On a recent aimless walk through the quiet backstreets of Chalong, I came across an eatery which fit my idiosyncratic criteria: ‘Louis Sweet Cafe.’ Set at the back of the Jangyim-Roche family’s home, the cafe boasts unspoilt views of Big Buddha, Nakkerd Hills and a lush field grazed by the occasional buffalo. A true hidden gem.
Although they call themselves a cafe, their menu offers a comprehensive mix of Thai and Western breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Customers can make use of the family’s pool, too.
It might surprise you to learn that the cafe’s eponymous baker and all-round helper is all of 10 years old. With flawless English and boundless enthusiasm, Louis makes the experience of eating there.
“The first thing I ever cooked was bacon for my dad when I was four,” says Louis. “I learned how to bake when I was nine. We sold brownies outside our old shop and the most I made was B4,000 in one day,” he adds, beaming.
While Thidaporn, Louis’ mother, does the bulk of the cooking as the newly-opened cafe finds its feet, Louis has his role to play slicing and preparing meat, cooking burgers and making batches of his signature sticky chocolate brownies.
He also comes to his mother with ideas for new dishes, often inspired by YouTube videos he’s seen. He recently scoured Jungceylon and local markets for a particular type of squid after discovering Japanese odorigui online, a dish in which the headless animal’s tentacles continue to move due to electrical impulses, although he admits that dish is a “little creepy” and won’t be making an appearance at the cafe anytime soon.
“When we try new things and they’re hard to make, it’s exciting. I feel good when I cook. I like the fire and the knives too!” explains Louis.
His current project is the pizza burrito, but he becomes uncharacteristically quiet when we touch on this, perhaps wanting to keep the special recipe a secret for now suggests Thidaporn.
It’s heartwarming to see this wholesome mother-son team in action and impressive to see Louis front of house handling orders, making recommendations and effortlessly conversing with customers at such a tender age.
“He is my shadow. I’m so lucky to have him,” Thidaporn says. “I sold my shop and was going to sell the house and move back to Bangkok but he didn’t want to. He said the spirits of the house didn’t want us to either. So we stayed and opened this cafe at the end of last year instead.”
Talking to Louis makes me feel slightly embarrassed that my only relatable experience was as a teenage retail worker which lasted all of two weeks after I called in sick (okay, hungover) and was promptly fired. It’s clear that the opportunities and experiences the cafe bring will stand him in good stead for the future.
When Louis isn’t busy cooking up a storm or charming customers, you can find him either gaming, at the gun range with his father, dancing or watching football (despite seeing his beloved Manchester United lose a few too many times now).
As if this busy boy didn’t have enough on his plate, he now has his sights set on competing in the popular cooking game show MasterChef Junior Thailand this year. He certainly has my support and will undoubtedly have that of any customers who take the time to experience this wonderful cafe for themselves.
Louis Sweet Cafe is open from 9am each day and is located at 10/12 Soi Chalong, Chang Wat Phuket, 83130.
Website – louis-sweet-cafe.business.site
Contact – 081 958 7612