One of the things I love about living in Bangkok is that it’s super simple for me to get away to the beach whenever I want. Though many like to go to Koh Samui or Phuket, my favorite getaway is to the island of Koh Chang. After a 5 hour drive from Bangkok and 40 minute ferry ride I am surrounded by jungle and pristine beaches. So when my visiting family wanted to spend New Year’s on the beach, you can guess where I’d take them. As they also love seafood, it made sense to take them to my favorite restaurant on Koh Chang, Nong Bua Seafood (official Facebook page).
Every time I visit Koh Chang I always visit Nong Bua Seafood and I’ve never been disappointed with the experience. Their seafood is simply amazing. Additionally, their prices are very reasonable for the quantity and quality of their dishes, and their service is unfailingly great. For me this review was a real treat as I was able to share the experience with family, as well as have an opportunity to speak with the manager about Nong Bua Seafood’s story.
But let’s get straight to the food, shall we?
Nong Bua Seafood has a great selection from the sea!
Of course Nong Bua Seafood has a great selection of seafood. It’s in the name. Directly in front of the restaurant are rows and rows of the day’s catch on ice with price placards. My family and I made sure to load up on their fresh offerings from the sea during our visit–nearly all of our dishes had seafood in it!
Stir Fried Seafood with Chili Paste
I admit this Stir Fried Seafood with Chili Paste (150 baht) looks spicy, and from the name it sounds spicy. But don’t be fooled. It’s not spicy at all. In fact, it’s a little sweet!
This dish has a nice mix of squid, shrimp, and vegetables with a tangy/sweet chili sauce. Everything is cooked perfectly, with the shrimp having a nice crunch and the squid remaining tender. In fact, this was the first time that my sister-in-law had calamari that she liked. It really made an impression on her.
Tom Yum Seafood Soup
I highly recommend this Tom Yum Seafood Soup (180 small/280 large baht) dish. The broth is not overly creamy and it’s loaded with flavor from the seafood, vegetables, and herbs. This is a dish that is easily shared, and will be emptied.
Soft-Shell Crab with Curry Powder
The Soft Shell Crab with Curry Powder (250 baht) is one of my favorite dishes, and I highly recommend it if you visit Nong Bua Seafood. I don’t know how they do it, but their crab has a smoky flavor and the curry sauce is both rich and creamy. This is one of those dishes where you will find yourself shamelessly scraping the plate. It’s okay. I will not judge you.
BBQ King River Prawns
This is my gal’s favorite dish, and no visit to Nong Bua Seafood would be complete without ordering the BBQ River Prawns (Market Price/Kilo). It’s prepared simple–no chunks of garlic or globs of fake butter that other restaurants tend to subject their prawns to. This is just split river prawns on the barbecue until cooked accompanied with a fiery seafood sauce to dip the meat into. It’s delicious!
Fresh from tank, to kitchen, to table!
For our main dish we had the fresh Fried Grouper with Sweet Chili Sauce (Market Price/Kilo). This fish was obviously not thrilled to be leaving the tank to what would be its final destination–our table (with a stop in the kitchen, of course).
The skin of the Fried Grouper with Chili Sauce was nice and crispy while the meat underneath was flaky and tender. My gal has a gift for getting the meat off the bones whilst I have a gift for being able to make a mess of the whole thing. It’s not long until I am no longer allowed to try and serve myself.
Rice dishes to accompany…
We were a bit “noodled” out from all of the noodle dishes we’d had earlier so we decided to get a couple of rice dishes to accompany the meal.
We received their popular Pineapple Fried Rice (150 baht) dish which is an entire pineapple hollowed out and filled with fried rice, raisins, pineapple chunks, and cashew nuts. This is an excellent dish accompanied with the BBQ river prawns!
The other rice side dish we got was the Tom Yum Fried Rice with Chicken (80 baht). It was tasty but it didn’t quite fit with the other dishes that we got. It’s very flavorful, but it needs something like grilled meat to accompany it. It didn’t quite work with the selection of seafood dishes that we had with it. But I would order it again if the meal had had more grilled meats and vegetables.
A chat with the manager…
I was fortunate enough to be able to coordinate my visit with Khun Pao, the Nong Bua Seafood Restaurant manager for their White Sands Beach location on Koh Chang. She was kind enough to give me a little insight into their restaurant as well as introduce the owner, Khun Art.
“Nong Bua” actually means “Lotus Swamp“. It takes the name of the village from Trat province which is where the family who owns and operates the restaurant is originally from.
The first Nong Bua restaurant began in 1980 in Trad. It’s still around today (official website), but don’t expect to find seafood there. Rather this original restaurant specializes in noodles and local dishes.
Based on the success of their restaurant, and after having over 20 years of experience operating it, they decided to branch out to Koh Chang. In 2001, Nong Bua Seafood opened its doors to the public and was focused on delivering fresh, delicious seafood dishes.
Nong Bua Seafood receives their fresh seafood daily and direct from the fishermen who catch them around the Salak Khok Bay on the eastern side of Koh Chang island. Nothing is frozen and it’s guaranteed fresh. The freshness of their seafood combined with the 37 years of experience guarantees you won’t be disappointed with the meal or their service!
If you spend enough time on Koh Chang you’re going to start to get annoyed when another waiter forgets to bring your order or saves that starter for last. Or the staff simply disappear when you want to get a menu, bill, or fresh beer. I’m not suggesting all places are like this–but this kind of experience isn’t unusual. It’s not you. One of the things that sets Nong Bua Seafood apart from many of its peers is its excellent customer service.
If you want guaranteed great service go to this restaurant. They operate like a well oiled machine. The whole process is efficient, accurate, and timely. You will appreciate their service especially if you’ve been hurt before at other places!
I’m hungry! Where is it?
We visited the Nong Bua Seafood restaurant located at White Sands Beach. Their operating hours are from 7am-10pm Monday through Sunday, their prices are NET, and they can accommodate 100 guests.
If you find yourself staying further down the island not close to White Sands Beach, don’t despair! In 2014 they opened a larger Nong Bua Seafood restaurant in Klong Prao Beach with seating for 300 guests (including outside garden seating). They have the same menu and the same prices! Since it’s also run by the same family, I assume they also have great customer service, too.
Should you find yourself spending some time on the island of Koh Chang, and you’re a lover of fresh seafood, I hope you’ll visit Nong Bua Seafood. I’d also love to hear your feedback if you do!