Join us as we explore Phuket Town, and discover the culinary gems that it offers!
Phuket Town: A Culture Hub
Long before Phuket became a popular tourist destination filled with tourist attractions and souvenirs, Phuket was an island of rubber trees, tin-mines, and multi-cultural merchants. With such a range of resources and people, Thailand’s largest island used to attract entrepreneurs as far away as the Arabian Peninsula, China, India and Portugal.
With such a wide variety of people inhabiting Phuket, this meant that there was a colourful blend of cultural influences. This can be seen in the architecture of the town, a reminder of the island’s cultural and historical soul. The streets are heaving with Sino-Portuguese architecture housing a variety of different coffee shops, galleries and wonderful little inexpensive restaurants, all great finds within Phuket Town.
Yet, the fusion of cultures is best described with the Chinese Taoist shrines just peeking down the alleyways, incense smoke seeping out of them; accessible from the streets leading to the cafes and shops mentioned earlier. Phuket Town sees culture as a commodity and attracts a very hip crowd, as in spite of the cultural bubble that Phuket Town is in, it has an infusion of current art, music and food.
Dine Your Way Through Phuket Town!
Kopitiams tend to be a tradition amongst Singaporeans and Malays, but the Hokkien people emigrated in mass numbers during the 19th century to Phuket. (On a side note, this is why whilst you walk around Phuket Town; you will see a lot of signs not only in Thai, but also in Chinese).
The Kopitiam is owned by the same family who not only own the famous herb shop next door, but also own the Wilai Restaurant opposite, which is most known for having the ‘secret’ passage that leads to the Shrine of the Serene Light.
The Kopitiam has kept most of it’s original charm, with the decor staying true to it’s roots as a turn of the 20th century shop house- with a stone floor and wooden beams across the ceiling. The historical nature of the Kopitiam can be further seen as you are waiting for your chicken Penang curry (a typically Malaysian dish), as there are old photographs of the ‘old’ Phuket, when there used to be a ferry line as a means to travel between the island and the mainland, and the tin mines.
Although the menu is limited, all the food that is served here is tasty, especially with an iced coffee.
Abdul’s Roti Shop is located in Thalang Road, which is considered the heart of the old Phuket, with small family run businesses, lots of small shops and plenty of pride shown by the locals that have resided there their whole lives.
It is very clear upon entering the Roti Shop that this truly is a family run establishment, as there is a huge sign with the words “Abdul= 74 years Old. 7th Generation” emblazoned across it. The art of making this delicious roti has therefore been passed down from generation to generation and it is truly an honour to taste what is not only a delicious food from the Muslim culture, but also a tradition amongst this family.
It is also apparent, like in most shop houses, that this isn’t just a roti shop, but someone’s home. You will often see family relatives popping in and out of this shop house, watching TV, and basically going about their daily life whilst you happily tuck into your roti.
The roti can come with either chicken, beef or fish. However, as this is a Roti shop run by Muslims, do not ask for pork- or a beer for that matter!
Not only are there savoury rotis for sale, but you can also get dessert rotis, that are accompanied with sweeter sides such as condensed milk- this may sound strange but also it is truly delicious! Definitely a must try, even if it’s just to see the roti freshly made up front near the roadside. Visiting Abdul’s Roti Shop is definitely a true cultural experience.
However, if you are not in the mood for more local foods, then there is always the irresistibly intimate five-table La Gaetana, which serves Italian food. Because of its small size and it’s popularity in spite of there not being huge signs to advertise, it is advised that you should book in order to avoid disappointment.
Definitely on the pricier side compared to the Kopitiam and Abdul’s Roti Shop, La Gaetana has a superb Italian menu, serving delectable yet interesting dishes such as duck breast carpaccio and osso bucco. Authentic to Italian cuisine, but set in a very traditional Thai street, this restaurant will surprise you.
If you are looking for a fusion of both Eastern and Western cuisines, then look no further than Siam Indigo, which is quite possibly the most stylish gem, which can be found in Phuket Town.
Set in an 80-year-old Sino-Portuguese relic, this restaurant specialises in Thai food, but with a French-International twist. Although this is not a place to go based on its wine selection, the main dishes, although not extensive, are divine.
In search of accommodation near Phuket Town? Check out these lovely villas in Cape Panwa!