There’s a lot to love about Phuket: postcard-perfect beaches; lush, jungly coastlines; and more fresh seafood than you can eat. But beyond the glossy beach clubs and luxe hotels of the north, and just outside the heritage hub of Phuket Town, we often find ourselves wandering back to Rawai, the mellow, jungly town on the island’s southernmost tip. Located far enough from the airport that it’s often overlooked by the large swaths of tourists (though, it’s getting much busier post-pandemic), and because the area is devoid of big hotel brands, Rawai and neighbouring Chalong maintain a local, somewhat grittier vibe that gives way to a decidedly true-to-its-roots culinary scene.
And when it comes to impossibly fresh seafood, you can do no better than this slice of island. With thriving fishing villages to the west and one of Phuket’s busiest piers to the east, Rawai does Thai seafood at its best.
If you find yourself on the south end of the island, we highly recommend you save a meal (or four) for these restaurants.
There are plenty of restaurants that line Rawai Beach, but none are as famous as Mook Manee, the sprawling 300 seater that is sandwiched between the pier and the local seafood market. Walking in, you’ll probably notice the tanks of live fish and seafood of all varieties. Yes, that fresh-off-the-boat haul is where your meal will come from, and, go ahead, pick what you’d like to eat and how you’d like it served. Steamed blue swimming crab? Can do. Clams in southern-style curry? Done! Hunky tiger prawns in tom yum soup? All yours.
Pro tip: Our most important tip for visiting Mook Manee is to come hungry and come with a group so you can order as much as possible.
If you feel like you took a wrong turn, you’re going the right direction. This jungly restaurant down a side road in Chalong has made its name for its unusual Southern Thai dishes, like the island-renowned pla tu yat sai, or mackerel stuffed with spicy curry paste. Here, you’re dining surrounded by mangrove swamps in open-air bamboo huts. The setting is decidedly rustic, but the flavours are nothing but sophisticated. We love the stir-fried squid with black ink, the crispy fried smelt in turmeric, and the delightfully chunky crab rolls—but really, you can do no wrong here. The restaurant is spacious, but do not be surprised if you have to wait for a table. Phuket locals and food-motivated tourists swarm the place from as early as 11 am.
Are you a fan of Chef Thitid “Ton” Tassanakajohn, founder-owner of Le Du (one MICHELIN Star), Nusara (MICHELIN-listed), and Baan (MICHELIN-listed)? Try his first restaurant in Phuket, Samut (MICHELIN-listed). Taking its name from mahasamut, the Thai word for ocean, the menu here is, not surprisingly, seafood focused. Unlike the other restaurants on this list, Samut presents local seafood in a modern, highly refined manner. The team here works closely with sustainably minded fishermen from along Phuket’s coastlines to dole out impressive dishes like local lobster with sea grapes, pickled vegetable and kale powder, and snails and betel leaf in a southern-style curry. The restaurant itself, which is housed in a pretty traditional Thai-Chinese building looking over Nai Harn Lake, is equally as elegant with the trappings of somewhere you would celebrate a special occasion or treat yourself to a nice dinner out.
“Fast casual” is a familiar concept for sandwiches and noodles, and here—however improbable—you’ll find it with expertly cooked seafood. Located right in the thick of Rawai Beach road, Salaloy does all our Thai seafood favourites but with a flavour kick that would make any longtime local proud. The seafood is so fresh you’d think it swam up just to fill your order. In fact, take a seat outside along the bulkhead, and you’ll likely see some fisherman at work. Regulars come back for dishes like sillago fish with turmeric powder, soft-boiled wing shells, and shrimp paste dip with vegetables.
Pro tip: Come early before the best of the day’s haul is sold out!
The popular belief about the MICHELIN Guide is that it’s all about the stars, but don’t forget about Bib Gourmand too! Bib Gourmand awarded restaurants are adored by their many diners, because these restaurants offer meals that are even more satisfying than the price. Today, we present a list of nine restaurants that will be joining our Tokyo Selection.
Be the first to get news and update about the MICHELIN Guide
By clicking the subscribe button, you are giving consent to Michelin to process your personal data to (i) manage your subscription (ii) and measure the performance of our campaigns and analyze your interactions with our communications. Your data can be shared with other Michelin affiliates (TabletHotel located in the United States of America and Robert Parker located in Singapore) in order to know you better and with your consent send you marketing offers. You can manage your communication preferences at any time or unsubscribe using the link included into all our emails. To exercise your Privacy rights: contact us. Learn more about how Michelin manage your data here.