Monday, 17 September 2018 05:03

The Cheap Places

One of the great things about traveling and backpacking Thailand is the sheer amount of great places to eat which won’t break the bank, and Koh Tao is no different than the rest of the country. With new options appearing what seems like every other week (and disappearing too, unfortunately) what we’re going to look at now is what I consider to be the best places to fill your stomach without emptying your pockets.

 

Duck 995, Sairee Village Thai/Chinese, Vegetarian Options

Number 1 on this list for a damn good reason, this small and typically Thai-looking restaurant won’t win any prizes for décor, but has built up an excellent reputation for itself on Koh Tao for delicious, cheap food served quickly with minimum fuss and maximum taste. Always busy, this locals favourite serves what I consider to be the best duck noodle soup I’ve ever tasted (and I consider myself quite the connoisseur of noodle soups, I’ll have you know) and one taste of literally anything from their menu will show just why they’re rated so highly with those who know their food.

Main courses go for between 70 and 150 baht, or if you want the whole roast duck it’ll cost you just 700 baht. The menu is quite heavily duck-orientated but other options are available for those who don’t wish to eat these cute little quacking-machines.

 

Our Choice – There’s no doubt that the Spicy Duck Noodle Soup is a real joy, with an explosion of flavours on the taste buds with every bite. With a delicious broth to die for, noodles of your choice, bean-sprouts, peanuts and the perfect amount of seasoning it’s something you’ll come back for again and again.  Go for the larger 90 baht version, as you’ll no doubt want more.

 

 

 

Da’s Sandwiches, Mae Haad by the Pier and Sairee Walking Street Sandwiches, Fast Food, Vegetarian Options

 

Another Koh Tao local’s favourite, after fattening up everyone by the pier in its original location Da has now opened up a second outlet in Sairee, with exactly the same qualities as the original – massive, delicious sandwiches at a very low price of just 70 baht. Impossible to eat two, these wonder-sarnies are just packed with fresh ingredients making it a perfect pre/post dive bite, but don’t be surprised if it ruins your dinner – they’re really that big.

Not really a place where you’d sit and eat (though the staff are lovely and always happy to chat) I like to order takeaway and stroll down to the beach to munch on mine – just be aware that they usually close at 14.00 though!

 

Our Choice – The chicken breast, bacon and cheese in a fresh white bun is a sandwich that could sustain a man for weeks, and has reached ‘legendary’ status here on the island. Stay away from it if you’re on a diet…

 

 

Seasons, Sairee Village Thai, Isaan, Vietnamese, Seafood, BBQ, European, Vegetarian…you name it

A main-stay of the Koh Tao community for many years now for those in the know, Seasons (also known as ‘All Seasons’ in a previous incarnation) has probably the most comprehensive menu that I’ve ever come across, with pages and pages of Thai food from the far north to the more Indian-stylings of the south, incredible Vietnamese rolls and soups (the phở bò is wonderful), the obligatory European salads, sandwiches and burgers, BBQ mackerel, pork and chicken dishes…if you can think of it, it’s probably on there somewhere.

One of the more rustic restaurants on the island, the friendly owners have over 20 cats and dogs which may put a few people off (the dogs are rather fragrant) but once you dig in to the menu you’ll see why so many locals rate this as one of the best cheap places to get traditional fare on Koh Tao, with prices ranging from 60-350 baht for main courses. It’s also one of the few joints on the island where the food is actually cooked by Thai chefs, rather than using the Burmese cooks most establishments employ.

 

Our Choice – It’s a tough choice with so many excellent dishes on the menu but I’ll stick my neck out and declare their Panang chicken curry as the best on Koh Tao, with fresh spices and that phenomenal homemade curry paste combining beautifully with the sweetness of the coconut milk and citrus of the kaffir lime leaves. Lovely stuff!

 

 

Yang’s, Mae Haad Thai, European, Vegetarian and Vegan options by request

 With a decent selection of Thai and European foods Yang’s is a firm favourite on Koh Tao, especially with the Spanish-speaking contingent here. Famous for delivering extra-large portions at really low prices leaving you with more money to spend on the nicer things in life (like diving), the reputation here is well deserved, with the restaurant often being filled with the more bohemian looking traveler trying to fill themselves up whilst spending as little as possible – try the chicken schnitzel and if you want to eat something the size of a frisbee.

Can get busy between 19.00-21.00 when service can get a bit slow, so best to order direct from the counter when it’s packed out. Mains cost from 60-250 baht, with the most popular dishes just under 100 baht.

 

Out Choice – The fried fish (usually mackerel) with chilli and basil on rice is really quite delicious, with the perfect amount of spices and fish that comes very well-cooked - unusual for cheaper restaurants that just love to overcook fish, in my experience.

Sairee 711 Foodcourt, Main Road Thai, Isaan, European, Japanese

 

Now this one might be cheating a little bit as the foodcourt isn’t just one place to eat but a handful of different outlets, but rules are there to be broken right?

This foodcourt popped up a few years ago, starting with ‘Krua Thai’ restaurant to the left of the 711, and then quickly followed by the fried foods brigade with their deep-fried delights, papaya salads, pad Thai, mango and sticky rice, strange-looking sushi and more…it’s basically a ‘who’s who’ of classic Thai streetfood all at bargain prices from 20 baht upwards.

Personally, I prefer to eat from Krua Thai which has a huge menu with a lot of unusual and classic northern Thai/Isaan food which can be hard to find at the run-of-the-mill Thai joints on the island. Service is always friendly, and they have a beautiful and friendly young Siberian Husky to play with as you wait for your order (which always comes out very quickly much to the dog’s dismay).

 

Our Choice – The fried spicy catfish curry with sticky rice is one of the most delicious Thai dishes I’ve ever eaten, with so many different textures and flavours throughout the dish you can’t fail to be impressed. Highly recommended!

 

 

The Best Five Restaurants on Koh Tao - Part One

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