Recently, I spent about 9 days in Thailand… did you know that? Anyways, the way that our trip was set up, me and some fellas rented a villa in Patong, Phuket. Its called the Pra Nang Villa. If you have the chance, go here and rent this place, you will not be disappointed.
Now, I was brand new to this whole world traveling thing, but fortunately, I was traveling with some global veterans and they had the drop on how to do it when you give the passport a workout. The villa rental was their idea, they had done it before in several countries, and when you divide it by 5 or 6 people (we went as 5) the daily rate ends up working out to less than you would if you did the hotel room thing.
Luckily for us, there was even more involved with renting the villa in Thailand.
With the rental, we also had access to a driver for 5 hours a day, a house manager and staff where the manager played our guide basically, and the live in house staff of 3 maintained the house while we were there. We’re talking making breakfast, cleaning rooms, setting up house dinners if we wanted, and so much more. Basically, on call for the renters, during their stay.
So, anyways, from the moment that we got into town, and the manager/guide was asking me what we wanted to do and what we wanted to eat, everything that came out of my mouth started with “local.” For me, there is no point of spending money, flying to some crazy destination in another country, to mess around and eat the same stuff that I could make or go buy at home. So, I was down to try all of the good random stuff that you see on shows like No Reservations or any of those wild shows on the food network.
Now, lets be clear, I’m not going to be going around the world to throw down some balut or anything that wild, but I’m not scared to try something that looks a little bit shady.
Our guide, from Phuket City, was a little bit on the cautious side and not really down with giving me the goods because in her mind (and her words) she’s seen it before… Americans come to Thailand all big and bad wanting to eat “real” Thai food, and as soon as a they get a taste of “Thai spicy” its the end of their trip. Not necessarily a literal sense, but definitely in the figurative and physical sense. I can handle it though. So she said, at some point she would take me somewhere that I’d like.
This was that place. I don’t know the name of it. I don’t know all of the stuff we were eating by name, but I do know that this was hands down the best meal that I’d had, and there were two things I ate here that were hands down the best thing I’ve tasted in years. I’ve contacted her, she’s called Jinda, and when she hits me back I will add names to all of this and try and get my google maps on to show you where this place is.
I say this was my No Reservations moment, because it quite literally was something that was ripped out of the pages of Anthony Bourdain. After a long day of going to check out a ginourmous marble Buddha built on top of a mountain, Jinda told us that we should try out this place that her and her boyfriend go to all the time. Its about 10 minutes from where they live and we thinks we would like it.
This was about 4 days in, so at this point she had a pretty good feel for what I was all about and what the temperature of the team was at the time. Ironically, not all of us were there, but the three of us were down and agreed to make the trip.
This was the kitchen….. A little scary at first, but look, I eat at Mexican restaurants in the states that get B and C grades from the health department, so I’m not scared of a little dirt in my food. One of the guys in the group tapped out, because is his words, “Would you eat at a D grade restaurant in Cali?” …. and the obvious answer is no.
But we weren’t in Cali. And at this point I was in Phuket mode. (See what I did there?) But he wasn’t with it after he got a shot of the kitchen, he wanted some McD’s in a bad way and got that later.*
I can’t blame him, but I was only going to be in Phuket this time.. who knows when I’d be back.
This little dude was one of the chefs…
One of the best things about this situation was that the restaurant was closed when we rolled up… and this is where being the loud Americans kind of paid off. Our guide talked to the lady that was running the joint and since they would be opening up in an hour or so and were just getting the place ready for the night, she agreed to let us sit down and get a meal.
What I learned while I was there, is that its very much a rural area and working town, and no one does ‘lunch’ there. All of the restaurants open at around 6pm, because thats when everyone is done with work and go out for family dinners. We showed up around 5.
This was Tom Yum Soup. And hands down the best soup I’ve ever had at a restaurant.. and maybe the best thing that I have eaten as an adult male. It was spicy and hearty and had scrimps and talked to me the entire time I was eating it.
This was fried rice with prawns.
This was a pepper chicken dish. (I could be wrong about that one)
This was a fried fish in curry sauce.
And this was the second best thing I have had in about 10 years. It was fish and coconut and something and something, steamed in a banana leaf. It was offing unbelievable. I wish I remembered the proper name for it, but Jinda will let me know.
There was crab too. Seasoned heavily with black pepper and some kind of sauce. I didn’t take a picture of that. But trust me when I tell you that it was incredible.
And this was the aftermath…..
The irony, for me, after each meal that we ate like kings was two things. For one, this meal fed 5 people, drinks included and all sorts of great service and stuff like that and it was less than 2000 baht. That translates to less than $60 bucks USD. For 5 people. And there was food left after we were done. 5 people. 60 bucks. and that is INCLUDING a nice handsome tip for the people who hooked us up. And from the size of the dishes, they were serving us waaaaay more than they would usually serve I think IMO.
The other thing was that after eating all of this food, I wasn’t stuffed. Every meal that we had, even though I ate like it was my last meal, I noticed that although I was ordering curry this and curry that, it was not as heavy as the Thai food and curry stuff that I get in the states because they aren’t making everything with coconut cream or heavy cream or putting all kinds of extra stuff in the food. Most of it was prepared like it was supposed to be.
I enjoyed this and will remember this meal for the rest of my life.
* We later found a D’s and dude ordered chicken nuggets, fries, a Big Mac, a strawberry shake and something else I think. He enjoyed it, but I know he didn’t enjoy it as much as I did.
* This is Jinda by the way…. from earlier in the day. I wish I’d gotten a picture with her and her boyfriend Din. They were awesome people!