We love Phuket. We love the seaviews, we love the hotels, we love the relaxed vibe, we love the cheap massages, and we love Thai food, and how cheap it is. Heck, we even got married there! We love Phuket so much that we've actually been to Phuket up to 4 times in just 1 year. For busy professionals like us, who cannot really plan too far in advance (too many uncertainties at work), a short-haul destination like Phuket, with its numerous daily flights and plentiful affordable luxury hotels are a perfect last-minute getaway. On this note, we've previously managed to pull off a holiday in Phuket with flights and hotel bookings just 3 hours before enjoying it!
The west coast of the island is where the action mostly is, the east left largely undeveloped for tourism. The most heavily populated beach is Patong, and it's a little like Kuta in Bali. It's in the middle of the west coast of Phuket. Over-commercialised, over-crowded and super noisy and messy, we don't really like it. Plus, the hotels here tend to be catered for the more budget-conscious traveller. As a rule of thumb, the beaches north of Patong get progressively more luxurious whereas the beaches south of Patong, because they were generally developed earlier, tend to not be as nice as the ones northwards. Northwards, there's Surin above Kamala, Bangtao, Nai Thon and then Nai Yang right at the northend. For reference, the airport's just 5 minutes above Nai Yang Beach.
Whenever we're in Phuket, we'd indulge the Hubs' love for lobsters. Seafood is a must in Phuket, especially lobsters. They're super cheap here! Okay, maybe not dirt cheap, but sure beats eating seafood in Singapore! It's a must to eat lobsters, fish, prawns, oysters and other shellfish. just don't eat crabs. Phuket crabs are tiny, like flower crabs but without the sweetness.
Kan Eang is one of two must-try seafood restaurants in Phuket, the other being Lotus. Thing is, Kan Eang is south-east of Phuket, and unless we're staying near the south, we've always gone to Lotus, which is more conveniently located in the middle of the west coast of Phuket, where we usually stay at.
The plus point about Kan Eang is that it's cheaper than Lotus (I see a bit of locals here than at Lotus where there's none), with seafood that's just as fresh. Kan Eang, like Lotus, also boasts live seafood swimming in tanks, a mark of a respectable seafood restaurant. The restaurant is also right on the sand (wonderful closeup view of the beach), but on solid ground (no sand in feet here!), completely open-air but breezy, and dimly lit (romantic candlelight glow mah).
There are 2 restaurants called Kan Eang, located next door to each other, which is really confusing. I personally prefer Kan Eang @ Pier, also known as Kan Eang 1, as opposed to Kan Eang 2. The food that I've had at Kan Eang @ Pier just seems better than the meals I've had at Kan Eang 2. I've just discovered, after this trip, that Kan Eang 2 is completely different from Kan Eang @ Pier, and that probably explains the discrepancy in their food!
So anyways, we were in Phuket for my company trip (the Hubs came along because we really cannot bear to be apart) and we stayed at Kata Beach (2 beaches south of Patong), which is quite near Chalong Bay (where Kan Eang is), so we took the opportunity to hit Kan Eang for dinner, with a whole bunch of colleagues, first thing after checking in. More people = more dishes! We didn't go to Kan Eang @ Pier this time, as a colleague mistakenly made the dinner reservation at Kan Eang 2. Ah well, now we know (to only go to Kan Eang @ Pier next time).
We started off with Thod Man Kung (THB120) deep fried shrimp cakes served with sweet and sour sauce. These were huge, lightly breadcrumbed and crisp, but retaining its juicy and bouncy textures inside. Nice and memorable, but not as swoon-worthy as the Trisara ones.
The Pla Neung Manao (THB35-100 per 100g) steamed fish with lemon sauce is a style unique to the Thais, a simple combination of cut chillis, garlic, spring onions and a drizzling of lime in the clear fish stock is all it takes to make this dish. The stock, infused with all of these simple herbs, is delicious. It's light and it's got a clean clear taste. We slurped up every bit of this.
The Pla Jian Kan-Eang (THB35-100 per 100g) fried fish with Kan Eang style, which really just means "topped with crispy garlic pieces" is another Phuket signature dish that you shouldn't go away without trying. The clean clear taste of incredibly fresh fish is brilliantly accented by aromatic crisp diced garlic.
The Kaeng Khiao Waan Gai (THB150) green curry chicken Thai style, despite its insipid green colour, is deceptively spicy. This had us all gulping down copious amounts of water. Rich and creamy with succulent chicken, this was well done.
The Tom Yam Kung (THB150) spicy and sour prawn soup was commendably spicy, rich and with depth of flavour. The prawns were small but sweet, fresh and plentiful. A pity the straw mushrooms were waterlogged and tasted off.
For our vegetarian colleague, he had the Kaeng Liang Pak Tai (THB150) mixed vegetable soup local style, delicate and rather sweet but otherwise unremarkable.
The Pak Bung Fai Daeng (THB90) stir fried morning glory Thai style, used more matured kangkong, so it was crunchier than what i'm used to, nicely flavoured, loaded with garlic with only a hint of chilli. We would have preferred this spicier.
The Phad Pak Ruam (THB90) stir fried mixed vegetables was a good break from the rest of the spicy dishes. Simple, homespun goodness.
The Phad Thai (THB70) fried rice noodles with spicy sauce Thai style, wasn't very good though. It was too limp, too sweet and without enough chilli peppers.
The minced chicken with chili and basil (THB120), with juicy chicken, was also unexpectedly super spicy. Very heady and potent.
The prawns in the Kung Kula Dam Op Wun Sen (THB180-250 per 100g) baked king prawns with vermicelli in claypot were humongous, so each of us took a half of each prawn. The glass noodles were extra yummy, having been infused with the rich prawn stock so they were super flavoursome.
The Kung Manggon Op Krathiam So (THB350-400 per 100g) baked lobster with fresh garlic was baked to perfection, with loads of freshly minced garlic for flavour. A bit too raw and pungent for me, the garlic. Would have much preferred crispy fried garlic.
The Kung Manggon Thermidor (THB350-400 per 100g) lobster thermidor, wasn't really our style, as this tasted more like warm lobster salad than it did thermidor. The cream factor on this was off the charts and quite cloying. Still, the lobster meat was fresh and sweet. My colleagues lapped this up.
We wound down with some Fried Banana Fritters (THB130), which would have paired really well with vanilla ice-cream, if it had arrived at the same time as the fritters.
Kan Eang 2