Phuket (ภูเก็ต) is an island province in the south of Thailand within the Andaman Sea.
While many people think of Phuket (ภูเก็ต) for its world famous beaches and relaxing resorts, when I think about Phuket, as you probably can already guess, I think about the food and restaurants.
Due to the island’s strategic location and its lengthy history of trade with China, India, and Portugal, Phuket is one of Thailand’s most culturally diverse destinations (islands).
In Phuket you’ll find marvelous southern Thai food, Malay food, Chinese food, and even Indian food. The island is also blessed with access to an abundance of tropical fruits and vegetables and fresh seafood. Additionally, Phuket is one of Thailand’s most vegetarian friendly destinations, so if you’re vegetarian, you’ll have lots to choose from.
However, in the major beach towns and villages, unfortunately there’s not a lot of local Phuket cuisine available, and most restaurants are overpriced and sub-standard.
But the good news is, within Phuket Town, there is some amazing local Phuket restaurants and food, so most of what I’ve covered here on this page, are restaurants concentrated in and around Phuket town.
So for the best food and Phuket restaurants, it’s best to spend sometime in Phuket town. Even if you’re just taking a holiday for a few days to Phuket and want to get as much beach-time in as possible, if you want to eat local Phuket cuisine, definitely spend some time exploring Phuket.
I really love Phuket town, for the diversity, and the incredibly delicious food waiting to be eaten. Now let’s jump straight into some of the best local Phuket restaurants:
Local Street Food
Lock Tien (ลกเที้ยน) is a famous restaurant in Phuket, and many Thais from Bangkok that visit, would consider this place a must-eat. The restaurant is sort of like a semi-indoor food court, with a variety of permanent food carts set up around the court serving different dishes. You still order off a menu, and once you place your order, each vendor will deliver you your food. The most famous food to eat at Lock Tien (ลกเที้ยน) is mee leung pad Hokkien sai kai (หมี่เหลืองผัดฮกเกี้ยนใส่ใข่), yellow noodles fried up the Hokkien way with an egg on top. The noodles were smoky and salty, and the egg provided and extra kick of richness. I thought it was an awesome bowl of noodles in Phuket.
Located right within the old town portion of Phuket, Yoy Pochana (ร้านย้อยโภชนา) is one of the many classic Thai Chinese Phuket restaurants that serves both authentic Teochew style dishes and Chinese dishes mixed with southern Thai ingredients and flavors. Probably my favorite dish I ordered was the goong pad sauce makam (กุ้งผัดซอสมะขาม), succulent shrimp stir fried with tangy tamarind sauce. I loved everything about this restaurant from the food to the no-frills atmosphere, to its peaceful location within old town Phuket.
My wife Ying told me we needed to check out this restaurant knowing it was going to be a place I was going to love. She’s always right. Hong Khao Tom Pla (ฮ้องข้าวต้มปลา) is a Thai Chinese restaurant that has some serious character – it’s the type of restaurant were the chef yells commands to his staff, always a loud and action packed environment. When we ate their, we tried to order some of their specialities, including tom yum pla nam sai (ต้มยำปลาน้ำใส), which was different and very unique, and probably my favorite dish of this restaurant in Phuket, talay pad pongari (ทะเลผัดผงกะหรี่), a mix of seafood in yellow curry with egg. All the food was delicious, and I loved the environment and action packed atmosphere as well.
Located right across the street from the big morning Kaset Market (below) is a Thai Halal restaurant called Krua Charifa (ครัวชารีฟ๊ะฮ์) that specializes in Thai and Malay food. It’s a khao gaeng (rice and curry) restaurant, so as soon as you arrive, you’ll be able to pick and choose which dishes to order. One of the best dishes I ate at Krua Charifa (ครัวชารีฟ๊ะฮ์) was gaeng gari pla (แกงกะหรี่ปลา), a Malay style fish curry that was teeming with spices, and flavored with curry leaves. Also, don’t miss the Phuket salad (Yam Phuket (ยำภูเก็ต) that includes a good mixture of green mango, coconut, and dried fish. Krua Charifa (ครัวชารีฟ๊ะฮ์) is one of my favorite restaurants for local Malay food in Phuket. This place is also Halal.
Among the diversity of foods available in Phuket, the small island is also home to some of the best Thai vegetarian food you’ll find in Thailand. Located near the Jui Tui shrine, along Ranong Road, you’ll find a nice concentration of Thai vegetarian restaurants (known in thai as (อาหารเจ ahaan jay). Jiya Chai (ร้านเจี๊ยะฉ่าย), just like other rice and curry restaurants in Phuket, has all the dishes prepared, and you just walk up to the front and order whatever looks good. I would especially recommend the coconut milk based curries, which are rich and creamy, and full of spice. If you’re vegetarian or not, you should try Thai vegetarian food when you’re in Phuket!
Phuket, as you’ve already seen from some of the Phuket restaurants listed on this page, has a strong influence from China, similar to Penang in Malaysia. One of the many Chinese influenced foods meals that’s common to eat for breakfast or brunch in Phuket is dim sum. I have to be honest and say that I have tried dim sum all over Thailand and have never been impressed – to me it just can’t stand up to the quality of dim sum in Hong Kong. But that being said it’s still fun to eat dim sum in Phuket, and Boon Rad Dim Sum 1 (บุญรัตน์ติ่มซำ 1) is a popular restaurant. I especially liked the mushroom fish balls.
Great deals on hotels:
One of the best places to try local cuisine anywhere you go in Thailand is at the morning fresh wet market, and one of the central largest markets in Phuket town is called Talad Sod Kaset. Along with having all the ingredients you can imagine that are used for local cooking, there are also dozens of stalls serving Thai sweets and snacks, stalls serving up southern Thai curries, and a few breakfast restaurants that serve rice congee and Phuket style dim sum. I also had one of the best roti mataba’s, a roti stuffed with egg and spices, that I’ve ever had in Thailand. At night, there are a number of street food stalls that set up on the outskirts of the market, but it’s much better in the early morning from about 6 am – 8 am.
In Phuket there’s a famous snack called khanom ahpong (ขนมอาโป๊ง). It’s sort of like a crispy rolled up crepe, but very very thin, and to me it almost has a fortune cookie flavor to it. It’s a very popular snack known in Phuket, and many Thais that come to visit Phuket Town, don’t miss it, so there’s often quite a long waiting line to get your order – though it moves pretty fast. While you can find khanom ahpong (ขนมอาโป๊ง) through the island now at street food stalls, the original place to get your crispy Phuket style crepes is at Ahpong Mae Sunee (อาโป๊ง แม่สุณี) in the heart of Old Town.
Undoubtedly one of the most well known restaurants that serves Phuket cuisine in the town is Raya Restaurant. The restaurant is housed in a beautifully preserved Sino-Portuguese home, with original antique decorations. Their signature dish, and a Thai Chinese dish that’s unique to Phuket, is moo hong (หมูฮ้อง), a braised chunks of pork in a rich and flavorsome pepper sauce. I loved the moo hong (หมูฮ้อง), it was rich and succulent and incredibly flavorful. I also really enjoyed a few of their other dishes, and a few of them I thought could have been better. Overall, Raya (ร้านระย้า) is well worth a meal for a high end Phuket cuisine experience.
Housed within the Governor’s Mansion, one of the most well preserved and beautiful colonial buildings in Old Town Phuket, Blue Elephant is both a cooking school and a restaurant. I haven’t been able to try the cooking class yet, but I did have an outstanding lunch there. The gaeng boo bai chaploo kab sen mee (แกงปูใบชะพลู กับเส้นหมี่), a curry of boneless nuggets of juicy sweet crab in coconut milk with wild betel leaves served with thin rice vermicelli noodles was almost too delicious to be true. Blue Elephant serves a variety of dishes, some of which have Thai Royal influence and are rare to find elsewhere. For a high end meal in a beautiful mansion environment, Blue Elephant is an excellent restaurant.
As I continue to eat at more Phuket restaurants and continue to blog, I’ll be updating this page about more places to eat.
I hope you enjoy your time in Phuket, and especially that you love the food!
– Mark Wiens
Are you looking for a hotel in Phuket? When I travel in Thailand, I book my hotels on Agoda.com. If you use that link to search for hotels, not only will you find great deals, but at NO extra charge to you, I’ll get a commission, which will help me to continue blogging about Thai food. Thank you in advance!