Zaab Tae Tae Restaurant
UPDATE NOVEMBER 2017 - I think this place has closed, but there is a branch with a similar name (Sarapad Zaab) in the Central Festival mall.
People often ask where they can get "real" Thai food in Phuket. It can be hard to find a restaurant at the main tourist beaches that does anything really authentic because the Thai food served at a restaurant that caters to tourists does tend to be somewhat bland, plus if you have a restaurant that claims to offer "Thai food, Seafood, Pizza, Pasta, Burgers ... " it's not likely to be all good! For real Thai food, you have to eat where the locals eat. Many of the restaurants recommended on this blog are places that don't see too many tourists. As a family, we don't go to eat at Patong beach or any of the main beaches. And since we live close to Phuket Town, that's where we tend to eat most often, and Phuket Town is a good area to find good Thai food.
Zaab Tae Tae is just outside town, next to the Index mall, just off the main road that runs from the Central Festival Mall to Tesco Lotus. Doesn't sound like a great location, but very convenient for us, only a few minutes from our house. The restaurant specialises in Isaan and Northern Thai food, most of which is spicy! The word Zaab is a Northern slang word for tasty (you'd normally say Aroy) and Tae Tae means "very very", also Northern slang, whereas you'd normally say Mak Mak. The location is good for local people who work in the area and it's always been fairly busy when we have eaten there. It's indoors and airconditioned, a bug plus on a hot day!
(above) Zaab Tae Tae entrance.
There's room for about 40 people inside and it's nicely decorated and comfortable, we find the staff to be friendly and even the bathroom is fresh and clean. The menu does have English translations though I am not sure how much English the staff speak.
The menu is quite large, but don't expect to find things like sandwiches here. It's mostly spicy North or Northeastern (Isaan) food. There are quite a few restaurants in Phuket doing this kind of food as it is very popular throughout Thailand, plus Phuket attracts a lot of people from that area looking for work. Another one we like that does good Isaan food is the Big Chicken. My wife is a big fan of the Somtam that they make here. Never been a fan myself, but somtam is one of the most popular foods in Thailand and can be made with many different ingredients and does tend to be very spicy!
(above) Somtam at Zaab Tae Tae. My wife gets a version called Tam Sua. It's spicy even for her! I'd only order this if you are used to spicy Thai food and want to try something hardcore!
My favourite Isaan food is Laab, a kind of spicy, herby salad, normally made with some kind of meat. You can get laab with chicken, fish, beef, pork, and the one below is made with a kind of Isaan sausage called Sai Krok. My taste buds explode with delight :)
On our last visit I also ordered some spicy pork, which was also super tasty. Actually I think I ordered Moo Dad Deow, which is a kind of fried dried pork, but I've not seen it looking like this before, it's normally more like jerky. I'll have to order it again to be sure :)
And my wife also ordered an omelette made with mussels (Hoy Tod). Another thing I have never been a fan of! I am not allergic to shellfish, but generally don't like to eat any, which is a shame, as shellfish dishes are common at local seafood restaurants in this area.
And more food photos from a visit a few days later ...
(above) This is Yam Moo Yo - Spicy Salad with Vietnamese Sausage.
(above) Very very tasty spicy fried chicken wings.
And this delicious plate which they call Khao Pad Isaan (Isaan Fried Rice). Too many good things to choose from here! I have to say that for me, eating out is sometimes a compromise between location, food and price. Great food at a good price (4 different dishes for my wife and I, total under 400 Baht) wins over location in this case. I mean, location is convenient for us, but for sure there's no great view! We have a few regular places within 10 minutes drive of our house and this has become one of them!
More favourite restaurants in the Phuket Town area :
Krua Suan Cha
Zaab Tae Tae - Location Map