When we think of Phuket’s attractions, we always imagine the beaches, the Sino-Portuguese architecture of Phuket Town or the nightlife of Bangla Road. It’s time to think like a local and spend the day among nature at Buffalo Hub, in Mai Khao.
Located on the northern part of the island, Buffalo Hub is a local community business that aims to preserve a rare breed of Phuket’s buffalo before they go extinct. While Phuket is not known for its rice fields, it used to be a time when rice and buffaloes were a big part of the local economy.
The small shack at the entrance of Buffalo Hub acts as a reception, where you will be warmly welcomed by the villagers who are taking care of the place. This area doubles as a restaurant serving authentic southern-style dishes and other specialties from Phuket, both à la carte or through their Kanom Jeen buffet.
These white, glossy rice noodles are served with your choice of curries, such as fish meat curry, Tai Pla (a mix of fish guts, sweet potatoes, cashew nuts, and vegetables), and the less spicy options like chicken curry or peanut curry, bringing together a mix of sweet and spicy.
From the à la carte menu, we ordered the lotus stem stir-fried with pork belly in a shrimp paste with chili, deep-fried sand crab, and finally, Nam Chub Yum (a chili shrimp paste with shrimp meat, served with fresh vegetables to dip in). The soft lotus stems blended perfectly with the pork belly, thanks to the saltiness of the shrimp paste, and was cooked to perfection. Sand crab is rather unique, and you won’t find this dish in many restaurants in Phuket. Instead, Mai Khao beach is the destination if you would like to try this local specialty.
Bua Tod, the authentic Phuketian batter-fried bites of shrimps, waterweed and betel leaves, stir-fried Baegu leaves with eggs and crispy shrimps, and Gaeng Som Pla, a spicy orange curry soup with tamarind paste, fish and pork cartilage, are three dishes we can’t wait to go back for.
After a light lunch at the restaurant, take a digestive walk around their lush fields, where a lovely family of buffaloes is waiting and ready to show you some love.
Buffalo Hub is opened daily from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm. You can find it on Mai Khao Soi 10, right after the airport on the way to Soi Dog Foundation.