Having ten days in Samui to explore the island and all it had to offer was incredible. We hired a scooter and hit the road the afternoon we arrived in order to start discovering Samui’s street food and road-side eats. Below are some of our favourite Koh Samui street food vendors/eateries that we stumbled upon together with directions on how to find them…
Coconut ice-cream 60THB
Fisherman’s Village, Bophut
Our first coconut ice-cream had to be enjoyed in a coconut shell with the flesh of the coconut scraped away to be enjoyed with the ice-cream. Smooth, creamy and not too sweet. YUM!
Coconut ice-cream cart 30THB
We flagged down this cart and the cheerful vendor around Chaweng.
The ability to flag down a mobile vendor selling coconut ice-cream whilst you yourself are travelling on a scooter blows my mind. I love it. We opted for ice-cream in a cup with a sprinkling of peanuts. Most vendors offer ice-cream in a cup, in a half coconut shell, a cone or as an ice-cream bun- sandwiched in a hot-dog style roll. Utterly refreshing.
Charred rice noodles and pork with thickened gravy and pork satay 150THB for the both of us
Located 50 metres from Chaweng Post Office, travelling clockwise around the island. Look for the satays grilling by the side of the road, on the left. At the time of writing it was situated next to an empty lot.
It didn’t look incredibly appealing but by God it was good! Rice noodles charred from the wok (you can choose what type) languished in a thick, pork gravy that melted into a flavoursome broth in your mouth. The pieces of pork were tender and there was a generous serve of crunchy gai lan too. The pork satay were lean and when coated in the satay sauce, sinfully moreish. The accompanying salad of pickled cucumber and red onion was a refreshing palate cleanser.
Fresh fruit from any road-side stall
The Thais snack so healthily with fresh fruit at the top of the list. There’s nothing like juicy, cold pineapple on a hot day or custardy, rich durian eaten road-side.
Noodle soup with BBQ pork 40THB a bowl
On the north-east corner at the intersection where road 4169 and road 4172 meet, look for tables under a group of trees, on the left hand side of the road.
Noodle soups were a popular snack for us. Light, filled with an array of different textures and flavours it ticked all the boxes. In the noodle soup below I especially liked the inclusion of a hunk of minced pork cake.
Noodle soup with BBQ pork 40THB per bowl
Located in Mae Nam just after the bridge on the left hand side of the road, when travelling clockwise around the island.
This noodle soup was a riot of texture. The spring onion and coriander offered bursts of freshness, the crispy won-ton skin, crunch and the BBQ pork was tender and full of flavour. I added lots of extra chilli to hike up those spice levels.
Papaya salad, little spit-roasted birds and grilled sausage
Located on the 4169, approximately 500 metres from the intersection of the 4169 and the 4171 when travelling clockwise around the island. Look out for little birds on a spit on the right hand side of the road.
This stall had one of the best papaya salads we sampled on Samui. The tomatoes were especially juicy and sweet and the flavours were so well balanced. We couldn’t work out what the little birds were (when we asked, all we got was “little birds, cheep, cheep”) but the meat was a tiny bit darker and stronger in flavour than chicken. Yum! The sausage was suspiciously pink in colour but very tasty and smoky AND we suffered no ill after effects.
Noodle soup with offal
Located down Soi 5, Mae Nam about 700 metres from the beginning of the Soi. Look out for the peach coloured house and the open air kitchen next to it.
Despite the fact that we would probably not have opted for this by choice (we sat down and pointed to a couple of empty bowls and said “2 please”) once you got over the organ factor it was incredibly rich in flavour and quite delicious. The broth was fragrant with star anise and cinnamon and thickened slightly with blood. If you’re not a fan of blood cake, chicken’s feet and intestines then perhaps give it a miss!
Kao Mon Gai/Chicken and rice
Located on the 4169, around 50 metres after passing the turn-off for the 4174 when travelling anti-clockwise around the island. Look for an unassuming, tinned-roof, road side eatery with chicken’s hanging in a cabinet on the left hand side of the road.
This kao mon gai was killer and the homemade chilli sauce was amazing- I seriously considered asking if we could buy a jar off them. It was sweet, spicy and had huge depth of flavour. The chicken was moist and the rice incredibly addictive- I’m guessing it’s that rendered chicken fat! Damn delicious.
Spotted at Bang Por beach.
The way these roti vendor’s artfully craft these pancakes is fascinating to watch. The dough is slapped and stretched until it’s paper thin and then any manner of toppings are popped in the middle before copious amounts of margarine is used to put the final dessert together. I opted for banana and cinnamon and TBS peanut butter and banana. The combination of crisp yet slightly doughy roti, sweet banana and drizzle of condensed milk makes it an ideal finale to an evening out snacking on street food.
The local markets were hubs of activity and filled with all manner of delicious eats. Pots of curries, skewers, fried chicken, mango and sticky rice, som tam- I could have walked around and around, gawking and eating for hours. We frequented Mae Nam market a bit and also popped in to the night market that had food and other stalls (clothes, toiletries, bags etc). Here we sampled squid egg balls (a Thai arancini of sorts), deep fried pandan dough, grilled chicken wings, grilled sausages, pork skewers and fried chicken.
Street stalls at Nathorn Pier night market (Friday evenings)
We discovered Nathorn Pier night market on our last evening. It’s brilliant- there are numerous stalls, think noodle soups, skewers, Issaan sausages, Thai wafers, fried chicken, roti pancakes, coconut ice-cream and even sushi! And even better, there are tables set up and stalls selling beer so you can make a night of it. It was full of locals enjoying a night out or grabbing takeaway.
What can I say, ten days was not enough having explored only the tip of the ice-berg. Samui as an island is a great spot to discover street food- it’s big enough to have variety but small enough that you can return to favourite haunts and easily find your way around. So leave those resort dinners behind- there is SO much out there.
Images: Thomas Southam
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