As soon as we got to Phuket, we couldn’t seem to shake the craving for fresh seafood. It’s kind of just what you get there. After searching for no more than 5 minutes, a bit off the beaten path but still, honestly, within the tourist bubble of Patong Beach, we found a street lined with boisterous (and huge!) seafood restaurants, I’m talking 100 tables each, easily. The street front featured glass aquariums in which live Thai lobsters, blue and black crabs and the largest king prawns I think I’ve ever seen in my life were energetically wagging their bound appendages, hopelessly struggling for their lives.
A team of Thai boys grabbed one by the antennae every once in a while and brought it over to its death to a simple grill on the outskirts of the restaurant, while ladyboy waiteresses ushered in the already amazed tourists. Huge tables full of local Thai families (most likel celebrating a special occasion because the place is a bit expensive) and groups of Chinese tourists ordering, knowing how to order, the good stuff, and lots of it. Plates outnumber heads 4:1.
This is the perfect place to order a beer and something off the grill, smoke a cigarette and enjoy the place, the noise and the feeling of being in a tropical place by the sea.
Upon surveilling the offer of sea critters in tanks, I opted for the Blue Crab. Out of the 4-5 preparation methods (curried, black pepper-ed, in a soup, etc.) I opted for the simplest one, grilled, giving the chance for the flavor of the flesh itself to shine through. It did. The crab was a bit smaller than expected but the meat was plump and juicy, a bit of lime brought out the sweetness of the soft white flesh. Chopped in half for finger-picking convenience.
We also got a mixed shrimp stir fry with plenty of fresh green broccoli, cauliflower, string beans and carrots in a soft, salty soy sauce. The shrimp was crisp and tender, with a perfect bite to it. The tail shell was crunchy enough to eat as well.
Finally, the always good-lookin’ kao pad sub-pa-rod goong, Thai pineapple fried rice with shrimp. Despite the obvious tourist magnet nature of this dish, we ordered it because, well, it looked heavenly. Tasted wonderful too. The rice is pan-fried with small juicy-sweet shrimp as well as cubes of fresh pineapple which gives the rice fantastic moisture and a bit of acidity. The same acidity brings out the subtle sweetness of the shrimp. Toasted cashews are thrown in to add a nutty, oily layer of flavor and a crunchy texture to offset the mushy rice. The thing is seasoned with pepper, very light soy sauce and a dash of curry powder to add a herbal depth to the thing as well as a brilliant yellow color. The rice is then packed into a halved pineapple whose moist, sweet, fruity walls keep the rice moist and mushy and sweet.