Back when I entered Thailand in October of last year (2021) travellers had the option to quarantine in a hotel room in Bangkok, or enter via what was called the “Phuket Sandbox” where you had to have. a covid test on arrival in Phuket (as well as before you left your home country – up to 72 hours before your flight) and once you received a negative test result you were free to travel the island as you wished, and able to leave after 7 days (and a second negative test result on day 5)
If that all sounds a little complicated, panic not, at the time of writing (April 2022) you now are able to enter via Test & Go where you take a covid test on arrival and once your negative test result comes through you are free to travel at your leisure
Of course back then entering via “Phuket Sandbox” was a no-brainer and I extended my stay in Phuket to 10 days to relax in the sunshine, catch up with friends, and of course eat lots of delicious Thai food.
Here, in no particular order, is my round up of my favourite meals and where to eat in Phuket.
Ok Maybe there is something perverse about listing an Isaan restaurant in a round up of where to eat in Phuket but E-san Lumtoey near Cherng Talay was excellent, and if you were in Phuket for a while, you might want a break from Southern Thai cooking
We shared a selection of dishes as pictured below;
Moo Dad Deaw (หมูแดดเดียว) one of my favourite Thai dishes (found all over Thailand) which is made by sun drying seasoned strips of pork until they are semi-dry, then deep frying them until they turn a rich golden brown.
Som Tam (ส้มตำไทย) a fiery salad of green papaya pounded in a wooden pestle and mortar with ingredients such as chillis, fresh lime juice, palm sugar, garlic, peanuts and tomatoes, amongst others. Ours also had vermicelli noodles mixed in with the papaya which was delicious and made for a super refreshing dish
Yum Tuapu (ยำถั่วพู) a salad of wing beans tossed with coconut milk, fresh lime, chilli, garlic and fish sauce (amongst others) and served with grilled prawns in this case. Another refreshing salad that is perfect to enjoy in hot & tropical Thai weather
Gaeng Hed La-ngog (แกงเห็ดระโงก) an Isaan wild mushroom soup, in this case made with 5 different types of mushropoms, including one that can only be found in Phuket! The soup has a tart base of chilli, lemongrass and Thai basil with fish sauce and local greens like Pak-tiew ( ผักติ้ว ) which help as a souring agent.
Even with a couple of large beers, our lunch cost less than $10 each, a great welcome back to Phuket!
Without a doubt, Khanom jeen nam ya (ขนมจีนน้ำยา) is one of my favourite Southern Thai dishes, and this recommendation from the team at Fantastic Food Search was spot on!
Kanom Jeen are thin fermented rice noodles made from rice that has been fermenting for a couple of days. The labour intensive process means that its not something people typically make themselves, and if you ever see them being freshly made you absolutely mustn’t miss out on trying them!
Typically for a restaurant like this, the kanom jeen noodles and several different types of gravies/curries were place on the counter for you to help yourself to, whilst each table had a larger platter of “pak naw” assorted herbs and vegetables that you add to the noodles to supplement both the flavour and the “bulk” as the gravies/curries are typically quite thin.
I love the concept of pak naw, its common to see extremely regional and seasonal herbs and greens in them so I am always excited to try them and learn what each ingredients is such as cashew tree leaves, accaccia leaves, pak tiaw & water celery alongside the more familiar things like beansprouts, cucumber, Thai basil, pineapple, and chopped beans.
Kanom jeen is a breakfast dish to ideally you want to be there before 9am, if you are anywhere near Phuket town, I would wholeheartedly recommend it
Wattanpol is not so much a restaurant as a curry puff stall, but there are a few seats available should you choose to eat your curry puff whilst its still piping hot and fresh out of the fryer, as opposed to taking it away with you. Whilst they advertise being open from 8am-5pm daily, they tend to sell out earlier than this – personally, I would recommend Wattanapol Curry Puff as the ideal break for elevenses 😉
Choose from a staggering array of options (including durian!) whilst their chicken curry puff is known as their signature, I loved the sweet sticky soy braised pork curry puff that I ordered. Some of the best food in Phuket town can be found at little stalls like this, many of them listed on the Fantastic Food Search blog so if you are wondering where to eat in Phuket, that is a great place to start!
Mae Khlong Seafood Rawai
Whilst I ate a lot of seafood whilst I was in Phuket, I found Mae Khlong to be far the best of the average “run of the mill” local seafood spots, and Rawai is a very pretty location to head to and enjoy a day or two down in the south of the island.
We shared several dishes amongst us as below ;
Bu Pad Pong Karee (ปูผัดผงกะหรี่) is one of my “guilty secret” Thai dishes, whilst other curries are super complex, this is an incredible simple comforting curry made with fresh crab stirfried in a a basic curry sauce made from curry powder, eggs, milk, soy sauce, oyster sauce and curry paste with big chunks of onions, peppers and celery.
Bai Leang Pad Kai (ใบเหลียงผัดไข่) a classic southern Thai dish of stirfried egg and “melinjo” leaves
Nam Tok Moo (น้ำตกหมู) a grilled pork neck salad which has been tossed with toasted rice, chilli powder, lime and fish sauce
Pad Cha Talay (ผัดฉ่าทะเล) a simple seafood stirfry found on menus across the country. Taken literally, “Pad Cha” refers to getting your wok up to such a high heat that the ingredients literally explode when added to the wok. Ours was a delicious mix of firm fleshed fish, prawns, mussels and squid
All in I think lunch came to under 1000 THB a head (including beers) which considering the stunning views, and very lovely service, seemed like an absolute steal!
My recommendations for where to eat in Phuket only cover a few small areas, there are plenty of great restaurants to be found at every turn. I’d love to hear where your favourite restaurants in Phuket are, or where to find your favourite dish – do let me know where to eat in Phuket in the comments!