I still remember the first time I felt like a Kardashian – jet-lagged yet glamorous despite a 30-hour flight. I was unsure about plenty of things and anxious to meet my fellow Soul Foodies during the flight. Still, everything just shifted and fell into place when I saw them at Phuket airport.
Three Foodie Stops & Phuket Old Town
On Day 1 of our Travel Thailand Foodie Retreat, I learned jetlag couldn’t stop anyone from excitedly pushing on with our tour. Sure, it was tempting to nap before starting our adventure in Phuket, but we also knew napping would set us back from our goal. We decided to spend half of our day in Phuket Old Town and stop by three soul-feeding destinations.
The sun was starting to shine at 7:30 AM, and our flight-stuck souls needed a boost, so we searched for some soul food first. We picked Khao Tom Dibuk, and I was so glad we ate there.
Decades-Old Rice Porridge Recipe
Khao Tom Dibuk holds a Bib Gourmand title from Michelin Guides, and an awe-inspiring 78-year-old lady leads it. We ordered four of its famous dishes: pork soup with noodles, rice porridge with fermented tail, fish rice soup, and five-spice soup with big noodles. I’m proud to say having our meal there had been soul-feeding and satisfying!
After this meal, I talked to Khao Tom Dibuk’s owner, and she told me a secret! She guards all of their recipes closely, so we can’t know about it, but she shared that no meal is complete without some white soy sauce by Angel. She also showed me a hundred-year-old basket, which was so awesome. I’m glad I got to view such a priceless possession.
Roti Made by Heart
We decided to enjoy some Sino-Portuguese Architecture soon after, but we were in Aroon Restaurant before we knew it. They serve the best roti in town. Roti is among Thailand’s famous street food. And no one there cooks it better than Manus Dada – the owner of Aroon Restaurant – because, as he says, their roti “is the best because we make it by heart.”
Besides roti, Aroon Restaurant also serves different types of curry and the famous Thai pulled tea. Aroon Restaurant’s tastiest curries are lamb curry, chicken curry, and dal curry. Thai pulled tea is a foamy, sweet drink manually transferred from one pitcher to another until it’s mixed. We ordered a few types of roti, curry, and Thai pulled tea.
Breath-Taking Views and Soul-Feeding Meals
By the time we finished with Aroon Restaurant, we were fully fueled and ready to explore Phuket Old Town. We walked inside Vanich Walking Street and enjoyed a feast for our eyes. Of course, it’s a market street, so we had to head on to our next destination, Wat Chalong, and eventually, the Big Buddha.
We started to lose energy when we got past those places, so we went for our last stop, Tunk-Ka Café. I can only describe this place in two words – breath-taking and soul-feeding. It was both the scenery and the food that got to me. Since this was our last stop, we went all-out with the meals we wanted to taste, which were:
- Crabmeat and herb “bai chaploo” in coconut milk curry
- Smoke-dried shrimp with spicy shrimp paste dip and served with fresh vegetables
- Boiled fish balls served with lemon and chili sauce
- Stir-fried prawn with lemongrass, cumin, and chili in coconut milk
- Local Phuket fried noodles with seafood
- Grilled chicken satay with peanut sauce
- Deep-fried prawn topped with sweet-and-sour vegetable sauce
- “Pak Miang,” which is a local vegetable, and shrimp in coconut soup
Honestly, it sometimes feels like not much time had even passed whenever I remember this day. It was one of those life-changing events, and I was so glad I started the Travel Thailand Foodie Tour with my soul foodies. I don’t think I could’ve done it without them, and I don’t think my soul would’ve felt well-fed and satisfied if it weren’t for the places we visited that day.
Fresh Market and a Cooking Class
The second day of our Travel Thailand Foodie Tour was just as memorable as our first. I remember feeling still a little bit disoriented from yesterday’s flight yet excited to start the day. We started our day by visiting Phuket’s wholesale market.
Everything was fresh there, and we ended up surprising the stall owners since foreign visitors don’t often go there. It was the place where chefs and restaurant staff alike buy their fresh ingredients, so I was so glad I could see it for myself. We also stumbled upon various kinds of rice cake and some kanoon – which is jackfruit in most countries.
After the market, it was time for our first group cooking class, and guess where we went? We went to Suay Restaurant, where Thailand’s first and only Iron Chef, Chef Noi, taught us how to make Pad Thai, Tom Yum, and Som Tum! It was so fulfilling to be guided by a highly-commended chef and bond with my fellow foodies through cooking.
We then headed on to Rawai Seafood Market, where we got to pick and buy fresh-caught seafood from nearby fishers. We decided to have our seafood cooked on Mook Manee, and they cooked our seafood in every way possible. We ordered everything we could, including fresh oysters and an exotic mocktail called Lobster Blood. As you may have already guessed, that mocktail comes from lobster blood. It’s boiled, which turns it into a white gel-like concoction, and when mixed with Sprite, it tastes great.
Of course, our Phuket tour wouldn’t be complete without seeing its waters, so we decided to spend our last day island hopping. We went to Racha Yai, Racha Noi, and Maiton. I was awestruck as I observed how these islands were close to one another yet so different from one another.
Racha Yai and Racha Noi are twin islands, but Racha Yai brims with life while Racha Noi doesn’t have any inhabitants. Racha Yai also showcases perfectly blue waters and white sand beaches. Racha Noi, on the other hand, possesses emerald waters highlighted by rocky shores. And if those two islands contrasted, Maiton acted as the middle ground with its golden-sand beaches, palm trees, and forested hills. The only downside is that Maiton is privately-owned.
We spent Day 3 of our Travel Thailand Foodie Tour relaxing, swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, and even fishing. The fishing part had been a surprise – the captain offered to catch a tuna for us! We had dinner in Kan Eang Seafood Restaurant, where we enjoyed crispy shrimp salad, papaya salad with blue crab, jumbo fish balls, and crab curry.
Lessons from Phuket Foodie Tour
Plenty of things can tire us down – like the jetlag and our daily life stressors – but I learned that we shouldn’t let that drag us. If we can push through the things holding us back, we’ll find the soul-fulfilling something that we’ve been looking for on the other side. It also pays off to go gentle on yourself when you need to and set aside some time to relax – just like we did on our last day in Phuket.