Top Dishes to Eat in Phuket
Phuket cuisine is a melting pot of Hokkien and Cantonese Chinese flavors, Malay and Baba-Nyonya dishes and Southeast Asian and Chinese influences. Wondering what to try first? Here are some ideas:
Start with the national dish of Thailand, tom yum goong. You’ll dive into bowls of lemongrass, lime leaves, galangal (similar to ginger) and shallots, married with chilis and fish sauce, jumbo shrimp (goong) and mushrooms. This iconic soup is both spicy hot and sour and makes a great appetizer or even a full meal if paired with rice or another small dish. For a soup that’s just as traditional, but a bit tamer, order tom kha gai (chicken in coconut soup).
You’ve surely eaten pad thai at home, but it’ll never taste better than when prepared fresh in Phuket. While it has many variations here and abroad, you’ll always find noodles, tofu (or other protein), bean sprouts, onion and peanuts. Best pad Thai in Phuket? It’s arguably at the Pad Thai Shop on a back road of Karon Beach – it’s old fashioned, hyper local and always delicious.
This green papaya salad is a fresh and fantastic palate cleanser, made from green papaya, chili, lime, fish sauce and palm sugar, and often crab, tomato, beans and carrots. From the Issan region in northeast Thailand originally, the dish has seen regional differences over the years. While the sweet- and sourness may differ depending on where you are and who you order it from, you can reliably depend on some heat. Bulk it up with barbecued chicken and sticky rice.
Satiate your hunger with a rich and sweet green chicken curry brimming with coconut milk, eggplant, bamboo shoots, galangal, lemongrass, coriander and sweet basil.
Don’t overlook kao phad, which at first may look like your standard fried rice. However, with its variety of ingredients, it can be quite a filling dish, and customized to your liking. Choose from meat (usually shrimp or chicken), eggs, onion, cilantro, garlic, tomatoes – even a side of chili.
The ever-popular Hokkien-style noodles are flash fried with seafood, pork, greens and a thick broth. The local secret? Ask for yours with an egg.
Best Street Food in Phuket
Go beyond the sit-down restaurants of Phuket’s upscale resorts and venture out into the streets for a satisfying taste of the town. You’ll find authentic satays, salads, stir-fries and even ice cream sandwiches from friendly vendors at reasonable prices.
You can’t go wrong with traditional noodle soup. Broth with egg or rice noodles, as well as meat or fish and vegetables can be doctored up with ground chili flakes, fish sauce and chili in vinegar.
Pick up a skewer (or three) of moo ping, marinated grilled pork. After its marination in fish sauce, palm sugar and coconut milk, the meat is deliciously tender and sticky. It’s actually a popular on-the-go breakfast for many Thailand residents.
Grab a sweet or savory Thai- and Muslim-style pancake for breakfast or dessert. The most common variation is stuffed with banana slices, smothered in condensed milk and cut into squares.
For breakfast in Phuket, dig into these little bundles of sticky rice noodles, served with everything from beef, chicken and fish curries to radishes, bean sprouts and green beans. It’s a delightful melding of tastes and textures. Order like a local and ask for nam ya pu, a coconut milk-based crab soup, with herbs, vegetables and fruit (it has a little heat, so keep that in mind!).
For a light snack, pick up a haw mok – steamed and curried crab (or other fish) mousse. Each little tart-like serving is served in a banana leaf wrapper.
This creamy dessert is Phuket street food favorite. It’s not the ice cream sandwich you’re used to, however. Your choice of ice cream is scooped into a hot dog bun! Popular additional toppings include banana sweet taro, sweet corn, raisins, peanuts, sticky rice, jackfruit and candied palm seeds.
(Another favorite dessert is oh eaw, or shaved ice. Made from banana starch and kidney beans, a typical Thai dessert ingredient, this refreshing, brightly colored, super-sweet treat is a local fave.)
The batter for these thick, fried pancakes consists of egg, taro root, deep-fried pork rinds and oysters. It’s a typical street food that can trace its roots back to Chinese tin miners.
Where to Eat in Phuket
At its best after sunset, Bangla Road is friendly, lively and full of dining options, from pubs to restaurants to street vendors. If you head to Soi Patong Resort, between Patong Resort and Bangla Road, you’ll find numerous restaurants. In Soi Lao, you’ll find vendors selling fresh seafood – just pull up a chair at the one of the tables lining the alley.
Karon Beach’s Center region offers a variety of accommodations options with onsite dining restaurants. If you’d like to go offsite, head north of Karon Circle or to the beach road between Karon and Kata for great Thai seafood. Aroona Plaza also offers a variety of independent eateries with local cuisine at reasonable prices.
Head for Phuket Walking Street, held every Sunday evening along Thalang Road. You’ll find an enticing blend of Thai, Chinese and Indian food stalls, giving you the opportunity to try local culinary specialties and pick up a few handcrafted souvenirs along the way. There are toy stalls, musical performances and more entertainment, making it a festive, family-friendly atmosphere.
Find several restaurants along the southern and middle part of Kamala Beach. Take the time to go a bit off the beach to the “beach road” for even more variety.