It’s a dank autumn/winter day in London so I’m quickly whisking you back to Thailand.
Do you love eating your dinner alfresco listening to the sound of the ocean? I’ve the perfect place for you. In Ao Nang you simply have to head for Soi Seafood (Seafood Street) where you’ll find a row of restaurants along the beachfront. In fact they are the only restaurants in the town that are actually on the beach.
You can eat seafood in all of them (which the name is obviously telling you) and there are some enticing fishy displays with huge tiger prawns, amazing lobsters, crabs, sea bass and snapper as well as oysters, mussels and clams. A lobster or tiger prawn dinner is going to set you back a fair bit (over £30), but shrimps and other fish are reasonable and available cooked in many Thai and European styles.
I’ve travelled quite widely in Thailand (this is my sixth destination) and found the restaurants in Krabi to be more Westernised than anywhere else I’ve been in the country. This means less spice and less adventurous dishes which was a bit of a shame as I’m always up for trying something different. Having said that, everything was fresh and tasty and the Thai herbs were plentiful.
One Western influence that comes through strongly in Ao Nang is Italian. You’ll get a delicious, perfectly authentic pizza at quite a few of the restaurants which often have both a Thai and an Italian menu and two chefs! Like Sala Bua and Lo Sputino (the name demonstrating the dual menu) which is the second establishment along in Seafood Street if you’re coming from the centre of town. We felt a bit over-indulged one night so shared a ham and mushroom pizza which was wonderful with its thin and crispy base, plenty of topping and lashings of oregano. Eating pizza in Thailand does make me feel a bit strange, though, almost like I’ve broken some unwritten law! But change is good and the pizza was lovely.
Here’s a taster of some of the Thai dishes we enjoyed along Seafood Street.
Ao Nang Seafood (I know, the most imaginative of names) is the first restaurant in the street and the only one that’s easily visible from the road. In fact it took us until halfway through our holiday to realise there was anything else there! We tucked into a whole sea bass steamed in a cornucopia of Thai herbs and special fried rice. The rice is true perfection in Ao Nang.
In the Baanlay Thai Kitchen I tucked into chicken in a pineapple. Sounds like something only a tourist would order (how I love being a tourist)! It tasted amazingly sweet and fresh and well, pineappley – and I enjoyed eating out of a pineapple – nothing wrong with that.
At Ra Bieng Talay we went for shrimps with ginger and spring onions, minced beef with Thai basil and a bowl of delicioiusly spicy noodles. Portions were fairly small but at only 120 baht (just over £2) a time, really good value.
On our first night we unknowingly stumbled on the beginning of Seafood Street – and I can only blame the jetlag for preventing us from seeing any further. Anyway, we had dinner on the main road in Baibuaa Thai Kitchen and one of the best dishes of the holiday. Perfectly crispy Thai fishcakes with beautiful Thai basil and chilli flavours.
For someone who enjoys a glass of wine with dinner, Thailand can be expensive and somewhat challenging. Some restaurants only have very large screw-top bottles (strangely they are mainly South African) which they serve by the glass or decanter. It’s drinkable, but not great and expensive for what it is.
So when we discovered that all the restaurants in Seafood Street (that we went to) had something of a wine list with decent wines we were even more enamoured with the area! Expect to pay about £20 for a bottle of okay French or Chilean Merlot. Not cheap but hey, what’s dinner without wine?
I’d dine alfresco every night if I could. Maybe it’s because I’ve lived in London for so long where the opportunities are few and far between. Those balmy nights overlooking the beach in Ao Nang were simply the best.