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Island View: First street food adventure in Phuket



PHUKET: A friend of mine, who intends to visit Phuket shortly, asked me what the street food was like here. Being a picky eater and mostly cooking for myself at home, I realized I hadn’t tried much in the way of street food for the year that I’ve been in Phuket.

Armed with dozens of recommendations from friends and colleagues, I set out on my first street food adventure last week. My intention was to try as many varieties as possible, while minimizing the number of diarrhea medicines consumed. As it turns out, the two are mutually exclusive, but that is a story for another day.

With street food hawkers being peppered around every commercial and residential roadside in Phuket, the choices are endless, and in my case, agonizing, as I can potentially spend hours deciding what to eat. Wanting to start out safe, the first item I tried was chicken satay, something every foreigner is familiar with. Definitely a smart choice – it was delicious and gave me the courage to carry on.

On day two of my adventure, I chose pancakes, or roti, as they are better known here. I’m surprised it wasn’t my first choice, being hopelessly addicted to desserts and all things sweet. These were definitely a long shot away from the traditional breakfast food I was expecting. More in the style of crepes, with banana stuffing and soaked with your choice of toppings, they were a delicious surprise that I will definitely be returning for.

Next was pineapple stuffed rice. The combination of sweet and savory isn’t something I relished the thought of (did I mention I’m a finicky eater?), but I stuck with it nevertheless. The first few bites are confusing, as you try to decipher the various bursts of flavor being thrown at you. Once your taste buds have gotten over the initial shock, you can’t wait to go back for more. Needless to say, I didn’t know what I’d been missing.

For fear of turning this into a menu, I will cut my reminiscences short here. However, there is one thing I would like to add. Perhaps it’s declining marginal utility, or perhaps the finicky eater in me just has to find some fault, but I noticed that the same food, from the same vendor, tastes different on different occasions. Or maybe that’s just the way it is in Thailand; you never know what to expect.

— Sahar Aftab Paliwala


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