Prior to the arrival of Phuket Island’s more upmarket/luxurious resorts dining options were a lot more limited to what they are now. Sure, there was still a good variety of Thai & international food available; however, it was more to do with the establishments from where they were served which was limited, pretty much to roadside restaurants only.
However, for myself, and I’m sure a lot more visitors, not only to Phuket, but Thailand’s other small tourist islands, this was one of the attractions, and still is. Unfortunately, the luxury of being able to eat good quality food, at very reasonable prices is something many in the west do not get to enjoy, the only option when it comes to eating out so to speak is dining at an expensive restaurant.
Although Phuket has seen a large increase in the number of higher standard restaurants, there are still a large number of roadside restaurants catering to an equally large number of locals and tourists. Some sell a wide range of authentic Thai favourites, whilst others specialize in one particular dish.
The following Top 5 Roadside Restaurants have been chosen not because we believe they are the best to be found, but we do believe that they are the best for their own individual specialty. The 5 run in no particular order.
5. Khun Jeed’s Rad-Na Yod Pak
Khun Jeed’s Rad-Na Yod Pak, as its name suggests, sells Rad-na, a Thai-style noodle dish with meat or seafood and vegetables in a gravy-like sauce. The restaurant is on Phang Nga Road in the very heart of Phuket Town and is easily noticeable from its bright yellow exterior. Opening hours are stated to be 09:00 – 20:30 but they often close earlier due to selling out during the lunch time. If you do happen to visit at lunch expect to wait a little longer than usual as they do get really busy.
4. Zen Zaab Boat Noodles
Zen Zaab Boat Noodles is the newest arrival to roadside restaurants in our top 5, but by far one of the most popular going by visitor numbers when we went. This restaurant offers Boat Noodles, a Thai street-food staple which are meaty, rich, full of succulent flavour, and most of all, popular and fun to eat.
Because they were originally served from boats floating in Bangkok’s extensive network of canals, is how boat noodles received their name. They differ from regular street noodles in that they’re served in small bite sized bowls – a practice that was formerly used so the noodles wouldn’t spill out of the bowl on the choppy canal.
3. Ko Ta Khao Man Gai
Ko Ta Khao Man Gai is an unassuming little place that you might easily miss unless you’re paying attention. The restaurant’s sign is written only in Thai, so don’t look for it by name. Once again, as its name suggests, it serves Khao Man Gai, boiled chicken with garlic rice, served with a sauce of ginger, garlic, chillies, and soy and accompanied by coriander, cucumber, spring onions and a bowl chicken soup. Khao Man Gai is one of the cheapest and best meals to be had in Thailand.
2. The Phad Thai Shop
Probably the best known roadside restaurant in our top 5 and a quick Google search of the name will tell you why. Although their menu has been extended and now includes a range of popular Thai dishes and noodles, Phad Thai is what this restaurant is known for. They have been serving Karon & Kata locals and tourists for over 14 years and the owner claims that 99% of visitors always come back.
1. Hoen Phu Chiang
Definitely the least known roadside restaurant in our top 5 and specialising in the hardest to find dish, Khao Soi, beef, pork or chicken in a red curry soup served with shallots, pickles, chilli oil, a piece of lime. Designed in a traditional Lanna style, Hoen Phu Chiang differs from our other top 5 roadside restaurants in that you don’t just go to eat and the venue is very different from the others. Here you can relax and enjoy your meal unhurried whilst listening to live music. An absolute must for lovers of Northern Thai cuisine and of true Thai style dining and hospitality.