iReport: 5 great Phuket dishes and where to try them

Posted on June 21, 2012

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A Thailand-based iReporter shares a few of his favorite southern seafood specialties, along with a list of Phuket restaurants serving them.

In a recent CNNGo iReport assignment, we asked iReporters to share their favorite Thai dishes. Phuket-based Willy Thuan, 51, submitted the following photos and article on where to enjoy some of the southern Thai island’s most delicious seafood specialties. 

One of the most enjoyable parts of traveling in Thailand is trying out some real local specialties, not the bland dishes nicely illustrated on your hotel menu, but the real stuff –- things you can barely pronounce or even identify.

And to make the journey really worth it, it’s best to go to places where Thai people go. Don’t just run to the local shack next door — you just might get some very average food.

The key is to find places that Thai people travel long distances to eat in, even coming all the way from Bangkok.

When you find an anonymous and remote (but packed) place, you know you are onto something special. So to make your life easier, here are five Phuket seafood specialties, and five great places to find them.

Geng Som (means ‘sour soup’ in southern dialect)

A dish only for the brave, this very pungent, very spicy and very yellow fish soup cooked with tamarind juice and turmeric is a great Phuket specialty, but you have to be ready for the smell, and amount of chili used in its preparation.

Pla Tom Taochiew

A gentle spicy and sour fish soup cooked with fermented soybeans. It’s really delicious and, for some people, a perfect hangover cure.

Yum Pak Good

This green fern salad with coconut milk is sour, spicy and salty. The slightly crunchy texture of the ferns goes really well with coconut milk and lime juice. Remember to keep an eye on the green chilies trying treacherously to blend in with the ferns.

Homok

A delicious and nice-looking spicy curry fish mousse steamed in bai cha-ploo leaves and wrapped in a banana leaf. Served in local restaurants, it might be quite spicy and occasionally has a strong fishy taste.

Pak Miang Tom Kati Koong Sot

Pak miang is a local leaf, cooked in creamy coconut milk with fresh prawns. This very gentle dish smells great and is a little similar to yogurt; a great way to cool down after the hot dishes listed above.

Where to eat

Mor Mu Dong

Mor Mu Dong is hard to find, but even some international celebrity chefs and food critics have managed to make their way here.

This is a great local experience: sit on the floor under the thatched roofs of small wooden huts built on stilts above a mangrove swamp. It’s a great way to enjoy great local seafood, but you also can eat at normal tables.

To get there: from Chaofa road (4021), turn at Soi Palai and drive past the Phuket Zoo. Follow the signs till the end of the road.

Ang Seafood

Ang Seafood, in Phuket Town, is a simple anonymous looking restaurant but it’s packed every night. Nothing fancy here, a roof, plastic tables and chairs and of course amazing seafood.

Don’t be fooled by how casually dressed people eating here might look; some are very wealthy and that’s the charm of eating in Thailand. Great food doesn’t have to be expensive or served on porcelain plates.

To get there: In Phuket Town, near the Clock Tower on Phuket Road, leading to Saphan Hin Park, almost opposite the Bang Niew Chinese Shrine.

Chakachan Seafood

Chakachan Seafood: ideal for a Robinson Crusoe culinary break in the warm breezes.

Chakachan Seafood doesn’t look much like much, but it does serve some good and unusual seafood specialties.

Located in the north of Phuket Island, the restaurant consists of a dozen huts set right on the beach facing the Andaman Sea.

To get there: Drive up Thepkasatri road 402 all the way to the north of Phuket, way past the airport. Soon after the large unmistakable police post, keep your eyes on the left and you won’t miss the bamboo huts on the beach itself.

Kru Suwit Floating Restaurant

Dining at Kru Suwit is a bit more expensive than normal, probably because this restaurant is built on several rafts a few hundred meters from the Phuket coastline.

A free long-tail boat gives you a charming five-minute ride to the restaurant which adds to the fun. The seafood is kept in nets between each raft, so it can hardly get fresher than this.

To get there: on the east coast of Phuket Island, outside Phuket Town on Thepkasatri road, (402), take Soi Kiatsin 2 (follow the signs to Coconut Village) and drive all the way to the pier.

Bang Pae Seafood

Bang Pae Seafood on the east coast is also hard to find, but the many cars parked at the end of the road proves how popular the restaurant is. This is a great place to spend a lazy seafood lunch with an unusual background of large trees growing in the sea.

To get there: Coming from Phuket Town on the airport road 402, turn right at the Heroines’ Monument on road 4027, then follow the signs to the Bang Pae Waterfall. The street leading to the restaurant sits almost opposite the road leading to the waterfall.

More driving directions can be found on my Phuket Blog.

For more CNNGo iReport assignments and submissions, visit our iReport page.

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Posted in: Phuket