Phuket is a culinary mecca for visitors to Thailand that enjoy fine food, and thanks to its prime position in the Andaman Sea, freshly caught seafood is a prominent feature on many island menus. Phuket is also home to a plethora of international eateries for visitors seeking something a little different from the tang of many traditional Thai dishes.
Like many other Asian nations, Thailand is known for its mouthwatering street food. Visitors used to sitting down in restaurants back home revel in the fact that they can graze their way around Thai markets, sampling an array of dishes as they wander through the stalls. Pad Thai is a street food favourite, offering a delicious blend of soft noodles, beansprouts, egg, nuts and chilli – and especially indulgent with a handful of juicy prawns thrown in for good measure. Other dishes to look out for include marinated pork and chicken satay, which are great for those who want to snack on the go as they browse the market stalls. There are also plenty of dishes to tempt visitors with a sweet tooth. Khanom buang, crepe-like shells stuffed with gooey coconut filling, are a particular favourite with international visitors.
For visitors seeking home cooked flavours, local Thai restaurants are a great place to soak up Phuket’s relaxed island vibe and cuisine. Many restaurants on the island are situated in pergola type buildings with thatched palm roofs and no walls, making them a great place to catch the sea breeze and enjoy the fabulous flavours of the Kingdom. Service is simple, and guests usually eat from a plastic plate and drink beverages straight from a cooler full of ice. However, what local restaurants may lack in terms of fine dining credentials, they more than make up for with the array of sumptuous dishes on the menu. Gai Med Ma Moung – roasted chicken and cashew nuts served over rice and vegetables – is a classic local dish to try. Tangy Yom Yum soup is also featured on the menus of many local restaurants, along with Khao Pad – fragrant Thai fried rice and served with egg and a choice of chicken, pork or seafood. Visitors can usually find a few western dishes on the menu at local restaurants as well, including fish and chips or a simple burger.
As Thailand’s popularity with overseas visitors has soared, a multitude of international restaurants have set up shop to cater to the growing number of global travellers. Phuket in particular is home to a close knit Chinese community, which means there are plenty of good Chinese restaurants to choose from, especially in Phuket Old Town. Indian food is also well represented on the island, and visitors are spoilt for choice with the array of restaurants peppered across the main resort areas. Another cuisine that has found a new home in the Land of Smiles is Italian. Infused with the spice of Thai cuisine and the high quality of its seafood, the splendid flavours of the Mediterranean come to life on Phuket. For those searching for a taste of home, pub grub is also readily available at various foreign run bars and restaurants across Phuket.
Food on the Go
Sometimes you get a craving that only a bellyful of fast food will fix, especially when there are kids involved. Fortunately, Phuket is home to a plentiful selection of fast food outlets for visitors in the mood for some well known favourites, or for those who don’t have much time for a lengthy sit down meal. KFC, McDonalds, Burger King and Pizza Hut can all be found on the island. Local fast food chains like The Pizza Company are also popular with visitors who want the familiarity of fast food but want to try out a new restaurant. Ice cream chains like Haagen Das and Swensens are also popular with locals and visitors on Phuket.
For special occasions, visitors to Phuket have plenty of restaurants and chic bistros to choose from. Upmarket hotels, of which Phuket boasts quite a selection, usually offer to their own international restaurant (often Italian) and Thai eatery. Many independent restaurants also offer fine dining with carefully crafted menus, award winning chefs and spectacular sea views adding a little more wow factor to an evening out. A number of restaurants, beach clubs, cafes and bistros on the island also offer Sunday brunch buffets and have special food promotions for visitors look out for.
For visitors staying in one of Phuket’s excellent private holiday rental villas, sometimes there is nothing better than a night in with some delicious home cooking. The best rental properties come with the services of a professional Thai chef who will put together a bespoke menu featuring either gourmet Thai or Western dishes. The villa staff pick up fresh ingredients from the local market so guests have no need to leave the villa at all. Meals can be served in a variety of stunning locations around the property – in the air-conditioned comfort of the dining room, on the cool poolside terrace or even right on the beach – as many of the villas feature beach direct access. If a barbecue appeals, the chef can also source the freshest seafood and most succulent meats to grill up back at the villa.
Posted by Wayne Hue