Thailand is now the home of some of the best brick oven-baked pizza in Southeast Asia. Lucky’s Kitchen, which opened last year, has been offering scrumptious and authentic brick-fired pizza to the enthusiastic hordes of tourists and native Thais that have descended upon this small, cosy beachfront restaurant just outside of the small fishing village of Ban Phe, on the Gulf of Thailand, for ridiculously low prices.
Lucky’s Kitchen is the brainchild of married couple Bruce and Lucky Veldhuisen. For many years they have hosted delicious student banquets at their TESOL certification school, TEFL International, to welcome farang students to Thailand and to celebrate their graduation into the teaching job market a month later. Bruce is an expert at the barbeque, and his wife Lucky is a wizard in the kitchen; she can whip up traditional and tasty Thai dishes from scratch in a matter of minutes. Since they both enjoyed cooking for their students so much, they decided to branch out and open a regular restaurant on the beach just outside of Ban Phe, a spot much celebrated as the gateway to Koh Samet Island.
Bruce was able to hire a professional chef and bricklayer from Holland to build the authentic brick oven he uses for his pizza. It’s the only one within a hundred kilometer radius. He stacks fragrant and exotic tropical wood into the oven, lets it burn down to glowing charcoal, and then slides in the freshly prepared pizza, which comes back out in ten minutes as a mouth-watering extravaganza of molten cheese, spicy meats, and tangy vegetables. He is over-generous with his pizza sauce; it literally drips over the side of each slice, and is made with real, garden-fresh tomatoes, not canned produce. Connoisseurs of robust pizza have been known to come from as far away as Pattaya and even Bangkok just to sample the garlicky greatness of a pepperoni pizza at Lucky’s Restaurant. Besides, after enjoying the pizza you can simply slip off of the porch and into the ocean for a leisurely swim in the warm and lazy current of the Gulf of Thailand. What’s not to like?
Of course, if you are not in the mood for pizza you can always have lasagna, a steak, or a fiery Thai curry, straight from Lucky’s skilled hands in the kitchen to you, with a heaping helping of fragrant jasmine rice on the side. When Bruce and Lucky are not at their TEFL International school, they are your gracious hosts at the restaurant, where Bruce is always glad to tell stories of his glory days on the high school football team in Oregon, or his days at Oregon State University studying for his MBA, and Lucky retails all the latest gossip about local and national Thai celebrities to one and all. They are a fascinating couple, well-connected and well-respected in the community, as well as recognized throughout all of Asia for their accomplishments at providing English teachers to schools in many distant lands.
When you come to Thailand you definitely want to eat as many meals on the beach as you can – and you definitely want to have most of them at Lucky’s Restaurant – only a year old, but already a famous tradition for both Thais and Farangs.