( This section is outdated. The new restaurant guide is coming in mid 2018 )
First off – Thai food only. There are some nice Italian places, plus a very good Mexican and another great little Greek restaurant. But, to be honest, if you want Western food the best place to eat it is in Europe.
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 and if people email me asking to go to their restaurant, I rarely do. Or if I do, then I don’t tell them who I am. However, I do sometimes get a 10% discount though at the places I go to regularly. :-)
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 touristy / 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 is a sea of European faces inside. As mentioned above, the chances are you won’t have a really bad meal.
Price isn’t really an issue in most restaurants as unless you are eating in luxury hotel restaurants or having stodgy, Western meals in Westernised surroundings every day. For example, thin crust pizzas are a popular menu item in many restaurants due to the very high profit margins on a ready-made base covered in tomato puree, with a few bits of meat, veggies and cheese scattered on top. You’re looking at 300 Baht or so in many places for this. Your Thai lunch & dinner will be far cheaper than eating the equivalent meal in your home country. Stick to cheaper places for lunch and splash out on a few cocktails and a more extravagant meal in the evening.
One rule of thumb though is to avoid drinking wine with your meal. 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’. Just Say ‘No’. 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 few 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 fancier places.
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:
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.
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.
(Mouse over for the names of individual restaurants and use the controls to zoom in for exact location of each recommended restaurants on Koh Chang. More info on each restaurant when you click the red marker.)