It didn’t take me long to discover that, unless you’re a fan of mediocre Swedish food or bland Thai/Asian, you’ll find little of interest to eat on the island of Phuket. The exception to this was Phuket Town, by far the most interesting and atmospheric place on the island, and virtually forgotten by the hordes of tourists who cling to the beaches. I was surprised to find that many of the traditional dishes you’ll find there are nearly identical to those of Penang. This may not come as a big surprise to those familiar with history though, as there was apparently a great deal of trade between Phuket and the former Straits Settlements of Penang, Malacca and Singapore, and all of these areas were populated by similar Chinese ethnic groups.
And it is Chinese cuisine, often with a Southeast Asiann twist, that constitutes much of Phuket Town’s traditional food. An example of this is mee hoon, a noodle dish known in Penang as bee hoon:
As well as lor bak:
Deep-fried porky savouries served with a dipping sauce almost identical to that which tops the Malaysian dish rojak. The bits at the top of the plate were nearly identical to hoy jor, and were really delicious.
There was pretty good dim sum:
And another interesting dish of Chinese origin, although I don’t recall having seen it in Penang, is something called oh taao:
Somewhat similiar to hoy thawt or or suan, this dish combines chunks of taro, a batter, tiny oysters, egg, a deep red chili and a greenish garlic sauce, and my favourite part, crumbled bits of deep-fried pork rind!
There’s a palpable Muslim influence in the city, and on several occasions I had some very tasty roti, both as a savoury breakfast (served with a small bowl of curry), or a sweet snack:
Just outside the city, Ko Sireh is also home to the island’s biggest fishing port:
where every morning you can see heaps of interesting looking fish (and on one occasion, three very large sharks!) being unloaded. Not far from the fishing port I found a cool little cafe that served Thai-style coffee and lots of old-school sweets and snacks:
Despite how the look, many of them were just as savoury as they were sweet, and made a wonderful breakfast.
And lastly, if you’re looking for something a bit more formal, you can’t go wrong with Siam Indigo:
a restaurant housed in an beautiful 80 year old Sino-Portuguese building that does some excellent Thai, Thai-influenced and locally-influenced food.
The entire photoset can be seen here.