Monday, 15 March 2010

Gastronomical Indulgence in Phuket

Phuket is not only about beaches, beautiful sceneries and wild outdoor adventures.  It is also a  gastronomical haven for food enthusiasts.  That’s why I especially my husband Frederick are captivated by this place (We shall return – that’s my husband’s promise).

Thai food is internationally famous.  There are lots of Thai restaurants and food manufacturers worldwide who are cashing out on the commercialization of Thai food. Personally, I love Thai food. It's  because of the unique blend of flavors and aroma in every dish.  We observed that Thai cooking like most Asian culture used a lot of spices and herbs, producing an almost perfect balance of  taste :  hot, sour, sweet and salty.  Thai dishes also are visually appealing, the aroma makes me salivate, the taste makes me crave for more, and definitely it always gives my tummy full satisfaction.

There’s a wide gamut of Thai restaurants and eateries at Patong beach from mobile food carts selling streetfoods like pancakes, corns, fried and grilled fish, squids, dried seafoods, chicken, and pork; to hawker food courts that offer variety of Thai, Chinese, Indian, muslim dishes; to restaurants that serve seafood buffets, beers, with a band singing in the background; up to  world-class fine dining restaurants that serve nouvelle cuisines and fine wines. Well we settled only with the first 3 coz we were on a budget.  There are also French, Italian, western, and other foreign restaurants aroung Patong that caters to those tourist who are missing their own home-food.

Oh, by the way, Thai food is influenced by different cultures – Western, Chinese, Malay, Muslim, Indian, and other cultures from its neighboring countries.  Actually Filipino food and Thai food have lots in common.

It was around 11AM when we arrived at our hotel in Patong beach and despite the heavy burger king breakfast meal we had at Changi airport before our flight, I am already hungry and so is Frederick.  I offered him the burgerking fries (what’s left of it) and he looked at me with disgust (as if I i'm gonna feed him some rubbish). Then he told me with conviction (actually, he demanded and obliged me)  “Dear, we are not going to eat in any fastfood (he was referring to KFC, burgerking, carl's Jr, or Mcdonald) or at starbucks  while we are here (in phuket)”. Surprised, I just stared at him and nod my head in agreement (well I am a fastfood eater or I Just cook at home  – that’s my Singapore life.  I only eat at hawker's foodcourts if I am forced to and if I don't have a choice.  Eating out in buffet restaurants is a different story though).  So for 4 days and 3 nights we are on a strict Thai diet. (oh except for our last day when I had subway's roasted pork sandwich for breakfast)

We had our first taste of Thai food at Jungceylon mall with a serving of flavorful Northern style pork curried noodles with coconut milk for only 60 Baht a bowl, Frederick zest up his with a squeeze of lemon, plus fried pig skin they call cab moo (20 Baht) as sidings (Chicharon in Filipino) – t’was really satisfying.  We also snacked on deep fried crispy, sweet and spicy chicken skin that we grabbed at 15 Baht from a food cart on our way to the beach.

spicy pork curry noodle with coconut milk


On our first night we had a candle light dinner in a classy open-air yet affordable restaurant that offer sea-food buffet along Bangla Road.  There are la diverese choices of fresh seafoods -  from salmon sashimi, other fishes, shrimp, crabs, squids.  There are also red meat - pork, beef, and chicken, and noodles, and veggies.  We get to choose the seafood or meat we want and have it grilled or cooked to our liking by the cook.  They serve pineapple, banana, watermelon, chocolate fondue for dessert.  It costed us around 800 baht per person and that included the drinks. The cooks and gals & guys waiting tables are all local except for the band playing on stage who are Filipinos and they play Filipino songs :-) Isn’t that awesome?

seafood buffet
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you pick your choice of seafood then have it grilled to your liking


ala shrimp sinigang w/ lime/lemon leaves


On the days that  followed, we enjoyed different Thai dishes. There’s tomyam (which is almost similar to our sinigang with an addition of lime leaves), Thai version of tempura, sweet and sour fish and pork and different kinds of curried dishes from yellow to orange to green curries.  And a lot more of fresh fish and other seafoods match with freshly squeezed fruit juices that Frederick loves to drink. And yes, we ended our second day with Smirnoff and Bacardi – with my husband passing out wehehehehe.

On our last night in Phuket, we gorged ourselves on streetfoods.  Mobile carts and street vendors offer a wide array of streetfoods that are almost similar to what we have in the Philippines (there were no balut, kwek kwek, mani, nor kalamares though).  Barbecued or fried pork and chicken (I like the sweet and spicy orange colored cripy fried pork with sesame seeds) , they also have this round sausages that taste like longganisa only that it’s mixed with rice stuffed inside the sausage casing (@ 1 Baht per small sausage).  My husband who is already disappointed for not finding any exotic food in Patong settled himself with a fried bird that he bought at 60 Baht per bird (my poor husband- he'd been asking locals around as to where we can eat exotic food).  With your 30 - 100 Baht you have a filled and satisfied stomach. By the way, a handful size of glutinous rice wrapped in plastic is sold at 5 Baht.  It goes well with the rest of the streetfood - yummmyyy

Streetfoods : Thai sausages that taste like longanisa


LEFT : crispy fried sweet & sour pork w/ sesame seeds - RIGHT : fried chicken skin


fried bird


We love the food in Thailand and we will definitely go back to savor it once more.

P.S. : when we talk of streetfoods, we are talking about minimal hygiene, so better come with a thick and strong stomach :-)

- Sharosem (15March2010)