Is there any real difference between restaurants? Or are they pretty much the same wherever you go? I decided to put this to the test by comparing the restaurant that is top rated, not only for Koh Chang but for all Trat province against the one that was ranked 83rd.
Surprisingly, it was very hard to decide which was best. In fact, I couldn’t. They were equally good. There was nothing at all to separate them in terms of taste, ambiance, staff, price or location.
The reason was simple. They’re the same place.
Wongnai is a very popular Thai language website and app for reviewing and ranking restaurants – over 1.4 Million people have registered on the site. Jae Eiw Seafood on Koh Chang is rated 1 out of 104 Thai and seafood restaurants which are reviewed in Trat province by Thai diners. They tend to know a bit about what makes good Thai food and seafood.
Tripadvisor is the site that most of the world uses to rate and review restaurants. Jae Eiw is ranked 83rd best on Koh Chang by Tripadvisor reviewers. It’s even behind restaurants that have long since closed. A quick glance at the Tripadvisor Top 10 restaurants for Koh Chang and you’ll discover some great places to eat Italian, Greek, Mexican and German food – but no Thai or seafood restaurants are represented. Which is a bit odd. Perhaps reviewers just feel more comfortable reviewing food they know from home. Perhaps western business owners are more likely to ask for reviews or promote Tripadvisor to their patrons.
Whatever the reason, the end result is that some very good restaurants will get overlooked by visitors to the island. I chose to highlight Jae Eiw, not because it is the best on the island, it probably isn’t. Just because of the total disparity in the ratings of 1 vs 83.
Bottom line is that it is a very good restaurant and one that is packed at weekends and Thai holidays. It must be one of the busiest on the island, but with 90% or more Thai clientele. And if I want to eat Thai style seafood, I prefer to somewhere that the locals rate highly rather than Tom and Sharon from Birmingham who are on their first trip to Asia. So for a while it’s been on my list of places to eat at on the island. Apart from it being way down the Tripadvisor ratings there are other reasons why it isn’t better frequented by foreign visitors.
– It’s by the roadside in Klong Prao with no resorts within 500 metres. So, regardless of where you’re staying, you’ll need to make an effort to get there.
– There are no sunset sea views. Only views of the traffic outside.
– There’s no fancy decor and it’s got the ambiance of a large shed.
– Diners are likely to be met with a half awake “Uhhh” from a guy who appears to work there but you aren’t quite sure. He’ll be dressed in baggy jeans and a t-shirt bearing the slogan ‘Keep Calm and F*&k Off’ . Then when it comes to ordering he trusts his memory rather than using the note pad and pencil in his pocket.
– You’re screwed if you try to order individual dishes for individual diners. It’s not the sort of place that food arrives in a specified order or all at the same time. Or is exactly what you ordered for that matter.
– Avoid the attempts at cocktails. Stick to beer and water.
But if you’re willing to overlook all of that and realise that the main reason you’re going there is for the food then you’ll enjoy the experience.
Anyway, a few photos from a lunchtime visit last week. They do some of the best prawns I’ve had anywhere in Thailand. Stir fried in salt, chili and garlic. Delicious. The menu is in English, Russian and Thai and there are lots of pictures. So ordering is easy.
Wongnai App: You should download this and use it when you are travelling in Thailand. Yes, it’s in Thai language, there is some English, but it’s easy to use. It will find restaurants near your location and there are lots of photos of the food and a guide for prices. It’s not going to help much if you want a mock Irish bar with a good pie and chips. But if you’d like to try Thai food when you’re in Thailand and want to know the places that Thais love – then it’s worth trying out. Download it from Apple ITunes or Google Play