Appetising, tangy, spicy, refreshing, sweet and savoury are just a handful of words that are used to describe the diverse flavour profiles of Thai fare. A vacation on this scenic island is not complete without sampling well-loved Thai classics, so make sure you go local and indulge in a Thai feast during your holiday. To start off your culinary adventure, we bring you a round up of eateries with a reputation for dishing out good ol’ local delights:
- Blue Elephant
Blue Elephant offers a spectacular, date-worthy setting ideal for a special night out. Set in a striking Sino-Portuguese mansion, the restaurant is lavishly furnished with beautiful arches and imposing columns, well-placed lighting, teakwood finishings and checkered tiles. Much attention is paid to details here, as seen from the exquisite flatware laid out for diners.
Diners will find a selection of classics and fusion cuisine on the menu. The khao yam, a famous southern Thai salad, incorporates a diversity of ingredients, and will serve well as a refreshing starter. Other items worth a try include the yam makua doi kam, a layered dish containg eggplant, mushrooms and seafood, massaman curry and seng wa goong pla duk foo, a hard-to-find dish offering a myriad tastes and textures.
- Mama Jin
Nestled amidst a row of beahcfront eateries near to the lake at Karon Park, Mama Jin is the best bet for diners who are on the prowl for authentic Thai fare at Karon Beach. The restaurant’s nondescript storefront setting may create the impression that it is similar to other tourist traps lining the street, but trust us when we tell you that this could not be further from the truth.
Diners have enthused that the dishes at Mama Jin’s are authentic, inexpensive and satisfying. The extensive menu contains an overwhelming number of dishes, but we would recommend that you skip the western fare, and delve right into ordering the Thai items. Try the shrimp toast, a decadent dish of fried toast topped off with tender chunks of shrimp, the Thai-style omelette, as well as good ol’ classics like the glass noodles soup, phad thai and tom yum dishes.
- Raya Restaurant
The atmospheric setting at Raya Restaurant harkens back to the days of the old. Set in a well-preserved Sino-Portugese house, the interiors feature quaint wood-frame windows, mosaic tile flooring and display cabinets filled with fine china and antique pieces.
The alluring setting is just a part of Raya’s charm. The restaurant also dishes out a range of sumptuous fare, such as a tantalising crab curry with rice vermicelli, tender braised pork belly, fried chicken with crispy ginger and succulent prawns in tamarind sauce.
- Natural Restaurant
Natural Restaurant boasts an eclectic setting that will charm the socks off vacation makers. Step into the restaurant, and you will find an array of fish tanks masquerading as television sets, striking water fountains and a toy model train track laid out within its spacious compounds. The interiors are adorned with plenty of tropical blooms, creating the illusion that one is dining in a lush, verdant forest.
With more than two hundred dishes to choose from on the extensive menu, deciding on the dishes to fill up your dinner table is a tough affair. If you are mind-boggled by the diversity of choices available, stick to traditional favourites such as the green curry, phad thai and tom yum soups. The shrimp pancake with plum sauce serves well as a starter, and the steamed sea bass in lemon sauce is a good alternative for diners who are not keen on tucking into deep-fried fare.
- Siang Khaen
An array of scrumptious Isaan fare, friendly service and reasonable prices keeps a crowd of diners coming back to Siang Khaen for more. Often packed with a good crowd, the restaurant bustles with a lively buzz during mealtimes.
Browse through the comprehensive menu, and you will find a good selection of northeastern dishes. If this is the first time that you are sampling Isaan cuisine, you will not go wrong with ordering the sticky rice, naam tok moo, a dish of grilled pork marinated in a flavourful sauce, som tam, a spicy papaya salad, tom saeb moo sap, a spicy soup with minced pork and plaa saba yang, a grilled mackerel dish.
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