Having a long vacation on Phuket Island and bored of the normal hotel food or even the restaurant food? Take a cruise around Phuket Town or even some of the places near the hotels and look for a restaurant that mentions the name “MooKata”. If you are not sure, ask a local where you can find one!
Well, strange as the name may sound a direct translation into English would mean “Pig in a Pan”. In Thailand, “moo” means a pig. But no, you do not actually have a so called pig floating in a pan. It actually means an all out “eat as much as you can” buffet. Well you can kind of say that it is similar to pigging out! This is actually a self serve type restaurant, where the technique of cooking is a bronze or steel pan with a bowl in the center for a soup base.
You are required to help yourself to the ingredients displayed by the rows and cook it yourself. The pan is normally placed over a hot stove of charcoal or a mini gas stove. They will also provide you with a large dollop of lard to oil the pan as it heats up. So much for the cholesterol watch! It is a sort of barbeque and steamboat all rolled into one. You can choose from two flavors of soup for the steam boat, either a plain chicken broth or he typical Thai Tom Yum flavor.
The buffet table offers a variety of raw ingredients for your cooking experience ala self service! Select from rows of fresh fish, squids, clams, crabs, pork, chicken, beef, lamb, fresh vegetables, starters and even desserts. In a typical MooKata restaurant, there are no less than 50 varieties of cooking ingredients offered. So it is eat as much as you can, but please don’t waste! You could be charged for leftovers.
To spot such a restaurant is easy, follow the smell of barbequed meat along the rows of restaurants. It is the most lively and noisy place you can find! The location is mostly outdoor and on weekends you can be sure that it is going to be packed. It is actually a Thai favorite to hang out and eat at a MooKata restaurant. Best is to go early and get a place to sit, otherwise you just might have to join the queue and have a lesser variety of food to choose from. People can take ages to eat here! A consolation is that most of these places do open till mid-night but the refill of food ingredients is much slower and less.
The average price starts from THB190 per person, you are charged extra for drinks and maybe wastage if you have too much leftovers. This is much better than your average hotel barbeque cook out and it is a very local scene. Beer goes great with such a cook-out and they serve it by the large canisters.
So when in Phuket, do what the locals do .. go try a MooKata Restaurant! Not only can you eat and drink till your heart’s content for a really cheap price but you also come out sweaty and smelling like your cooking! It is really worth the travel experience and do not be surprised if you find yourself coming back for more!