Eat & Drink, Leo

KP Gems with Leo - Baan Boontom Somtum and Gallery

31 Aug
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Many people have told us about this place, even Phanganist’s big boss Sharon has been mentioning over the last few months as one of the best places on Koh Phangan to get Thai food so we thought it was time we went to check it out.

Along with Leo Beer we headed down to Baan Boontom in Thong Sala, take the right after Tesco and you’ll spot the wooden building on your right.

The restaurant has a lovely story and was opened around 8 years ago by K.Jorn, we sat down with him to get the history of this unique place;

Born in Chumphon, where his Father was from he would go to and from both there and Koh Phangan where his Mother called home.

On growing up on the island K.Jorn recalls that “Money wasn’t an issue”, he grew up by the beach where they would go to catch fish. Thong Sala did not have a pier but just a small walkway and they would also go there to catch fish.

Circa 1987 K.Jorn left Koh Phangan for Bangkok at the age of 20, he returned for good 20 years later.

“It was all jungle when I left and when I came back there were roads and open spaces ready to be developed”.

K.Jorn’s intention was not to set up a restaurant at first, he was selling paintings at the time, beautiful watercolours which you can see hung on the walls at Baan Boontom.

Once he did get the idea for it he still had no money but he managed to find all of the wood to create the restaurant instead of buying it. Helping his friend in construction helped with this, there were leftover pieces which if he liked he would take and use.

“I like to keep the pieces the same, not to paint or cut them, everything here is not changed”.

Baan Boontom Restaurant is named after K.Jorn’s Wife, he suggested it and Boontom is also an unusual name in Thailand so he thought it would be nice.

As you look around you will notice certain things related to music, records in a cabinet, a stereo and gramophone up on the door used as a large shelf and this is because K.Jorn is a huge music fan.

“I love to listen to music and I even rent a room next door to store my vinyl records”.

He owns over 600 records from artists such as Elvis, The Beatles and all kinds of old music that he first began collecting in Bangkok. Back then the records were 20 - 30 Baht but now maybe they can reach 100,000!

Baan Boontom is known for its Isaan style food and this is because K.Jorn’s Wife is from the area. At first they were making very real authentic Isaan food but they had to change it a little for the people from the South to be able to eat it. Real Isaan food is too spicy, too smelly and sometimes too raw for the Southern Thai palate. They changed it to be slightly less, less bold flavours but to still taste delicious!

We asked K.Jorn about the most popular dishes but he said it was hard to say what’s the favourite as the Isaan style is to order 4 or 5 dishes and share. Traditionally it’s a soup, grilled meat, minced meat and a spicy som tam.

Phanganist and Leo enjoyed dishes like this including pork neck with spicy dip, som tam with salted egg and delicious fried chicken with sticky rice.

We wondered whether K.Jorn still listens to his records but unfortunately his record player is not so good anymore;

“Now I listen on CD but the sound on vinyl is better, nothing will be better than vinyl in terms of sound!”

This is definitely an island gem and most unique to any other Thai restaurant is certainly the building, you may not feel as though you are on Koh Phangan when you are treated to a beautiful strong wooden table and bench rather than your typical plastic one.

The food is delicious, very fresh and full of delicate yet strong flavour with an authentic touch, perfect to enjoy with a few friends.