Eat, Drink and Be Merry – Thai Style

I have decided to devote an entire post to the Thai cuisine because it was some of the best food I have ever had in my life. I also needed a way to justify the obscene amount of photos I took of food while there. Seriously guys, I have more food photos than beach photos.  As soon as we got settled in our hostel, we decided we needed some refueling. Having only just arrived, and not being very familiar with the area, we decided to stick close to the hostel. Literally, we could see the hostel from the patio of the restaurant. It was a small restaurant called Sala Bua, and there was only one other patron. I’d only had Thai food once or twice before, so the whole menu was pretty new to me. I opted for a traditional Thai dish. And by traditional, I mean I’d heard of it before. I ordered the shrimp pad thai, and it did not disappoint. It was like heaven in my mouth. I can’t remember what Joe ordered (I was too busy having a relationship with my meal to pay attention to him), but I know we both enjoyed our food so much that we intended to go back. Multiple times. Unfortunately, it was not to be. But we’ll always have the memories of our first Thai meal… For dinner on our first evening, we asked our very friendly hostel manager to recommend a seafood restaurant. She had her husband (also the hostel taxi driver) take us to a place in the middle of nowhere. Seriously, our driver got lost on more than one occasion, and at one point I was pretty sure we were headed somewhere the likes of which horror films are made. We eventually reached an open air restaurant located on a waterfront of some sort. It was really dark, so it’s pretty hard to say whether it was the ocean or just a really big pond. I like to pretend is was on the ocean, and it’s usually best to just go with it. Everything on the menu sounded delicious, and we finally narrowed it down to lobster and jumbo prawns. It was the kind of restaurant where you get to pick your food out from the tank. After much debate, we selected a worthy opponent and marked it for death. And it was…wait for it… A. May. Zing. We couldn’t believe how much tasty food we’d gotten so cheap. Then the bill came and we realized we’d made some pretty egregious calculation errors. Let’s just say neither one of us should be trusted to do math without adult supervision.
On day two, we met Joe’s parents at their hotel, the Andaman Seaview, and ate lunch there. I can’t remember the name of the dish I ordered, but I enjoyed it so much that in three days I tried all three versions of it. And all were delectable. All four of us liked the food there so much, that we ate there several times during our stay. I also had a cocktail in a dragon fruit. It was actually kind of weird, but it looked super awesome, so I felt pretty good about it on the whole. And it was the first of many cocktails inside of fruit to be consumed that week. That night we had dinner at the restaurant next door to our hostel. The food was good, but it was  probably the least memorable meal from our trip. Although I do recall that you could order “Amerigan Fried Rice,” whatever that might be…
Day three included lunch at the Andaman Seaview again, with the second variation of day two’s delightful dish. That evening, thanks to some skillful internet searching on the part of Joe’s dad, we enjoyed dinner at the After Beach Bar, a reggae themed restaurant on a hilltop overlooking Kata Beach. We arrived shortly before sunset and enjoyed a round of beverages (mine a Mai Tai in a pineapple) while taking in the sunset and waiting for our food. I ordered a shrimp dish of some fashion, which was kind of a trend for the duration of our trip. But really, how often can you get shrimp dishes that cheap? I had to take advantage of it. I did, however, object to Joe’s mom’s dinner that evening – a fish with the head still on. She claims it was delicious, but I just can’t eat anything that is still looking at me.

On day four we had lunch at – you guessed it! The Andaman Seaview. For dinner we headed up to the Kata Beach area once again, to a restaurant called Lucky Tom’s, which is apparently quite popular with tourists. It was a tiny place, and they had it packed to the gills. There were lots of interesting sounding dishes on the menu, but I went with a trusty shrimp dish. Joe and his dad were a little more adventurous. They ordered a curry that was served in a coconut and stir fried shark. I tried a little of each. I wasn’t a huge fan of the curry, but the shark was exquisite. I have never had meat that melted in my mouth like the shark did. I recommend going to Lucky Tom’s for this dish alone. Although everything we ordered that night was delicious. After dinner, Joe and I decided to check out a bar we’d passed earlier that day called Dino Bar. We’d been told that sometimes they have a small elephant wandering out front, and apparently we hadn’t had our fill of elephants yet.  We were in luck, and were able to pet and feed the little guy. Then we headed to the bar for a couple of drinks whose colors were so unnatural that it should have been off-putting, but really it made hanging out at a bar where the staff dressed like Fred Flintsone that much more fun. I thought it was a fun, kitschy little place and wanted to eat dinner there one night, but Joe informed me I was wrong and dinner there was not going to happen.  C’est la vie.

On day five we took the boat cruise from hell out to Phi Phi Island where we had the worst food of the entire trip, and probably some of the worst food I’ve ever had. All I can tell you about the boat cruises out to Phi Phi are – don’t do it! Totally not worth the time or money. That night, Joe and I had dinner at the Karon Hut. The food was amazing, but the service was awful! One table ordered, ate and left before anyone even came to talk to us! It took a good 30 minutes for us to even get drinks. Seriously. We almost walked out. Joe was ready to, but I really wanted my cocktail in a pineapple that I’d ordered. Fortunately, he’s pretty good at dealing with my irrational nature. All in all, the day was kind of a wash.

The last couple of days of our trip were a national Thai holiday – Buddha’s birthday. And apparently you aren’t allowed to purchase alcohol on those days. We had no idea, because we had no problem getting served on day five, until we tried to go to 7-11 and buy a couple of beers to take down to the beach. Apparently restaurants make concessions for foreigners since Buddha’s not our guy. But all of the bars were closed. So we ended up going back to our hostel, where the hostel managed gave us some beer that we had to keep concealed in case the cops came by. Since we couldn’t leave the hostel area, we ended up hanging out on the patio with some awesome tourists from Holland and taught them how to play redneck poker.

On our last day (still Buddha’s bday), we had lunch at Sofia Restaurant and Cafe where we tried our luck ordering beer. They served it to us, but they put it in little, dixie-style coffee cups and we had to hide the bottles under the table. Please, try not to be jealous of how classy we are. For food, we ordered some great curry, spring rolls and *gasp* another shrimp dish. Although we were very tempted to order the Swedish Breakfast, which apparently consists of “2 Aspirins served with a glass of water.” Sounds mouthwatering… For our last Thai meal, we headed to a restaurant that we’d passed by several times and kept saying, “We should stop here sometime.” So we finally did. The restaurant was called 2Gether (Anyone else having U+Me= Us (Calculus) flashbacks right now?) and owned by a really friendly Swedish guy. As it was low season, the restaurant was pretty slow, so he came out and joined our table for a bit. We had a lovely conversation and he recommended some great dishes. I decided to end it with the same dish I started with – shrimp pad thai. The owner sent out some complimentary spring rolls that were almost as delicious as the ones my Vietnamese neighbor used to make when I was a kid, and that’s a pretty big feat. Hers are the best spring rolls I’ve ever had. Somehow, the guys managed to have enough room for dessert. But neither of them ordered anything that was up my ally, so while they looked delicious, I have no idea whether they actually were or not. The whole trip was super amazing and went by way too quickly. I can’t wait to go back for a lot of reasons, but the food is one of the biggest. However, I’m a little concerned that authentic Thai food may have ruined me for American style Thai food. I guess we’ll find out in a few weeks when I head home…

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