Restaurants

Koh Chang Restaurant Guide

Koh Chang somtam

( This section is a bit outdated.  The new restaurant guide is coming in early 2019 )

Restaurants on Koh Chang now offer numerous cuisines from cheap Thai streetfood to top quality European cooking. And in between the two extremes you’ll find plenty of choice when it comes to places serving pub grub, Indian, seafood,Mexican and more.  There’s something for everyone.  Even vegans. 

I’m hoping that most people reading this will avoid having western food every day of their holiday and will go and try some of the great Thai food on offer.  No matter where you are staying, you’ll find a multitude of small Thai eateries.  The small roadside restaurants and food stalls serve up all common, quick and simple, Thai  dishes plus noodles, somtam (papaya salad ), BBQ seafood and meats on sticks. Prices are cheap.  You won’t be paying more than 50 – 70 Baht for a simple dish in a local restaurant.   Of course, if you want to try some of the fresh seafood on offer, expect to pay more.  But even if you’re on  a budget, There are inexpensive street food stalls selling fresh locally caught snapper and barracuda plus crabs, prawns, scallops and mussels.   You don’t have to enjoy seafood in a beach restaurant.  You’ll find better food and better prices away from the beach.

When I first started this site back in 2004 there wasn’t much in the way of good western food on offer on the island.  But over the years the number of surprisingly good Western restaurants has grown and you’ll find some excellent Mexican, German, Indian and Greek food on offer.  That’s in addition to everyone’s second favourite cuisine, the safe option of Italian food.  You won’t ever be far from an Italian restaurant. And some are well worth a visit  if you get a hankering for some recognisable food once in a while.

Plus the island is littered with coffeeshops – so there’s always an air conditioned place to escape the heat.  Added to this you’ll find a couple of good bakeries plus kebab stands and specialist pizza and burger joints if you don’t need  an extensive menu to choose from.   

Restaurant Prices on Koh Chang

“How much should I spend for a meal?”  That’s one of those questions like “Where should I say?”, where there’s no single answer that will please everyone.  For some people it will be 200 Baht  / day.  For others well over 2,000 Baht / day.   But both will be happy and well fed.

Small roadside restaurants will charge from around 40 – 80 Baht for a single dish meal or bowl of noodles.  But Thais will usually order several dishes to share and a large, separate bowl of rice.  So figure on 100 – 180 Baht per dish, depending on it’s ingredients – cheaper for something simple like stir friend vegetables, more expensive for a prawn dish, for example.  

Pizzas, which are very popular due to the high profit margins, are from around 200  – 350 Baht.  At the higher end expect imported  parmesan and Prosciutto.  At the lower end expect tomato ketchup and something that resembles cheese.

The most expensive dishes are those that you order in either a seafood restaurant or good quality western restaurant.  If you’re ordering fish, crabs and prawns, expect to pay a few hundred Baht per head minium.  Typical western pub meals are in the 200 – 300 Baht range.  A lamb shank or a beef steak will be 400 Baht or more.  

As far as drinks go, you’ll find 40 Baht fruitshakes by the roadside everywhere you go.  Some places use more fruit than others, so they can be a bit hit and miss.  Remember to ask the seller not to add sugar.   

Bottles of water are 10 – 20 Baht.  Soft drinks are a little more. You can get a small beer in a beach restaurant or bar from 70 – 90 Baht.  Large for around 120 – 150 Baht.  Good imported and craft  beers are around 250 Baht upwards. 

Cocktails can be anywhere from 100 Baht up to 250 Baht, or more if you’re in a posh hotel.  The cheap cocktails will get you drunk, but will always give you a bad headache due to the cheap alcohol being used.  It’s always better to pay a bit more for top shelf booze and real fruit, not oversweet flavouring.  There’s a world of difference between a strawberry mojito made with real fruit and one made with syrup.   

One rule of thumb though is to avoid drinking wine with your meal.   There are four main reasons for this.

Firstly, the waiter’s knowledge of wine will be limited to it coming in either red or white.  

Secondly, wine is usually kept standing  in the sun if it’s white or in a fridge if it is red.  

Thirdly, any house wine you see for around 100 Baht a glass is almost certainly a brand called ‘Mont Clair’.  Although the taste isn’t bad, these wine boxes contain a mix of the dregs from a Chilean or South African vineyard plus some grape juice to make it more palatable. 

Finally, any wine that has started life in a grape is very expensive in Thailand, due to the 300% tax it attracts.    So if you are a wine drinker, stick a wine box or a couple of bottles in your suitcase before you leave home and bring them to restaurants. Small places won’t charge any corkage and it’ll only be 100 – 300 Baht in larger restaurants. 

How to Order Thai food.

This isn’t about language, as menus will all have Chinese and English translations.  It’s cultural. 

You’ve heard the saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”.  Well, when in Thailand, eat as the Thais do.  That means don’t order your own food.  Order food that is shared by everyone. 

You’ll have probably seen restaurant reviews where an upset patron mentions ordering her salad in a Thai restaurant and her husband ordered a fish and guess what, the salad arrived in 5 minutes.  The fish took 20 minutes and reached the table long after she’s finished.  Simple solution – share your salad with the bloke you’ve been married to for 30 years. 

This habit of sharing dishes makes eating a more social experience.  Most Thais find it amusing to watch foreign couples and families on holiday each ordering their own plate of food and not allowing others to try any of it. 

Share the dishes. You’ll get to try a lot more things than if you order meals separately.  This difference is also why it doesn’t matter what order the dishes arrive, everyone can start eating immediately the first one lands on the table.  Whereas if you’re ordering separate dishes there’s probably going to be one person served within 5 minutes.  Then a 10 minute gap before another couple of meals appear from the kitchen.  Then, just as the first person is finishing another person will finally get their meal.  And the group will round off the evening complaining about the slow service. 

Never expect everything you order to come in a specific order or at the same time, unless you’re in a pricey western restaurant or a posh hotel.  Order a few dishes, share them with others at your table and enjoy a stress free dinner.  Easy.

The Best Restaurants on Koh Chang

As to which is the best, I don’t know.  I’m not a foodie.  I’ll mention the places I like best.  Over the years, I’ve eaten at far more places than those mentioned.  But restaurant owners often get upset if you criticise their food.  So it’s better not to say anything. 

The original plan was to add a place every week.  But I quickly ran out of places and got bored of having crap meals.  But you shouldn’t go wrong with the selection here. I’ll add new places from time to time when I find a restaurant that is consistently good.  But they aren’t easy to find as nowadays many places seem to have given up trying to make Thai food and make a more tourist friendly equivalent , in which ketchup is used in curries and any hint of strong flavour has been removed, basically the same as you get on the busier islands in the south of Thailand.

After having the same single page of recommendations for restaurants for the past few years I decided that it was time to expand the very lightweight , single page, restaurant section of the site.  A lot of people read the old page and followed my recommendations and in most cases enjoyed the handful of restaurants that I mentioned which, to my mind, stood out from the rest.  In this new guide, there are far more restaurants listed and also photos of them and the food.

Not everywhere I eat will be included as there’s no point listing places where you have a mediocre or bad meal.  The idea is to have a list of places where you’ll have a pretty good feed and know what to expect in advance.  I’ll try to include some cheaper places, some  for an evening meal, some on the roadside, some by the beach etc.  In addition they should be places that have been open a year or so, as there is no point posting info and then people finding it has closed when they come here.

There will be a couple that are ‘pinned’ and show first in the list of restaurants in the Restaurant Section  – these are the ones to head to if you want to be sure ( in my opinion ) of having a very good meal here.

I should point out that I always pay for meals, none of the places I recommend are there because they give me freebies or pay to advertise on this site.

Koh Chang still doesn’t have the variety of upmarket, fine European or Fusion dining experiences you’d find on Samui or Phuket but what it does have is a good selection of restaurants where you will find something to keep even the fussiest of diners satisfied.   Most visitors comment that finding good food for a good price isn’t that hard to do, unlike in some other areas of Thailand.

I don’t like bland Thai food, I want flavours the zing & pop in the mouth and a texture that isn’t generic mush.   Not a dish that looks very nice but once you’ve eaten it , fades from memory faster than it took to cook it. If you are new to Thai food then you may prefer this type of more toned down meal.   In which case you will be happy in any restaurant that has a display of neatly labelled seafood on a bed of melting ice  outside and a sea of European faces inside. As mentioned above, the chances are you won’t have a really bad meal.

To save you having to read too much, at the moment, my two ‘Must Eat’ at restaurants are two small places that serve up some of the best Thai food you’ll find anywhere – not just on Koh Chang.  Both have also been around for several years.  In addition, in both the owner or their family does the cooking.  Neither has rushed to expand to try to cash in on their reputations and the owners realise that bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better.  And don’t expect super fast service at either of them, as dishes are always prepared fresh from scratch, you won’t order a fish and have it on your table 10 minutes later like you will at a large restaurant.   So, in no particular order the two are:

Kati Culinary, Klong Prao

Is it good?   it’s very rare to meet someone who has only eaten there once.   I know   American restaurateurs who spend a week on Koh Chang every year and eat here every night as they want to be sure of eating great Thai food.   I also know expats who have lived in the country 20 years and eaten in the best restaurants around Thailand and they rate the food at Kati as amongst the best they have had anywhere. Likewise people who visit Thai restaurants  with Michelin starred chefs in in luxury hotels in Bangkok and then say they pale in comparison to Kati.

Kati is a small restaurant by the main road in Klong Prao village.   It is run by a mother and her two daughters, with Mum, and her assistants, doing most of the cooking.     Prices are of course a bit higher than the no frills eateries nearby but you get a friendly ambiance, wide choice of dishes – most of which can be prepared with your choice of pork/chicken/prawn/beef/squid etc   or as a vegetarian dish.

Be prepared for you meal to take some time to get to the table, this is because everything is prepared fresh for each dish. ‘ Most restaurants have veggies and meat already sliced and diced and use pre-made curry pastes etc.   At Kati everything is made from scratch, this takes longer – you may have 45 minutes before your food appears, but it is definitely worth the wait.   And if you enjoy the food, you can also sign up for a cooking class where you will learn how to make pretty much any Thai dish you want.

Saffron on the Sea, Pearl Beach

I like to take people to Saffron when they think they’ve   already tried pretty much all the good dishes that Thai cuisine has to offer and they don’t expect to be surprised by new taste combinations.   The current menu is quite small but it is all unbelievably good and includes dishes that you won’t find elsewhere or which are just done so much better than you might be used to, not just the cooking itself but in terms of presentation too. Many luxury hotels could learn a thing or two about how to present their food at Saffron.   The menu is continuously being updated with new dishes added as and when Ting, the chef/owner creates something new.

It’s the most expensive of the three restaurants, but not by much and it is the only one by the sea.   If you want a quiet, romantic place for a meal then this is ideal.   I can’t think of anywhere else that comes close on Koh Chang – possibly Tantra Restaurant at Nirvana Resort in Bangbao, which is good, but the food at Saffron is far superior. The restaurant is set in a tropical garden by the sea.   The only sound is that of the waves on the rocky shoreline a few metres away.     The kitchen is open and you’re welcome to wander over and watch your food being prepared.   Cocktails are also excellent here, despite the owner, Ting , being teetotal. She somehow manages to make popular cocktails way better than most bars on the island without ever having tasted them herself.

Koh Chang restaurant listings & guide

 

11 Comments

  • ‘Saparrot bar’ on the river is great for Falange and Thai drinks with great views and now doing food.
    Deanno and Thai partner Gaye run a good bar with great service and live football when it’s on. This is my 5th time to Ko Chang and I usually stay a couple of months.
    I have tried Pad Thai and Tom kha and both freshly cooked and both delicious. They have extended bar and changed management since last year and they have plans to add a Pool table for next season.
    Great lively nights! And also romantic on the river. There also boat trips available on the river.
    They do a mean Bombay Saphire gin and tonic!! Had a few too many last night.

    I am now off to try Chanmun which you recommend, and I will give feedback tomorrow

    I am a regular user of your website which is great for up to date info. I have recommended site to lots of friends

    Jocelyne

  • Thanks Steve. Maybe Ruen Thai have succumbed to catering to the tour group palate. I hope not but I haven’t been there for a few months so will have to try again in the near future.

  • Just about everything on this website is spot-on and well-written to boot. But on a recent trip to Koh Chang (my third), one of your restaurant pics was a fail. Ruen Thai in BangBao. My friend and I love spicy Thai food, and we often BEG restaurants all over Thailand to make the food spicy–not “falang spicy, Isaan spicy!” So anyway, we ordered scallops in a chili paste, as well as a “spicy whole steamed fish”. The scallops were enveloped in a bland, gravy-like sauce that wouldn’t even be considered spicy by Taco Bell standards. As for the fish–it said “spicy” on the menu, and the waitress even ASKED if we wanted it “spicy” to which we said “YES! PLEASE!” And it was a totally bland, tomato-y dud. The quality of the fish itself was fine. But we found Ruen Thai NOT a place where ” they won’t cut down on the chili or go steady on the peppercorns to suit palates that aren’t used to Thai strength seasoning” as you said. Probably the only substandard meal we had during this trip. Well, maybe we caught them on a bad night. Probably the best seafood we had on the whole trip was that harshly-lit no-name place on White Sand beach, across from the beach side, between India Hut and the Beer Bars. DIdn’t get to try JE Seafood. I’ll hit that up on the next trip. Again–really enjoy this website. Cheers.

  • Island View is close to Salakphet Seafood, a very large seafood restaurant which is popular with Thai visitors. Nice place, fish are all in keep nets & the crabs in tanks in the restaurant so cant get any fresher. When you go to Island View you will be dropped off outside this restaurant and then walk along a path running behind fisherman’s houses to Island View. If you want a smaller place you will find a couple on the path from Salakphet Seafood to Island View. I haven’t tried these but they should be cheap and the seafood will be fresh.

  • Hi. The best is probably Indian Hut on White Sand beach, located between Changburi Resort and Tesco Express minimart at the south end of the beach. It has been there for a few years and is usually busy. There are a couple of small Indian restaurants in Kai Bae but I have never tried them.

  • Hi Jim – I have eaten at The Kitchen twice, with people who were staying down in Lonely Beach. But compared to the local places in Klong Prao or Kai Bae it didn’t strike me as anything special. Guess I have a different tastes to backpackers :-)

  • Hi Ian,

    You forgot the backpacker’s favorite in Lonely Beach – The Kitchen.. A little hole in the wall with amazing authentic Thai food

  • Yep, everyone we send to try it seems to love it – especially the seafood. So Sea Breeze is definitely worth seeking out. ( Located on the estuary in Klong Prao, take the paved road adjacent to Ramayana Resort and follow it for around 500 metres. )

    Will give the Restaurants section a proper overhaul in the near future. Visitors seem to enjoy trying to get round all the recommended places.