Mor Mu Dong, sounds like Mahmud’s Dong, at least this is how I remember the name… Anyway here’s a truly hidden gem off the beaten track, and for most foreigners it may well be a 10/10 challenge to find, and equally difficult to appreciate. Why you ask…? Well to begin with, MMD’s location is super obscure, so it be really difficult to convince a cab driver to take you there, and if you attempt riding or driving there yourself, you’d be rustling through deserted kampong roads with no road signs that seem to lead nowhere. Most folks would give up well before getting there…! As for the food, this is not your typical ensemble of Tom Yam Kung or Green Curry.., this is what local’s regard as “real” Thai food, consisting of nothing you might find in your regular tourist menu.. Hence if you are not into frog, water snails, blood cockles or fish entrails, then don’t even bother pursuing this adventure. If however you are not a creature of habit and your taste buds thrive on culinary challenges, then MMD would gladly usher you into the world of real Thai local flavor. Mind you this is not entry level stuff, and locals in the know truly love MMD to death, so much so they’d probably scorn on this review for fear of imminent tourist invasion on their closely guarded culinary secret.
It took some serious navigation prowess and tech, not to mention several leaps of faith for us to find MMD. Our eventual arrival (on our second attempt…) was greeted with curious stares as foreigners were obviously rare animals there. After some frantic hand gesturing (sorry no speak English…), we were eventually shown to a table at the end of a Sala (i.e. wooden house built on stilts with no walls). Oh yes I forgot to mention that MMD stands deep in a Mangrove Swamp, complete with thousands of tiny mangrove crabs snugly dug into slimy mud-filled catchments, frantically waving their one loose claw as if screaming for rescue at sea. One can easily imagine the area to be swarming with squadrons of blood suckers be it mosquito season…
Anyway after seating patiently for almost 30minutes, we realized that nobody was planning to take our order, probably because of the language obstacle, or perhaps they were just waiting for their one and only English orator (MMD’s manager I think…) to free herself from their monster kitchen (…huge mother of a kitchen!!!) and grace us with her attention. But here I’m being slightly critical I guess, as when we were eventually attended to, the staff actually turned out to be a pretty pleasant bunch… I guess they were just buying time before warming up to us..!
Knowing well we had limited stomach space, we asked only for the most popular dishes, which is a feat by itself as Thais will always tell you “everything aroy (delicious)”…! After 10mins of courteous maneuvering, we finally managed to line up seven of what might be their top dishes.., or at least amongst the best…
Soon after, complimentary appetizers arrived, consisting of a mint leaves salad, and a guava & pineapple ensemble dipped in sweetish-sour red spicy sauce. Nothing much to look at until I tasted the guava pineapple platter… DING DONG, said my unsuspecting taste buds… Kabam!! Nobody would guess that such a simple ensemble of fruits could produce such a perfect flavor mesh-up. The sappy-dull sweetness of the guava combined with the ultra-sweet pineapple worked like magic when dipped in the house blended spicy sauce… I was stuck completely speechless, too busy stuffing my face to waggle my tongue. This was just the appetizer, hence you can imagine my silent excitement eagerly awaiting our seven main dishes to arrive, and disappointed I was not as the next to appear was the (1) Curry Filled Mackerel… I pondered as I stared intensely into the seemingly ordinary little barbecued fish, wondering what could be so spectacular about this raved local favorite, until I dug my fork into its slightly burnt carcass and teared out a fiery red mesh. Carefully I placed it in my pie hole and exclaimed “Eureka”! This is Otak! Or at least the local version of it, except they don’t wrap it in banana leaves, but stuffed the seasoned meat back into the same mackerel that they had earlier disemboweled. This technique makes the “Otak” fish taste richer especially since you’d be eating the curried seasoned fish paste together with the outer flesh and lightly salted char-burned skin of the mackerel… Kabam!
Next was the (2) Moo Kua Klua (Stir fried pork belly in salt)… No need to explain any further as it taste exactly like it’s called… Recommended to be eaten together with the accompanying green Chilli-padi, the combination is simply… Kabam!
(5) Miang Goong Siah (green leaves with dry shrimps), another hot favorite amongst locals was our only vege-dish. Not too different from the hae-bee stir-fried veg dishes we have in Singapore, but this one uses good sized crusty dried shrimps with Thai seasoning and chillies to spice up the taste.., I cleaned it out… Kabam!
Hence you can imagine our dumbfounded faces when we lifted off the scaly fish skin to reveal the juiciest flesh impossible… Glimmering meat sliding off bone in chunks, juices oozing out from every side (…including from the side of my mouth…) No fishy taste here, just the freshest most succulent sea bass cooked to perfection..! Kabam! Kabam!
At the end the only dish I found a little more difficult to understand was the (7) Lampeng Soup, which is a vegetable originating from Phuket, and has sour-salty oomph. Made into a soup, the taste is rather complex and may take a little time to sink in… Not bad, just different.., but to my wife who’s a lunatic fan of its unique tang, downed the entire broth like a tasty camel.. KABAM!!!
To me, MMD is one of those genuine hidden gems that is what it is, and not designed to be as such.., and rare diamonds like this come by only once in a blue moon. I guess that makes it a lot more special as extraordinary discoveries challenge us rethink our sometimes dull and monotonous existence, and invigorates our quest to enrich our life experiences… Not always the best of what we already know, but rather the most of what we don’t…
Mor Mu Dong @ Mueang Phuket District, Phuket