Best of Koh Samui – Where to eat – Our favourite food places
Koh Samui is the perfect island to take a break, relax and forget your worries.
But even paradise island has its limits and with an influx of tourists, service may vary.
We have tested the island for food and restaurants, and have found some real gems on Koh Samui.
Here they are.
WHERE TO EAT ON KOH SAMUI?
1. There really is just one answer to that – Mama Ninja Restaurant.
Located at the touristy end of Chaweng Road. Serves authentic Thai food. Soups, curries, noodles, shakes, fruit plates, even breakfasts.
With no frills. Amidst a surprisingly basic interior which is different to the typical tourist restaurants.
Mama Ninja pleasantly reminds of Thais roadside cuisine.
You sit in a spacious iron hut on white plastic chairs. Dishes come on baby blue plastic plates and the food…the food is awesome.
I am drooling just thinking about the fantastic smells and sights Mama Ninja offers, while performing at her open kitchen right in the middle of the restaurant.
Mama Ninja is not only delicious, it has turned out to be way cheaper than most restaurants in Chaweng.
So far, the best value dishes we have tried on Koh Samui.
The menu is extensive, every dish looks exactly as displayed in their unique photo menu books.
Nothing beats Mama Ninja. She is the boss who has every single dish under control.
If you choose to eat seafood, it will arrive on a tray and is placed on a scale to determine its cost.
You can have it cooked, if you are satisfied with your choice.
Food is super fresh. Prawns in a Thai spicy-creamy sauce.
In case it isn’t spicy enough, you have four chilli cups to choose from at your table. Remember that Thai food is rather on the hot side – always tell how spicy you would like your food, or you might get the full blown chilli sensation with your dish.
Squeezing lemons onto the tender squid rings.
Pumpkin curry with rice and sweet and sour fried fish are always a delight. My other favourite is spicy Thai noodle salad. But any of their Thai coconut based curries are fantastic. Tomek is Mama Ninja’s soup fan.
Do not disturb feeding times.
Nothing beats Mama Ninja’s mango shakes. Well, maybe the mango fruit plate – our routinely treat for dessert.
But come early to beat the queue for dinner.
2. Lamai food street.
For Thai roadside-style food with cocktails and music at the centre of Lamai.
We especially liked to walk the long food aisle, watching the busy sellers handling their goodies.
There is a positive food buzz. Friendly locals are cutting, frying, stirring, their BBQ grills are sizzling.
Fast food can be fantastic!
There are plenty of vegetarian choices, too.
You order straight from the food stalls and can have a seat at the huge but always packed seating area in the back.
Super hot but (and) happy! Not only the weather makes you sweat. Thai food is spicy.
Cooling down at the fresh fruit stand. Ripe and sweet dragon fruit, papaya and honey melon… but I am a mango addict.
As hygienic as possible. I have never had any stomach upsets from Thai roadside stalls.
Indian food, too!
The bestseller is a Thai classic. Pad Thai, the popular rice noodle stir fry.
Miscellaneous take away. For 30 Baht a portion, dinner doesn’t get much cheaper.
Spring rolls. Were also on our to-eat-list.
Crisp shrimp and chicken tempura with chilly sauce in small plastic bags.
Wrapping at the food stalls is functional-creative.
The cocktails get handy bag holders.
3. More Thai classics. Thai soup.
Spicy as hell but heaven in the mouth.
Tom yum goong is made of chilli peppers, fish sauce, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, limes, mushrooms and the broth is shrimp based. Served with noodles and a soft egg. I only need to remove the green coriander to the side (it just tastes too weird to me).
The menu is only in Thai and no English is spoken (= great Thai food) but there is basically just tom yum soup. And shaved ice cream.
This roadside eatery specialises in delicious Thai spicy soup. Located on road number 4169, near Bangkok Samui Hospital.
4. Adventurous? Try Koh Samui’s fun fair market.
For a truly local experience.
Fried insects, critters and other local specialities, interspersed with local entertainment, like throwing darts at balloons, balls at cans, gambling at a roulette stand.
This market is not a tourist spot!
My favourite pick is the tofu skewer with Thai sweet chilly sauce.
‘Lolly with the plated dessert’, I dared not to try. Maybe you will?
Neither can I see myself eating Doraemon, the smart robotic cat from Japan.
If you know what that is, please let me know.
Local markets are the place to go beyond food comfort zones.
Just a tip, try to stick to the food and away from the temptingly cheap DVD rips. The quality is crap. Weird cut versions in bad colour. Is all I am going to say.
Now back to food comfort zones.
5. Fuji. Thailand’s Japanese restaurant.
Thailand is really taking over in the food department. It has a bunch of superb restaurants surpassing Western standards. Koh Samui is far away from the culinary splendours of Bangkok, yet one of my favourite restaurants from the capital has made it to the island.
Fuji serves Japanese food and I have always enjoyed my sushi here.
There are two branches, one is located at Koh Samui’s Tesco Lotus shopping centre, the other in Chaweng, near Mercure hotel.
6. The climate controlled food court at Tesco Lotus.
Drive down to Tesco Lotus and you will find a large food court with all kinds of Thai food. Many locals eat here. The prices are a bargain. There is also the big supermarket to explore.
But the best stand is the fresh juice and shake counter. When driving around with our bike, we would often just come up here for a drink or two!
The food court behind Tomek, standing at the juice counter.
At the very king of juice.
Our routine: carrot-apple juice (for Tomek) and watermelon-pineapple juice (pour moi).
Sorry to say that I can’t say much about bars – the juice competition won every time – but all I know is…
7. Koh Samui’s fresh fruit stands.
These roadside stalls deserve their own paragraph. They are unique to Thailand and the best energy source for the day. Koh Samui sells many delicious fruits that are not imported.
There are so many exotic treats to choose from for so very little money!
Definitely try the green coconuts, if you see them. They are dramatically cut open with a machete and make for a refreshing drink.
And at some point you will notice a strange smell, deriving from a strange fruit. This is when one got to be brave and try the durian, (because it is miraculously popular in Asia).
Because the smell, well the smell is indisputably…
I could sense there was something wrong with the air, way before spotting the spikey culprit growing on the tree.
You might think that the spikes are actually a largely ignored sign to simply stay away.
8. Koh Samui’s 7Eleven shops.
For a quick snack, the convenience stores are a godsend.
My recommendation: Tao crisp seaweed with a milky drink.
Hello Kitty Vitamin jelly drinks and strawberry flavoured milk. Or maybe I simply chose baby pink and purple.
The best is definitely honey melon milk.
Everyday, same same but different.
My cousin went for grenade juice.
Try the crispy dried white scale snack. A good preparation, if you ever want to have fun with snacks in Japan.
9. Pancake stands.
Good to eat any time.
Something between a French crepe and American pancake, I like the Thai version with banana-coconut.
10. Silver Beach.
Have a meal at Silver Beach, overlooking the lagoon. But I am biased here. This is our preferred place to stay when on the island, which I am going to rave about a bit further down.
Silver Beach Resort makes very good Pad Thai.
And various Thai curries.
Tom kha is my favourite. Cooked with coconut milk, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, Thai chili peppers, straw mushrooms, fish sauce and lime juice. You can have them with chicken or shrimp.
Always served with a plate of rice. You spoon the curry sauce onto your rice.
Coconut to drink. Thai curry to eat. A fantastic dinner or lunch. Or breakfast!
I would recommend their restaurant not mainly for the food (which isn’t bad at all and freshly cooked by the Thai owners) but for the experience of dining by the beach and watching the sunset over the ocean. The location is simply cheesy beautiful.
It is going to be obvious where we recommend to stay on Koh Samui… stay tuned ❤