Traditional Thai dishes with a twist. And cocktails!
Tonsai has long been one of the best Thai restaurants on the island. Well known for it’s innovative twists on traditional Thai dishes as well as it’s excellent cocktails. The original restaurant opened almost 20 years ago on White Sand beach, but for the past decade it has a new home on the main road in Klong Prao village.
The restaurant is set back from the roadside and is an open sided building which is decorated with modern Thai artwork and cooled by ceiling fans. (There’s no aircon). There’s additional seating under the stars in the garden area. The decor is smart but simple. The lighting is soft, from large hanging lanterns. And the music volume is low. This is a place where you can have a pleasant chat over dinner. Not one where you crack open a bottle of whisky and party with a group of friends. It’s not fine dining, but in spite of location on main road, it’s airy, spacious and atmospheric.
There’s an extensive dinner menu. (It only opens in the evenings.) It includes a lot of healthy options including plenty of vegetarian options. It’s one of the restaurants I often recommend to our guests if they want a restaurant where some people can eat real food and others can eat veggie without compromising on quality.
A good starter is the ‘Miang kham’ . A northern Thai dish that’s a great starter as it’s easy to share among a few people. This is basically a bite sized wrap. You’ll be given a tray with some leaves on it plus small piles of shallots; chili peppers; ginger; garlic; lime; peanuts; dried shrimps and roasted coconut and a bowl of thick sauce that contains lemongrass, galangal, ginger and fish sauce. You simply make the leaf into a cone, then add a bit of everything and pop it all in your mouth. as you can imagine it’s a little overwhelming for your tastebuds. They have to cope with all the five basic tastes at once.
If that’s too exotic, try the KCFC – Koh Chang Fried Chicken. Much better than the stuff from Kentucky.
The main courses cover all the well known Thai dishes. Red curry with deliciously tender duck is very popular. Or if you want to test your tolerance to spicy food, try the Jungle curry. Which is more of a soup than a curry. You’ll need to convince the staff you want it served ‘Thai style’, as this is one of the hottest dishes you can get. The heat however doesn’t come entirely from chili, it’s from green peppercorns. A good jungle curry will make your eyes water and lips numb, but you’ll also be able to taste the various different herbs it contains.
After all that spice – time for a cocktail. And the ones they serve here are better than the sweet, brightly coloured but tasteless concoctions you find in beach bars. My favourite is the ‘Tom Yam’. A large amount of vodka plus lime, lemongrass, galangal and chili.
As with most Thai restaurants, the starters and main courses are great. The desserts are a bit samey – the usual ice cream sundaes and mango and sticky rice. Nice, but I’d use the money for another cocktail instead.
Open daily. Evenings only from around 18:00 onwards
Price: $$ – $$$
These restaurant reviews are just my thoughts on a place at the time I visited. I’ll mention if I know the owner well or get any freebies. But for the most of the time I am happy to play tourist and don’t mention this site at all. Obviously it isn’t possible to sample every dish on the menu and the type of food you have for lunch will differ to evening. In addition, owners and more importantly chefs, can change and your experience may differ from mine. If it does, post a comment below.