – then shared a selection of dishes.
There were two star dishes of the night: a prawn Penang curry: plump prawns sat in a silky smooth sauce, richly flavoured with creamy coconut, red curry paste and just a hint of sweet spice. The curry is served with slices of cucumber and raw green beans and green cabbage which taste divine dipped in the creamy sauce -a great carb-free addition to all of us trying to keep our bikini bodies in check while enjoying all the food here. Who needs rice?! And a steamed whole sea bass: delicate flakes of white meat in a light and fragrant lemongrass broth.
A lightly fried seafood and asparagus dish was also excellent. The sauce was well balanced, keeping harmony between the sweet, the sour and the salty. The asparagus and carrot kept its crunch while the squid, prawns and mussels brought the flavour of the sea.
We also ordered a papaya salad; one of my favourite Thai dishes. Be wary of the spice here – I can handle the heat but even the medium spice version set my mouth was on fire! Maybe eat around the generous sprinkling of fiery green chillies if you’re not so keen on heat. However the spice didn’t kill all tastebuds – the crunchy colourful dish was beautifully flavoured, again with the harmonious balance of sweet, sour, spice and salt for which Thai food is so famous. It makes a great palette cleanser between dishes.
The green curry soup here is also a great choice. Your choice of meat or fish comes in a light coconut-curry broth, accompanied by plenty of al dente veg, tasty pea aubergines and a generous garnish of my favourite herb – or one of them – coriander.
The only dish to disappoint was the mussels, which were rather cold upon arrival, despite having a good flavour.
Kata Beach, Kata, Phuket, Thailand
Open daily until late