To sum up food in Thailand I will just say this: WOW!
Not because everything is mind-blowingly good, or because it is all so cheap, or because they are soooo many choices….
But, mainly because everywhere I went in Thailand I found a combination of all three!
To be fair, the topic of eating in Thailand is massively broad! So broad, in fact, that one could live here a lifetime and still leave something out when writing an overview. So, that said, I will speak specifically on the places where I stayed during my month training BJJ in Thailand (which encompasses a fairly decent assortment of places where the BJJ’er might go).
Let’s start with the first stop on the YoloBJJ Thailand Tour:
Bangkok, hands down, had the cheapest food of any of my stops in Thailand! It was not abnormal to roll up to the local sidewalk eatery and have a full meal (curry and rice or noodles and chicken along with a Lg. beer) for less than $2.50 (U.S $ equivalent). Or, alternatively, if you just wanted a snack, you could just grab a stick or two of Satay chicken (or pork) for 10 THB/ ea. (about .25 cents US). It was a great way to fuel up after a tough training session at Arete BJJ!
Menus were large (plenty of choices) and generally inexpensive no matter where you sat down to eat. Drink selections were good for soft drinks, juices and beers. Nice!
YoloBJJ overall scores (1-10, 10 being “best score”)?
Variety: 10 – Food everywhere! Street-side diners right next door to each other all the way down the street! The selection is enormous…not to mention the “Menus that Homer wrote”!
Quality: 8 (There was a moment when I questioned whether or not the chicken satay was actually chicken)
Next Up on our stop……
Chalong district: (I.e. Soi Tai Ied – fitness central, Phuket)
Disclaimer: I don’t think we left the street of Tai Ied the entire two weeks we stayed here. It’s just that, everything you need is here! Lodging, food, laundry, Phuket Top Team BJJ, etc… and to go anywhere else required a cab or renting a scooter for a day.
The food in Chalong district is very similar to the food in Bangkok: traditional Thai dishes served with plenty of rice or noodles, and a good selection of beverages as well. You will see the same names of dishes (ex. Pad Gra Pao or Pad Krapow, Red Curry, Green Curry, etc…) The food here was, if possible, even better than the food in Bangkok!
Again, in fairness, not every dish I had in Chalong was as good as I would have hoped, but there was not a single dish that “wasn’t good”. So… where does Chalong (Soi Tai Ied) stand in comparison to Bangkok? Well, there wasn’t quite as much variety as we found in Bangkok – mainly due to fewer restaurants but the quality was pretty high. Scores:
Price: 9 (dishes were generally a little higher priced here than in Bangkok, but still comparable if you got the “special”).
Variety: 8 (It makes perfect sense: smaller area = less variety. Bangkok is just more dense and has more food options).
Quality: 9 Honestly, I ranked it 1 point below the max because I felt like only one place could have the “10”… I almost feel guilty giving anywhere here in Thailand less than a 10 – it was just “All Good”.
Beer: 9 Selection went down and cost went up…How did I end up in this “Fitness Zone”!?!?!?!
Last stop in Thailand?
Khao Lak, Thailand
Khao Lak was supposed to be just a one-night stop before our scuba trip on the Andaman Sea but once we were there we figured…”why pay extra to go back where we already were” (BTW…we took an “eco-conscious” elephant trek while we were there! A busy ten days!)? It turns out that Khao Lak is a resort town, of sorts, catering to Russians and eastern Europeans and so there was a pretty good variety of foods and places to eat. Beyond that, I discovered that there was BJJ available a short $6.00 taxi ride north at Combat 360X).
Here in Khao lak, there were a LOT of “upscale” restaurants in a “short” two-Kilometer strip. We ate at more than a couple but usually ended up going back to “Walker’s Inn” on the south end of the strip. Why? Well…1) We were staying there and despite the big crowds that came in for dinner we thought there might be a better experience elsewhere….not really, and 2) Well, they had the best prices on the strip… no joke! Here is how Khao Lak stacked up in the big picture:
Prices: 8 (remember, it is a resort town and everything is going to be more expensive. That said, we are still talking, like, $6.50 US/ea. for a sit-down dinner.)
Variety: 9 there are restaurants every 15 meters or so down both sides of the street! Variety is good, but not quite as good (as far as Thai food goes) as in Bangkok, where the menu at a sidewalk diner might be 200 pages long 🙂
Quality: 10 This was the toughest call! Food everywhere in Thailand is good! But, the resort atmosphere helped to take this area over the top for the quality score. The Satay chicken at Walker’s Inn was the best of my trip and I ordered it at least 4 times while we were there!
Beer: 8 even smaller selection and even more expensive 🙁
In the end, I can honestly say that Thailand was one of the, overall, best foodie experiences of my life! I tried more “new” dishes / flavors and paid less for them here in Thailand than I have anywhere else in the world (Including $5.00 steak dinners in Rio De Janeiro and $2.50 tacos pastore dinners in Mexico!)
Honestly, I feel like you just can’t go wrong eating in Thailand! It’s delicious and its cheap! I have always been suspicious of shows like Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” where they rave over “flavor and Value” of Thailand’s food but….Damn, it’s no joke!
But wait!!!! What locale wins as best place to eat in Thailand??? well, as you can see from the scoring above,Bangkok won out in the end after a very tough, objective scoring of the variables but, to keep it real with you, you just can’t lose when it comes to eating in Thailand, so don’t sweat the details! Just go anywhere you want and order up something delicious between training sessions!!!
Have any favorite eateries in Thailand? Is there something I have missed? let me know in the comments! Gotta any questions on where to eat, where to stay, where to train in Thailand? Hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time…Oss and good training (and eating)!