Thai food has, without a doubt, gone global.
Most cities and towns across the many hemispheres have some sort of Thai offering, but nothing compares to tasting the real thing among the people of Thailand. From breakfast to lunch and dinner, Phuket’s food scene offers any traveller a perfect opportunity to experience the history and culture of Thailand through the pleasures of the palette.
No matter where you stay in Phuket, the food around you will be sublime. From street vendors’ offerings to any restaurant’s take on spicy papaya salad and Pad Thai, here are some of the foods you have to try the next time you’re in Phuket.
A classic Phuket breakfast option, Kao Tom is boiled white rice served with a choice of meat, a smattering of other vegetables and usually an egg. It’s a lighter dish, and it’s the way most Thai people start their day. If it seems a little too basic, don’t worry — breakfast can get a lot bigger and more complicated.
Dim Sum got its start in China, but it’s a great way to experience a more interesting Thai breakfast. Dim Sum restaurants abound in Phuket, and they treat the dish sort of like a Chinese tapas. The variety is vast, and most are served in small bamboo containers. The portions are small, so you can try a handful of different types at one sitting and still not feel too heavy for a day of sightseeing.
A very common dish all over Thailand, Kanom Jeen is soft rice noodles served with your choice of curries, plenty of side vegetables and a boiled egg. While most Thais don’t eat Kanom Jeen as their first meal of the day, you can still get it on almost any street corner in Phuket as early as 5 a.m., which — if you were out all night the night before — can be a handy tool in settling your stomach for the coming day.
Street Vendor Fruit
While there is the risk of food-borne illness anytime you eat uncooked food in a foreign country, if you’re willing to take the risk, do so with some of the fresh fruit peddled by street vendors. Packed in ice so it’s bitingly cold, the vendor will slice it up fresh for you, toss it into a bag and hand you a skewer. The best part is that the fruit comes with another small bag of sugar, salt and chilli powder mix. Skewer a piece of fruit and dip it into the powder. The extra kick of sweet, salty and spicy is fantastic.
A regional dish from the northeastern part of Thailand, Som Tam is a huge favourite across the country. A spicy papaya salad that can vary in sweetness, acidity and spiciness based on where you get it, the commonalities are shredded, under-ripe papaya and plenty of heat. It’s a great complement to any main dish.
Pad Thai is easily the Thai dish that has resounded most consistently with the rest of the world. Rice noodles accompanied by some type of bean sprout, tofu or other protein, onion and peanuts, the rest of the dish allows the eater to choose how it’s completed. From fish sauce and sugar to chilli powder, citrus and crushed peanuts, in Phuket, you can almost always cater your Pad Thai experience to your exact specifications.
Tom Kha Gai
An easy, simple and remarkably refreshing soup, Tom Kha Gai is made from boiled chicken, coconut milk, lemongrass and galangal, which tastes like a mild ginger. Slightly sweet and creamy without being too heavy, this soup is Phuket’s version of comfort food.
The Thai word for “Muslim” is “Massaman,” and that is the origin of this popular Thai dish. A mix of potatoes, coconut milk, roasted peanuts, sugar, cinnamon, bay leaves and tamarind, it is usually accompanied by beef or chicken since practitioners of Islam avoid pork. However, because it has been so heartily embraced in Thailand, you can definitely find pork versions of it in Phuket.
No matter the type or variety of your holiday goals in Phuket, make sure to give your attention over to the food. Regardless of the time of day or meal you’re about to experience or the happenings on your itinerary, there are few things in Phuket that can rival its amazing food.
About the Author: Ben Goode is a contributing blogger, who studied for part of his undergraduate degree in Thailand.