Nakhon Si Thammarat, the largest province in southern Thailand, is located on the east coast of the Malay Peninsula with Krabi to the west. My wife studied traditional Thai dance here when she was a young girl and still visit the town from time to time when some errands need to be done.
Most recent, she needed to meet a dermatologist, and before we went back to Krabi, she wanted to show me Kopi 1942, which is a famous breakfast place in the center of Nakhon Si Thammarat Town serving old-style coffee, traditional tea, dim sum and other Chinese/Thai food.
Although it’s known for being a breakfast place for the locals, you can come here for dinner as we did or simply have a coffee and enjoy the old colonial style restaurant – highly recommended if you are in Nakhon Si Thammarat.
Kopi, which is a Malay/Hokkien term for coffee, was established in 1942 and little has changed since then.
Food from Isaan (northeast Thailand) is my favorite food in Thailand. I wish I could say that southern Thailand has the best food since my wife is from the south, but I just can’t. BBQ pork neck with tamarind sauce (kor moo yang nahm jim jaew) and larb moo are two dishes I order whenever I get the chance. Other famous dishes from Isaan is papaya salad (som tum) and Isaan fermented sausage (sai grok Isaan).
When we were in Koh Samui a couple of days earlier this year, we were driving around hungry looking for a place to eat. Eventually, we stopped at a place called Tumlai By Copacabana. Boy, are we happy we ended up here! We loved the food so much we decided to come back the next day. I also brought my camera.
Yaowarat or Chinatown as most tourists would call it is a must-visit in Bangkok. It’s a good vibe here, especially at night between 6 p.m. and midnight when both locals and tourists can be seen everywhere along the Yaowarat Road munching one of the best street foods in the world (except Mondays as there are no stalls due to sidewalk cleaning).
We visited Chinatown after 10.00 p.m., and some neon signs were already turned off. You should, therefore, come here earlier because the long strip of neon signs are really cool and provides some great night photos.
Here are some dishes you need to try when in Chinatown.
Massaman curry is a relatively mild, but rich Thai Muslim curry with potatoes and most commonly chicken. This dish was voted #1 in CNN Travel’s ‘World’s 50 best foods‘. I personally don’t agree on that, but I know that many would do anything for a nice Massaman curry. So, where to find the best ones? The easy answer is: look for a Muslim restaurant. With its proximity to Malaysia, Southern Thailand is home to many Muslim communities (Krabi has a 40% Muslim population) and most of the Muslim restaurants will display a Halal sign in Arabic (ذَبِيْحَة حلالا). If you don’t want to go out hunting for Halal signs, you can, of course, find good Massaman curries in other places. One example is Massaman Restaurant & Bar in Ao Nang (try the one with beef) if you happen to pass by this resort town in Krabi.
A traditional Massaman curry with flavors of cardamom, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, star anise, cumin, bay leaves and nutmeg. Not typical Thai curries. Photo: About Food
When I asked the girl who would later become my wife out to dinner the first time, I asked if she knew a good restaurant. Sure, she knew. She knew very well! Oh boy, DID SHE KNOW?! When it was time to pay I was a bit shocked it was so expensive. I thought it was cheap eating out in Thailand. It turned out she had taken me to one of the finest and most expensive restaurants in Phuket. She has never eaten there before, but she wanted to try. She is not dumb, my wife. But it was probably the best dining experience I ever had in Thailand. The bill landed at around 2,500-3,000 THB (600 Norwegian kroner or 75 USD).
Ruen Mai is without a doubt the best restaurant in Krabi if you want to eat authentic southern Thai food. When we had lunch here, most of the guests were Thai – probably tourists from Bangkok on holiday in Krabi interested in trying real southern Thai cuisine.
Ruen Mai used to be located in Krabi Town, but after a short closure, it has re-opened in a nice new location in Klong Chilat, just out of town. The restaurant is set outdoors in a garden with wooden raised boardwalks, and most of the vegetables and herbs are grown on site.
You can sit under the open sky or a fabulous bamboo tent which is lit at night. I wish I’d taken my camera so I could have taken better “food pictures,” but I just had my GoPro with me. We didn’t order any extraordinary meals, as my wife craved for “normal” southern Thai food. But it was bloody yummy!
The famous Kang Ban Phe (Mantis Shrimp Noodle Soup) from Rayong can also be enjoyed in Bangkok. The mantis shrimp is a delicious type of crayfish with a sweet taste like lobster and tender meat like crab. The Kang Ban Phe Noodle & Seafood Café is located in a hip spot in the area of Lumpini Park, near Ploen Chit BTS station in Bangkok. At the prices of around 200-250 baht per dish, it’s quite a reasonable price, given the quality; fresh mantis shrimp caught in the morning. The only downside is the small portion. If you love seafood, give it a try, but avoid rush hour (12-1 p.m) if you don’t want to stand in a long line.
There are plenty of local markets in Phuket, and one of them is Tawee Samarn market, located close the Phuket Rajabhat University in Phuket Town. It’s not one of the most famous markets, and when I googled this place I could hardly find any information; but it’s a nice place for a touch of local life – something I always enjoy. Usually, my wife and I eat out in Thailand, but this day my wife wanted to cook something special, and since we stayed at my brother-in-law’s house, we had the opportunity to cook by ourselves.
The market is located inside a 3200 square meters large warehouse-looking building with 120 stalls, selling fresh local produce, clothes and gadgets. You can also buy ready-made meals from one of the many food stalls. The market is open every day from 5:00 a.m. to 22:00 p.m, and there’s a spot for car parking with space for 30-40 cars.
Worth a visit, if you are in the ‘hood – otherwise there are better markets favorite among tourists. Please have a look at the video I recorded while walking around the market.
I just want to wish everyone a merry holiday. For exactly two years ago, my wife and I had a dinner at Mom Tri’s Kitchen in Phuket, overlooking Kata Noi Beach and the Andaman Sea. This year we’re in Scandinavia, having dinner with another Mom – the one who gave me birth. But we had the Christmas dinner yesterday. In Scandinavia, December 24 is the highlight of Christmas. After enjoying the classic Swedish Christmas smörgåsbord, everyone is waiting for Santa to arrive. Take care of each other, and I’ll see you next year.
A small pick from the Swedish Christmas smorgasbord.
Well, this is actually a tip for everybody since it’s a good restaurant, serving both Thai and international dishes. Blue Mango is a Swedish owned restaurant with some Swedish specialties in the menu like meatballs, plank steak and baked potato with skagenröra. Located on the main beach road in Ao Nang, just opposite the popular Krabi Resort, the restaurant has around 35 seats outdoors and 70 inside.
Blue Mango Restaurant & Bar in Ao Nang, Krabi.