After my post yesterday about how much you should realistically be spending whilst volunteering with Starfish Volunteers, I got a couple of messages about good places to eat in town, so this is my list about good places to go. I was going to post the ‘bad’ list of places to go but that just seemed a bit mean to me haha So I thought I would just give you a run down of some of the most popular places to eat near your volunteer accommodation as well as in the town of Surin.
Food is one of the things that Surin is famous for and I can certainly see why from the amazing and cheap food the locals make everyday, I could eat constantly here and never be tired of the beautiful and locally sourced meals. I would like to point out that I don’t eat western food so the restaurants and places I visit are primarily Thai, some of them do offer some Western food but when in Rome do as the Romans do right?
My daily Pineapple consumption
My hands down favourite place to eat is the ‘Pineapple Place’. This is a small restaurant that is set off the side of the road near the volunteer houses and the staff office, it is a two minute walk from both locations and will be the best two minute walk of your life as it ends at this restaurant. Everyone knows my favourite dish is their ‘Chicken Fried Rice with Garlic and Pineapple and an Omelette’, but if this doesn’t tickle your fancy then you can also try their ‘Pad Kee Mao’ which is known as ‘Drunk Noodles’ if you literally translate it.
A yummy plate of Pad Kee Mao
No it doesn’t contain alcohol so you won’t be getting drunk off it I’m afraid. It is basically pork that is cooked with a whole load of Thai magic including fish sauce, basil and a little chili, it is then served with either noodles or most typically rice. It’s super tasty and always a crowd pleaser! You could also try their ‘Pork and Basil’ dish which is beautiful, it is known as ‘Cow Pad Krapao Moo’ by the locals and is a rice based dish with pork and lots of basil.
The best thing to do at this restaurant is play food roulette, which is basically where you just point to something on the menu that is all written in Thai and you have to eat what you given to you, the dishes are normally between 35-50฿.
I love every meal that Goi makes but her Goi Djab is the best thing in the world!!
Another great local place is Goi’s, she is the sister of one of my best friends and makes the very best ‘Pad Thai’ and ‘Goi Djab’, everyone knows what Pad Thai is and ‘Goi Djab’ is a thick noodle soup dish with chicken and pork with lots of garlic and beansprouts. I have eaten Goi Djab every place I have travelled in Thailand and no place has even been close to the one that Goi makes, make sure you try it out, all of Goi’s meals are around 35-50฿ each.
Another very Thai thing to have for dinner is DIY BBQ, near the volunteer accommodation is an all you can eat version of this where you pay 140฿ and you basically just go and pick up the raw ingredients you want to use and use the pan/dish heated by hot coals in the middle of your table to cook it all. You can do it as simply or as complicated as you like, I love to get chicken, bacon and one or two pieces of fat to keep the pan from burning and just cook it all with the soup around the base which I add loads of sweetcorn, basil, kale and morning glory too. I also make sure to have a huge supply of pineapple on hand as well, as everyone knows I need to eat pineapple everyday!!
BBQ is a very popular dinner event for Thais, no two pans ever look the same haha
You do share your pan with other people on your table so just be aware if they don’t like anything like seafood, beef or even meat at all. I always make sure not to sit with the people I know are going to cook seafood as I don’t want to throw up on them 🙂 it certainly is interesting to pay to cook your own food, just make sure you don’t pick up more food than you can eat as you get charged for anything you leave.
If you fancy more of a restaurant/bar to eat at then volunteers normally end up at ‘Up’ which is a nice place that serves mostly Thai food but also some Western food, their prices are normally 80-200฿, so it isn’t the cheapest place and is notoriously slow when it comes to making food. The atmosphere is great though, they have big screen projectors that show all the football matches and they have several local bands playing every night as well.
I promise you it tastes better than it looks 🙂
A lovely restaurant called ‘Corner Garden’ is defiantly more of a restaurant type place, you eat outside in a beautifully made garden and can eat anything from ‘Snake Head Fish’ to ‘Who Make Her Pregnant’, admittedly they don’t have the best translation but they have a very large menu of traditional and modern Thai food that is similarly priced to Up. Tony Jaa, the famous Muay Thai actor and fighter, basically Thai Jackie Chan, is seen regularly at this restaurant as well! Corner Garden is about a 10-15 minute walk from the volunteer houses but is definitely worth every step.
Don’t let the rugged look of street vendors deter you from trying out the food
Everywhere in Thailand has food carts that make several delicious meals for diners who sit on plastic chairs and eat and makeshift tables, I love to eat at places like this as they make amazing, cheap food. My favourite one in Surin is the number 4 noodle place outside of the Vocational College in town. It doesn’t have a name, it is just a stand in front of a print shop that has a number 4 in the bowl of noodles pictured on the top of the cart. The noodles and dumplings here are absolutely incredible and cheap at 35฿ as well, seats are very limited so if you want to try this place try to go at the quieter times of the day so you can sit down and enjoy their beautiful food.
Street food is so tasty and very diverse, chicken and pork on sticks are the norm here in Surin
If you aren’t feeling Thai food for the day and you want some Western food then honestly I am not the best person to help you find it haha I don’t eat Western food as I feel it doesn’t have as much flavour as Thai food and certainly is not as healthy for you. But, if you are just desperate for a burger or some chips then you can venture to either of our 2 KFC’s, one is in Big C and the other is at Surin Plaza. You could also try Chesters Grill which is found in town, next to the Apple store, they sell spaghetti there which is actually pretty good and even comes with garlic bread!!
Chesters Grill is a Thai company that makes Western food with Thai influence
Volunteers often like to eat at a place called Starbeam,which is run by a foreigner and they serve lots of Western food for reasonable prices, it isn’t the 30฿ of street restaurants but it can be as much as 150-300฿ for meal. There are also other Western food restaurants in Surin, one called Green Mango that we occasionally take volunteers to for their welcome meal, but like I have said before, why travel half way around the world to eat and do what you could do in your home country. Immerse yourself in the local food culture and you certainly won’t regret it.
The nightmarket sells everything from food to DVD’s and clothes
Every village, town and city in Thailand has several different kinds of markets, wether it be shopping or food related. I would always encourage you to go and visit the local night market, near the train station, and sample all of the delights that they have there. The great thing about the night market is that a lot of the food available is small sizes so you can try and experience lots of things without getting to much of a food baby. You can try everything from local sushi to a traditional dessert made from banana leaves and sugar, chicken skin to ice cold smoothies and every kind of meat on a stick to crunchy pancakes. Volunteers love to challenge each other to eat the bugs here and I can honestly tell you that they aren’t that bad, yes they are crunchy and have a slightly odd taste to them, but in general they just taste like soy sauce and salt.
All restaurants by their vegetables and ingredients from local night markets
But no matter what you choose to have for lunch and dinner, just remember that variety is the spice of life and if you never try anything new from a different culture, then you will be hugely missing out. Countries are so diverse because of their culture but also because of their food, in Thailand, food IS part of their culture. I always get greeted in the morning by the house cleaner Lek by her asking what I have eaten so far today. Thais eat all day and love to do so, which has resulted in the amazing evolution of their food culture, don’t let something out of the ordinary scare you into not venturing out of your comfort zone; the first day I was in Thailand I ate a cockroach and honestly it was the open door to a whole slue of other weird eating habits and experiences 😀
Markets are a huge meeting point and are enjoyed by everyone from school girls on their way home to people who just fancy something different for dinner
Just enjoy your time and even if you do have a bad eating experience then you can always look back on it later and realise it was actually hilarious and something that will then bring a smile to your face instead of a frown.
If you want to experience all this beautiful Thai food with me then you will need to sign up to one of our incredible volunteer projects, take a look at our Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand for what you can do. Have a look at the Tumblr if you are wanting some inspiration about which project to choose.
Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto