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Exploring Southern Thai Flavors - 6 Dishes to Delight in Phuket and Phang Nga

Following the success of the Michelin Guide Bangkok launch last year, Michelin Guide Thailand is pleased to announce its continuous development in Thailand extending the Thai selection to Southern provinces in its 2019 edition.
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The Michelin Guide Bangkok, Phuket and Phang Nga will be the 10th selection in Asia among the 29 countries which are covered by the renowned red guide around the world.

Thailand’s iconic limestone karsts, verdant jungles and crystal clear oceans are well portrayed in Hollywood and visited by many all over the world. The Southern provinces offer a myriad of experiences to feed the senses. When it comes to cuisine the mix of Thai, Indian, Malay, Chinese and Peranakan influences along with fresh seafood and strong agricultural traditions make Phuket worthy of a special journey.

Southern food in Thailand is hallmarked by deep flavors and use of pungent spices such as chilli, turmeric, galangal, kaffir lime and lemongrass. The abundant coasts of Phuket and Phang Nga also produce fresh blue swimmer crabs, prawns, oysters, abalone and nearly limitless varieties of fish. Here’s a sampling of the region’s varied cuisine.

Yellow Crab Curry (Mee Gang Poo)
Not to be confused with the more commonly seen dry yellow curry and crab stir fry, this southern golden curry is usually served with rice noodles. Containing an intense level of turmeric and chilli, the traditional version will also feature large portions of blue swimmer crab and wild ‘bai chaploo’ (lolot leaf).

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Yellow Crab Curry
Yellow Crab Curry

Sataw Pad Kapi Kung
Few ingredients are as polarizing as ‘sataw’, also known as ‘stink bean’ for its pungent aroma. The bitter but buttery beans are matched with equally powerful southern curry paste made with ‘kapi’ (fermented krill) and wok-fried with prawns.

Sataw Pad Kapi Kung
Sataw Pad Kapi Kung

Bai Liang Pad Kai
Fried ‘bai liang’ (melinjo leaves) with eggs is a speciality that pairs well with other southern dishes. It is considered a less spicy dish, though variations may include the addition of red chilli and garlic. The leaves must be cooked fresh and have a mild kale-like flavor.

Bai Liang Pad Kai
Bai Liang Pad Kai

Moo Hong (Braised Pork Belly)
This braised pork belly dish likely came from Chinese settlers who made their home in Phuket over various periods in the island’s history. The dark stew is fragranced with coriander root, peppercorn, star anise, soy sauce and palm sugar that is simmered for hours until the stew is reduced to a sticky consistency.

Moo Hong (Braised Pork Belly)
Moo Hong (Braised Pork Belly)

Kua Kling
A dish loved for its flavor as much as for its simplicity, Kua Kling (Dry Curry) is the combination of minced meat fried in curry sauce. The result is a spicy and filling dish that pairs well with rice or fresh vegetables, a true staple on any Southern-Thai family table.

Kua Kling
Kua Kling

Lo Ba
One of the most-loved Peranakan dishes, this hodgepodge of fried prawns, tofu, sometimes sausages, pig’s ears and offal differs from one restaurant to another. Locals enjoy this delicacy all day long. It’s traditionally served with thick sweet and sour tamarind sauce (which also differs between proprietors and is often a closely-guarded recipe).

Lo Ba
Lo Ba

If you don’t have a few days to spare for a full vacation in Phuket and Phang Nga, you can sample these dishes at the following Michelin recommended restaurants in Bangkok:

Prai Raya - Bib Gourmand
The Local - Bib Gourmand
Khua Kling Pak Sod (Prasanmit) - Bib Gourmand

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Here’s what our Inspectors said about Prai Raya
After winning the favour of locals in Phuket, residents of the capital are equally starry-eyed for Prai Raya's Southern-style cuisine. The signature dish is the yellow curry noodle dish with large chunks of fresh crabmeat served with coconut milk. To ensure freshness, ingredients like crab, vegetables, and shrimp are brought in weekly from Phuket. Dine indoors in a relaxing atmosphere or al fresco in the charming garden that makes you forget you're in a city.

Here’s what our Inspectors said about The Local
As condos and mega-malls pop up like daisies, colonial-style buildings, like the one that houses this authentic Thai restaurant, become harder to find. Private dining rooms are dripping with Old World charm and antique décor while the main restaurant, Viva Room, has thick wicker chairs and artful murals. Dishes are crafted from secret family recipes and represent all regions of Thailand. Service is warm and friendly.

Here’s what our Inspectors said about Khua Kling Pak Sod (Prasanmit)
The family that runs this casual restaurant brought their beloved aunt's homemade recipes from Chumporn in southern Thailand to Bangkok to much fanfare. Dishes are unapologetically spicy; just how good southern Thai food should be. Recommended dishes are the fiery kua kling pak sod (dry curry with minced pork), staw pad kapi koong (stir-fried stink bean with pork), and moo hong (stewed pork in sweet sauce). An ideal spot for a casual meal with spice-loving friends.

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