Travelfish contributions by Batfish
The first number represents the total number of published reviews by Batfish. The bracketed figure is submitted reviews -- reviews may not be published for editorial reasons or may be removed because the property concerned has been delisted from Travelfish or has closed.
Life according to Batfish
Living in Phuket since 1999
Ooh! India, USA, Canda, Mexico, Central America, South America, half of Europe, about 15 countries in Africa from Morocco to South Africa...
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Zaab Kafe in Phuket Town
Published 8:37 am, 25 Apr 2015
And another new restaurant! I seem to be blogging a lot of food recently, largely because we've not really been anywhere for the last couple of months since our excellent day trip in Phang Nga Bay in February. But low season is coming soon meaning I can take some holidays and long weekends to get out and explore. Anyway, being "stuck" in Phuket is quite nice! There have been a few restaurants that I have meant to blog for a while. Zaab Kafe (with a K) has been open for about 18 months I think .. at least that would be when I noticed it. Zaab is on Yaowarat Road a couple of blocks north of the main part of Phuket Old Town. And yet, still very much in the old town - some buildings nearby are certainly not new.
(above) Entrance to Zaab Kafe approaching on Yaowarat Road from the north
(above) Over the street from Zaab are some classic old Phuket Town shop-houses
(above) And next door is this old shophouse with a wooden second floor. Definitely a "fixer-upper"!
Zaab Kafe is a little more modern. Certainly adds a splash of colour to the street and just about tasteful enough not to spoil the old town atmosphere. Well, just about ... it is a little bit twee. There is a certain kind of Thai people who love a place like this with colorful decor, and seats where you can take your photo next to a Kitty or a big teddy bear :) Absolutely a place for the local market, which does mean very good Thai food.
(above) Cuddly decorations at Zaab Kafe
(above) Inside Zaab Kafe
Lots of space inside with tables of varying design. Some with chairs, some for sitting on the floor, some booths, some smaller tables if you just want a coffee and cake and don't need half an acre of space for all your food dishes :) That is our style - we do tend to over order at places like this. Too many delicious sounding options. We've been half a dozen times so it's become a bit of a regular place for us now. Not really in the "cheap" price bracket, at least by local standards. I think our last visit the bill was 1700 Baht for 7 people. That's probably cheap if you are from the UK. Last year in my home town I noticed a Thai restaurant where simple Thai dishes like Pad Graprow were 15 pounds (about 700 Baht) per dish! Yes, so 1700 Baht for 7 is OK. It does depend what you order of course. Everything is tasty. My favourite so far is the Fried Laab (ลาบทอด) - Laab is a meat dish from northeast Thailand - normally made with pork and cooked with chilies and herbs. And if you then fry it, delicious! See the photo below ...
The last couple of times I have been here, I have left with a slightly aching belly, too full and yet still wanting more! The menu is varied and they have all kid of drinks - different coffees, juices, shakes ... I had a very good mango shake last time. You can also get a beer. Here's a few of the dishes we have tried at Zaab.
(above) Lemon Chicken - might not seem like a Thai dish, but I see it in many Thai restaurants. A good choice if you want something non spicy (not like the laab, which is spicy!)
(above) Salmon steak with rice - a kids favourite.
(above) There are plenty of fried rice options. This one made with Chinese sausage and salted egg.
(above) Make your own Vietnamese style fresh spring rolls!
And finally - and this one does go well with a beer if you have the chance to try anywhere ... Sun dried pork (beef also available), in Thai it's called Moo Det Deow (หมูแดดเดียว). I can nibble several plates of this!
Phuket Town is the place to find this kind of local restaurant. They are all a bit different, especially newer places that are built with a bit of an individual touch. Not just plastic chairs and tables selling the same old Thai food. We like to find something interesting with dishes that we can't get in other restaurants. I am glad that we live close to town because in the last few years there have been plenty of new restaurants and cafes opening up away from the more touristy areas of Phuket and offering some tasty treats.
More Phuket Town restaurant suggestions
Kopitiam on Thalang Road
Tunk Ka Cafe
Eleven Two & Co
Zaab Kafe Location Map
Eleven Two & Co. Restaurant in Phuket Town
Published 8:38 am, 23 Apr 2015
Because we live near Phuket Town, if we are eating out we often head to town or nearby and we have several favourite restaurants. But Phuket Town is constantly changing, new restaurants and cafes open often as the old town in particular gets popular as a place to visit. The center of the old town is Thalang Road which used to be the main market street 100 years ago and is still home to older shops selling cloth, hardware and herbal medicine. There is a weekly Sunday market on Thalang Road too. One of our favourite places to eat along Thalang Road is Kopitiam, and I have found Since 1892 good for a coffee, and then you have a couple of old Muslim roti restaurants on the same street. A newer restaurant, Eleven Two & Co. opened in late 2013 and I have been a couple of times just for a snack or a drink. Last week, I met up with fellow blogger Tim for a proper meal there, as the menu did look quite tempting!
(above) Eleven Two is situated on Thalang Road in the heart of Phuket Old Town. It's on the left side of the photo above. You can see it's built into an old shophouse and I am glad to say the owners have kept the old style.
First thing .. a drink! The drinks menu is pretty big with all kinds of coffee, different teas, smoothies, sodas and beers. A few "special" imported beers available, but at 250 Baht per bottle, I'd rather stick with a simple Chang or Singha! There's even one import beer on the menu called "Dog B" with a menu price of 1,250 Baht! If anyone tries it, do let me know.
(above) And you get some free prawn crackers with your beer :)
Most of the seating is open air, some right by the street, some just inside. There is also an aircon room if you can't stand the heat. I much prefer sitting near the street. Thalang Road is not really busy, you're not sitting by a highway here! The food menu has Thai dishes, burgers, pizza, salads, sandwiches and more. Prices a bit higher than your average Thai restaurant, but a decent price for burgers and pizzas. First time I stopped here with my wife for a snack, and the chicken satay french fries looked like a good idea - see photo below, went very well with a cold beer.
With Tim and his wife, we ordered a whole variety of dishes .... you have to try a few things before judging a restaurant! First up was a bruschetta selection. Pretty much a light meal on its own!
And my main dish ... well, I do eat Thai food about 90% of the time, and when I go for something non-Thai, it's often a burger. And I don't mean McDonalds, no, no. I like a good homemade burger, big and fat, lots of real meat. And what I got at Eleven Two was the "Northern Tribe Burger" - just what the doctor ordered!
I had actually ordered something called the "Cheese Lava Pork Burger" but it was not available - a good reason to go again :)
And another side dish - spicy pork with tortillas ...
I like this kind of restaurant, a bit arty, a bit different, a selection of foods that I might not normally eat. And the old town is a good place to find a more interesting place to eat. I can recommend Eleven Two & Co. for lunch or dinner. I think it's closed on Mondays. A place I will eat again for sure.
Eleven Two & Co. - Location Map
Rimlay Restaurant at Rawai Beach
Published 9:31 am, 31 Mar 2015
Rawai beach is very different to the main west coast beaches in Phuket such as Patong, Karon, Kata and all the rest. Rawai is located right in the south of Phuket close to Phromthep Cape and the beach faces southeast. Like most beach and coastal areas on the east side of Phuket, Rawai is not a swimming beach, but it is fairly busy, as the beach road is lined with many small restaurants and a few hotels. Plus Rawai is home to many longtail and speed boats which can take people out to nearby islands such as Coral Island or Koh Kaew Yai. The east end of the beach past the pier has a fish market and a small sea gypsy community. I don't come to Rawai as often as I should. I like it and will try more of the restaurants here in the future.
Rimlay (actually the full name is Baan Rimlay) is close to the pier. If driving in from Chalong, turn right and you can park in front of the restaurant - it's just after the turn. It's next door to the well known Nikita's bar/restaurant. Back in January I stopped here my my aunt and uncle for lunch during a tour of the south of Phuket. It was a good choice! We got a table by the sea and on a hot day it was an ideal place to enjoy a cold beer in the shade.
And I was glad to see the prices are reasonable. 60 Baht for a Chang beer when you are sitting by the sea in Phuket is a good deal :) Baan Rimlay has been there for many years. I'm pretty sure it was there back in 1999 when I arrived in Phuket, I know it's neighbour Nikita's was there back then and if I recall, Nikita's did not do food, but you could order and they'd bring it from Rimlay. Is that right? Heck, it was a long time ago! Nikita's does do food now and I should stop by sometime soon. On this occasion, my uncle, aunt and I ordered some small dishes (and another beer). The whole place is in the shade with some big trees growing above the restaurant. A light sea breeze is all you need, so it's not too hot even on a hot Phuket day.
(above) I ordered Yam Sam Grob, which is a seafood salad. Very good with a beer, very good on a hot day when you don't want a huge plate of food. Phuket (and neighbouring Phang Nga province) specialises in this kind of dish - you can also get a salad with crispy dried shrimp or with lemongrass or with fish eggs, it's very local food and hard to find outside this region.
(above) And some garlic shrimp, another good snack to enjoy with a cold beer. I need to go again and order something else from the menu to complete this blog entry! It's a comfortable place for a seafood lunch or a drink and a nibble, with seating by the sea and good prices - you struggle to find this at the more developed beaches. I was back again last weekend taking some photos and stopped in just for a cold afternoon beer. It's not a huge place, maybe 10 tables, service quick and friendly. Might be a nice place for dinner too.
(above) Baan Rimlay Restaurant
There are a whole bunch of small restaurants here in Rawai. If you visit the fish market on the other side of the pier (see photo below) there are restaurants there which will cook what you buy - totally fresh seafood! There are also a couple of fancier looking places further along the beach. I hope Rawai can stay nice and simple - the fact that you can't swim and sunbathe here tends to keep the hordes away. To be honest, it's not changed that much in 15 years, a bit more developed, but still quiet.
Related Links / Nearby Attractions
More about Rawai Beach
Rawai Beach Hotels
Ya Nui Beach
Koh Kaew Yai Island
Sunset Tour to Coral Island
Baan Rimlay Restaurant - Location Map
Where to see Monkeys in Phuket
Published 10:02 am, 24 Mar 2015
I get the impression that a lot of visitors to Phuket want to see a monkey .. and preferably not in the zoo (the zoo will not appear on this list). Now, I am a bit blasé when it comes to monkeys. I have seen plenty. I have traveled in Africa, been face to face with a baboon outside my tent, seen hundreds of vervet monkeys in the Masai Mara, and I have seen gorillas in the Ruwenzori mountains (gorillas are not monkeys of course - they are apes). Nevertheless, I am still happy to see wild monkeys. There are not many wild animals left in Phuket - the island was jungle covered 200 years ago, and Phuket used to have wild elephants, tigers, rhino and a lot more. Industry in the form of tin mining and especially rubber led to clearance of much of the jungle during the 19th and early 20th century, long before any tourists came here. There are some untouched jungly areas, but much of the land is cultivated, and there are no tigers here anymore! Monkeys however are adaptable, and can live in just about any kind of environment. There are quite a number of places where you can see monkeys in the Phuket area....
I guess the best place to start is Monkey Hill (real name is Khao To Sae) on the north side of Phuket Town - it's the hill with all the aerials / radio masts etc. on top, and easy to spot from much of the south of the island, being around 270m above sea level. There are a lot of monkeys here, mostly they are found near the top of the hill. Local people come up to feed them, but it's not a "tourist attraction". You can drive up in a car. People also exercise here, but I am not sure I'd want to walk up to the top where the monkeys are. Not sure if they can get aggressive, but I'd rather be in a car! (update) I saw a news story last year - a tourist was bitten by a monkey here.
• Monkey Hill - More Information
Also on the north side of Phuket Town, Rang Hill (I am sure) never used to have monkeys some years ago, I do not recall seeing any until the last few years. Rang Hill is quite popular as a viewpoint, a place to eat or get some fresh air and exercise. Our last few visits, there have been monkeys a-plenty taking handouts or sifting through garbage. They just tend to hang around the carpark area and not the restaurants.
• Rang Hill - More Information
• New Viewpoint at Rang Hill
• Tunk Ka Cafe on Rang Hill
Sirey Island (east of Phuket Town)
As you drive to Koh Sirey, passing the fishing port and shipyards, you enter an area of mangroves and here be monkeys. They live in the mangroves and the local authorities even built a little monkey viewing area by the side of the road. We like the Sirey island area, nice and quiet and there's a very nice temple on the hill here too.
• Sirey Island - More Information
• Sirey Temple
Wat Suwan Kuha Temple
Also called "Buddha Cave Temple" and "that cave with a Buddha in it", Wat Suwan Kuha is a temple built into a cave close to Phang Nga Town, off Phuket Island, and about a 90 minute drive from Phuket Town. Certainly worth a visit, and outside the cave there are lots of monkeys. We have been a few times and I have not seen any monkeys inside the cave. I guess they know the rules.
• Wat Suwan Kuha - More Information
Bang Rong (northeast coast of Phuket)
I remember driving down the small road to Bang Rong pier to eat at the floating restaurant in the mangroves. We'd been before but never seen monkeys. This time - monkeys! We got quite excited - unexpected monkeys are the best. They hang around in the mangroves but also jump around on the roofs of buildings and chew car aerials. We know where *not* to park now. Bang Rong is where you can get a ferry over to Koh Yao Noi and Koh Yao Yai Islands too. (Update) On our most recent visit monkeys were rather over friendly and even stole fruit from our table and tried to grab a bag of take away food from my wife's hand. Take care!
• Bang Rong - More Information
Gibbon Rehabilitation Project
Close to Bang Pae Waterfall and not far from the aforementioned Bang Rong, the Gibbon Rehab Project looks after gibbons that have been illegally caught, or kept as pets. Some are released back into the wild. It's illegal to own a gibbon, and if you see gibbons being hawked round the streets for photos, please contact the GRP. Gibbons are apes, not monkeys, I know that .. but want to include the project here, it's worth a visit combined with the waterfall, a jungle hike ....
• Phuket Gibbon Rehab Center - More Information
Related Phuket Blog Posts
Khao Sok National Park
Hiking to the Highest Point in Phuket
Kayaking in the Mangroves
Suggested Phuket Hotels
Krua Suan Cha Restaurant in Phuket Town
Published 2:34 am, 13 Mar 2015
It's been a while since I added any new restaurant recommendations on the blog. I think that's mostly because we (my wife and I) are getting old and boring! We used to try new restaurants quite often, but these days we have a few favourites that suit us, and we've been a bit lazy, plus it's been high season and I'm working a lot and often tired, so if we eat out I want to eat somewhere familiar, somewhere I know the menu. Not very good for the blog! I will try to put this to rights in the coming few months. When I say "eat out" please note - we are not into fancy restaurants or dressing up for a night out. We often "eat out" at small roadside places where the family can eat for a few hundred Baht. These tend to be restaurants within 10 - 15 minutes drive of our house, a place we can grab a quick dinner on a school night. Krua Suan Cha (ครัวสวนชา) is one of these places. It's located on the edge of Phuket Town on the road from the Central Festival Mall, just past the Darasamut School and before the Queen Sirikit stadium (home of Phuket FC). And I'm not saying you should go out of your way to eat here, but if you are in the area, it's a favourite of ours so I hope you like it!
OK it's not super easy to find and the sign outside (above) is only in Thai .. yes this is not a tourist restaurant, but many people say they want "real" Thai food and this is the kind of restaurant where you get it! There is a map at the bottom of this blog post, but it may also help to note that opposite Krua Suan Cha is a landmark of sorts .. a shop making signs that has a kind of Yoda-Gremlin on the roof. Check the photo below! If you see this, then the food is over the road!
Krua Suan Cha is actually a little more fancy than it used to be, as last year the owner added a very nicely built wooden indoor seating area at the front of the restaurant. And outside is the garden area with many stone tables. It can get pretty busy at lunchtime, not so busy in the evening and it's closed by 8pm. They close on Sundays.
(above) Indoor seating
(above) Garden seating. Many restaurants are called Krua-something. Krua means Kitchen. And 'Suan Cha' means Tea Garden. And you can get iced tea with your food!
Now, the food. Important. When it comes to Thai food, I don't like it watered down for a tourist's tongue. And I am sure many visitors want real Thai food. So you have to eat where the locals eat. My wife really likes her southern Thai food and tells me that the Gaeng Som here is great - a very spicy, sour curry. They also do dishes made with sataw (สะตอ) - something which in English get called 'stink beans'. Not that the beans stink, although they do have a unique flavour, but it gives a noticeable odour to your pee for at least a day after eating! I am not a fan, my wife loves it!
(above) Gaeng Som curry with fish
I find that whatever I order, it tastes good. Could a simple plate of fried noodles or a green curry, or fried fish with garlic and even the iced tea is good :) A couple of favourite dishes of mine below.
Pad Graprow a kind of stir-fry with holy basil is a common Thai dish and you can get it with chicken, pork, prawns or I suppose vegetarian. The one above (clearly) is with prawns. Very tasty. And a fried egg on the rice of course. I mean, you can get this just about anywhere, but the thing is, at Krua Suan Cha I know I'll get a good one.
(above) and maybe my favourite thing to eat .. Kale fried with crispy pork (Kana Moo Grob, คะน้าหมูกรอบ).
There is a partial menu in English, but I am not quite sure how much English the staff speak! The menu in Thai is much bigger. If you have a favourite Thai food, you can almost certainly get it here. Hey, it's not a fancy place, but the food is good, the prices are low and it's clean and friendly. And if you live here, it's the kind of restaurant you need to have as a regular spot. Eating out here can be as cheap as eating at home if you go for simple Thai dishes.
More favourite Thai restaurants in Phuket Town
Tunk Ka Cafe
Krua Suan Cha - Location Map