Real Authentic Thai Food in Phuket? Where?
I'm heading to Phuket in Thailad in a couple weeks for a 5 day break. I will be with my wife and 9 month old baby. Both my wife and myself love good authentic Thai food (ie, not the Tourist-Friendly version of Green and Red curries, etc)... Can good authentic Thai food be found in Phuket? or is it all toned down and made tourist friendly on this resort island?
I have read that Phuket town offers some of the best options... Bear in mind that we are travelling with a 9 month old baby so hygiene, safety, and location are things to be considered when choosing a place to eat at....
Thanks in advance,
Just returned yesterday from Thailand, including 4 days in Phuket. As you mention, it's a bit difficult to get authentic Thai food in those areas -- street food is where it's at, and not the street food where the tourists are! I'm not sure if you've been to Asia before, but if not you may have issues with the street food since the finicky will feel they're dirty & disgusting. You should also look at the street food carefully -- there were some places with flies crawling over the food (more in super-touristy Phi Phi than elsewhere) -- obviously avoid those but instead go to places where you see Thais ordering from. Alas in Phuket there seem to be significantly more European/Australian tourists than Thais, but that's another story.
The night market in Phuket town had lots of food stalls, but it was a bit difficult to order if you don't read or speak Thai. There were some stalls which seemed to cater to tourists with English menus, but we avoided those and instead just looked to see which ones were popular with the locals. Then we would just get what they ordered (via pointing or asking the folks who ordered to order some for us too) if it looked good :) There was delicious fried chicken and mango sticky rice there. That said, I'm not sure I would bother going again since it's a bit of a drive from the main tourist areas, and we got rather lost.
One of our best meals in Thailand was surprisingly in Patong in the food alley -- at night this is a beer-soaked tourist spot, but we went at lunchtime when the area was totally empty except for a few Thais in the service industry getting their meals from a couple small carts. We got fish/veggies steamed in bamboo leaves (similar to Hawaiian lau lau), bamboo shoots & veggie flowerets (don't know what it was) with chili sauce, and a pork/veggie soup from a very unassuming cart for only 80 baht total for three people (less than $3 USD, or under $1 each)! Extremely delicious. I've attached photos.
BTW we also went to Baan Rim Pa for dinner that day, and while the atmosphere was nice and there were some interesting items on the menu, it was extremely overpriced. Some may say it's toned down for tourists, and that may be the case, but I'm also wondering if upscale Thai food is more subtle & has European influences (my Vietnamese husband says that's the case for Vietnamese food).
Another place to try are the seafood restos on Rawaii Beach. They also seemed a bit touristy and the food wasn't mind-blowing, but it was quite reasonably priced and you can sit cross-legged by a table by the water, rather romantic in a downscale way. We ordered horseshoe crab roe salad (more interesting than delicious, probably would not recommend) and some delicious grilled crab (we insisted on the more lively ones from the tank).
Thanks for that info. Actually to answer your question, we have travelled around Asia quite a bit and so are reasonably comfortable eating street food. We also have the same 'rules/guidelines' for choosing steet food hawkers (ie, locals eating there, busy turnover, no flies sitting on the food, etc)... Although now we have a 9 month old baby we are probably a little more careful about where we are eating...
From what I've read and been told so far Phuket town does seem to offer the best options for Thai dining but as you mention I'm not sure how convenient it wil be to travel there for dinner in the evenings? We will probably base ourselves out of Kata or Karon beach on the South West side of the island...
A couple of other places I have been reading about are:
Ka Jok See
These are all in Phuket town.
I'm quite interested to try and find some of the muslim-influenced dishes that should be prevalent in Southern Thailand. Being of Indian origin myself I can never have enough Roti and Curry :-) But I also read about a sort of Thai Biriyani called khao mok gai which the Thai muslims cook which sounds interesting...
I would stay well clear of Ka Jok See. It is more an after hours drag club than a resto.
I just got back from a stay but only ventured outside the resort for food 3 times.
I would recommend Kru Suwit seafood - on a floating platform where u can see the catch live. Very local and you need to take a long tail boat from the pier (5 min ride).
Authentic Gaeng Som and v fresh seafood. Had the biggest cockles I've seen in my life.
I went to Japan once for the gov't and had a "handler"--someone assigned to me to make sure I understood the cultural context of everything that was going on and would make sure I didn't embarass my country. I had an extraordinarily insightful experience.
The next trip I took (for pleasure) was to Thailand and I found a cabby who spoke English fairly well and I hired him as a handler. He drove me everywhere and knew where to find all the things I wanted to see and eat. He explained everything that was going on. I highly recommend doing that.
Good advice... We usually try and ask hotel staff where we are staying where they go to eat but also a good idea to ask taxi guys as you say... The tricky part is getting them to give you the advice you are looking for as sometimes they believe you just want the adjusted flavour for tourists...
I was brought to Kaneang Seafood (southern part of Phuket island) by a local businessman. Great, great lobster dishes. That's where I had the best meal during my llast visit to Phuket.
Don't think it's cheap by Thai standards, but it's also not exhorbitant either. Loved the rustic, seaside atmosphere. You can check out its website & see if you're interested:
just cutting and pasting what i wrote about raya thai from another posting on phuket thai food. regarding hygiene and safety... it's as good as it gets unless you're in a high-end hotel restaurant.
a great place in phuket that most visitors don't seem to know about is called Raya Thai Cuisine on 48 New Deebuk Cross Road in Phuket Town, tel. +66 07/621-8155. the time i went everyone called it "Madam Rose" (maybe after the proprietress?) and it took me a year to find the actual name of it. old house with a small courtyard, traditional old school thai food and seafood. nice atmosphere and excellent food, particularly since so much of what you find in phuket is crummy tourist stuff. much more popular with thais visiting from bangkok than international tourists.
I just got back from Phuket this weekend and took some tips from a blogger in Phuket.
I went to 3 places on his blog and they were all spot on. I had the pad Thai, crab fried rice, and a noodle soup dish with everything...chicken, chicken feet, beef ball, and pork belly. All dishes were $40 baht...$1.33 Baht except for the noodle soup which was $60 baht $2 USD. It is located by Karon beach. We went 2 times in one day.
Another place I went to was Laem Hin Seafood. It is on the north east end of Phuket and well worth the drive. Everything was fresh and away from the tourist area. Almost everybody there were local Thais or Thais on vacation. We had mixed seafood Tom Yum soup, Preserved crab papaya salad, black pepper crab, and salt & pepper rock lobster for $1085 Baht...$36 USD.
Another place we went to was Mama Noi. I was a great change of pace for something that is more restaurant instead of street food stall style close to the beach. Everything was reasonably priced and if you go you have to try their banana shake.