Don’t worry, the classics will never fade. The food culture is too strong in Thailand for the familiar flavors of phad thai, green curry, and papaya salad to ever fall into the foreground. On the other hand, that doesn’t mean that there is any less susceptibility to food trends. Foods or dishes that come out of nowhere, spread like wildfire, and become vogue are always popping up. This used to happen more slowly and organically, but with social media’s world domination it can happen overnight.
Shabu | Cr. website matichon.co.th
For anyone who has spent an appreciable amount of time in Phuket, or Thailand for that matter, you will have noticed the soft spot Thai people have for soups. Of course, one of the most well-known and universally loved Thai comfort foods is the sweet and sour masterpiece tom yum. Sure, there are probably thousands of kwaytiow (noodle soup) stalls around the island, but there has been an explosion in shabu shabu restaurants in the past few years. They’re popping up all over the place and give you a window of opportunity, usually an hour and fifteen minutes or so, to stuff your face with as much meat, veggies, broth, and more as you can handle. They boast all sorts of goodies from Australian and Japanese beef, to tuna and salmon sashimi, and all sorts of sweet stuff.
Tonkatsu ramen | Cr. FB Hana cafe+ramen
Another soup trend that seems to be gaining in popularity is ramen. Quite a few places have emerged in the past few years around Phuket, especially specializing in Japanese-style ramen. Shops are gaining notoriety for the quality of their tonkatsu ramen. Tonkatsu (Japanese for pork bone) broth is a rich, savory soup base that is created by boiling pork bones for extended periods of time, sometimes up to 18 hours. The cloudy broth is then combined with ingredients like garlic, onion, spring onion, roasted or braised pork belly, sesame, seaweed, cabbage, and more. If you’ve never tried this kind of soup, it is highly recommended. Hana Cafe and Aogami Ramen, both in Phuket Town, offer excellent tonkatsu ramen.
Miang Pla Pow | Cr. magazine.foodpanda.co.th
Another more local-style cuisine that is having a moment is called miang pla pow – the literal translation of which is roasted fish wrapped in leaves. These restaurants specialize in barbecued fish, typically tilapia or mackerel, which has been stuffed with aromatic herbs and encrusted with salt. The salt helps to envelope the meat keeping the moisture in which results in juicy eating. You can recognize this type of restaurant by the tanks of live fish displayed beside a barbecue. It doesn’t get much fresher than that.
Miang Pla Pow | Cr. www.pim.in.th
The fish is served with dipping sauces, usually a chili-lime sauce called nah jim seafood and a sweeter peanut-based sauce called sauce tua. A large basket of fresh vegetables like cabbage, lettuce, long leaf cilantro, basil, and cucumber is included. Chunks of fish are loaded onto a leaf with a dab of sauce, folded into a bite-sized morsel, and devoured. Pretty straight forward, but you’ll find a delicate palette of flavors from the lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf, and more that was inside the fish when cooked combined with the sauces and textures of the fresh veggies. It’s a local favorite as it is tasty, inexpensive, and healthy.