The Chao Lay seafood restaurant is one of the most famous in Hua Hin. The restaurant is built on a jetty and makes for a very pleasant al-fresco dining experience with a gentle breeze blowing in from the Gulf of Thailand. Chao Lay is open for lunch during the day, but it is the evening when the restaurant is at its busiest. This is particularly true at weekends when holidaying Thais and day-trippers from Bangkok come to enjoy some of the best seafood on offer in Hua Hin.
The staff at Chao Lay run a very efficient and organized operation. This is quite a contrast to many Thai restaurants which often have a more laid-back and haphazard approach. Using walkie-talkies, the waiting staff communicate with the kitchen to ensure orders are served quickly. At peak times, as soon as a group of diners leaves a cleaning team sweeps into action to clear the table and have it ready for the next set of customers.
By Thai standards, the price of food at the Chao Lay restaurant falls into the moderate category. When I was last there with family we ordered Tom Kha Gai (chicken in a spicy coconut soup), deep-battered prawns and deep-fried pomfret fish. Together with 3 plates of rice, 1 Sprite, 1 bottle of water and 1 cocktail, the total bill came to 950 Baht. The food was excellent and although Hua Hin has a number of seafood restaurants, Chao Lay probably has the best reputation of the lot. Downstairs in the kitchen, you can see the fresh fish which has been caught and is still swimming around in tanks waiting to be prepared. The only really negative note about Chao Lay is that the stairs to get on to the jetty and the restaurant are quite steep which may deter elderly visitors or those with walking difficulties. Chao Lay restaurant is located on Thanon Naretdamri (the road that runs parallel to the sea) in between the Hilton Hotel and the Fishing Pier. Coming from the Night Market area, walk straight along Thanon Dechanuchit (Soi 57) towards the sea until you see the large overhead Chao Lay sign in front of you (pictured right).