Finding a nice place to eat in Karon beach turned out to be quite a challenge. Most restaurants cater to the tourists, who in most cases are Scandinavian senior travelers, so you can probably imagine how that affects the food. They don’t want glass noodle salad, they want spaghetti carbonara, and if they dare to order Thai food, they make sure that everything spicy and flavorful has been carefully removed.
After 3 days of really bad Western food and half-bad Thai food, I refused to take it anymore, so I got out of that beach chair and the following days I managed to find 4 restaurants that I really liked:
Esan Roysoaw is the place to go for cheap and tasty Thai food from the Esan (Isaan) province. That region is renowned for spicy food, and Esan Roysoaw stays true to the origins. There’s a roof but no walls in the outdoor restaurant, which seems to have a large local fan base. In the corner in the back there’s a grill, and the tantalizing smell of grilled meat soon reaches the nearby tables. Try the Roast Pork Sunlight (sundried grilled pork), which comes with a tasty, but spicy, dipping sauce. For the more adventurous souls, there’s also “roast frog” or “boiled appendix salad”. Most dishes are 40-80THB and soft drinks start at 20THB.
Esan Roysoaw, Patak Rd, Karon
This stylish spot specializes in vegan, vegetarian and organic food. A closer look at the menu reveals an emphasis on the organic promise, and the selection of vegan and vegetarian dishes are quite limited even though the good intentions are definitely there. I had a vegetarian soup served with what I first thought was brown rice, but which turned out to be some kind of grain. Could it be rye? There’s also an in-house organic shop. Prices start at 150THB for a salad.
O-Oh Farm, 485 Patak Rd, Karon
Lamai Seafood is located in a small cluster of restaurants just across the road from the beach. Lamai Seafood primarily caters to tourists, and the food is pricey compared to Roi Roi and Esan Roysoaw, but on par with the other restaurants in the area I that part of town. The reason why I decided to include Lamai Seafood is that I had a really excellent fried rice with shrimp. It was slightly moist, and the rice had absorbed the delicious seafood flavor. Hands down the best fried rice I had in Karon Beach. Mains start at 90 THB.
Lamai Seafood, Karon beach
My guide to restaurants in Karon beach also used to include Roi Roi below, but I am not sure they are still in business. If you are in Karon Beach, maybe you could check for me?
Roi Roi is a very nice little place with an extensive menu of affordable Thai food. I noticed how tidy they kept the restaurant, and to me, that’s usually a good predictor of how the food is. If you’re meticulous about cleanliness, chances are big you’re also meticulous when it comes to preparing the food. I had an excellent papaya salad with seafood and a perfect plate of sticky rice with mango for dessert. Everything was made from fresh, crispy ingredients and so tasty I wish I had brought a bigger appetite. Roi Roi is a Muslim restaurant, so all food is halal, and they don’t serve pork. Most dishes are 150-170THB