Treat yourself to a fish feast at one of Krabi’s top seafood eateries
You may be forgiven for thinking that, as Krabi is next to the sea, it must be easy to find great seafood. True, there are any number of establishments in the tourist beach areas with the ubiquitous “red snapper” (actually barramundi or pangasius / basa fish) and farmed jumbo prawns laid out on ice. They all serve quite good food that will satisfy the vast majority of visitors.
But what if you are a seafood aficionado who would not allow a farmed or previously frozen fish to taint your palate? Unfortunately, you may have to go a bit further afield: dedicated fish restaurants that have both a wide range of produce direct from the sea, and a turnover high enough to guarantee prime freshness, are few and far between and, of course, offerings vary from day to day and across the year. The majority of restaurants will carry a range of farmed and wild fish to guarantee menu availability – just avoid the “snapper” and tiger prawns and you should be fine.
Below, we list some places we think are worth seeking out. Note: as many are off the beaten track, you should really be into your seafood to visit. All of them offer live seafood – essential for shellfish and crabs – and all are also frequented by locals, which ensures high turnaround as well as reasonable prices. You can budget around 400 or 500 baht per person for a filling meal, though prices will escalate rapidly once you start ordering things such as lobster and langoustines. Prices are usually marked by weight and you can ask for rough prices before you order.
As a matter of principle, please do not eat in any restaurants that serve shark, or any other reef fish. These creatures are endangered in local waters and should not be being served up in soup. Restaurants in Koh Phi Phi and in Ao Nang are common culprits. If you do see a shark on ice, please voice your concern. Only if consumers protest, will the restaurants stop.
Laem Sak Seafood
Laem Sak Seafood is at the end of a very long road, starting from Ao Luk and ending at the sea. Yet people from all over the province will happily drive the 30km stretch to sample the delights of this unassuming restaurant.
Why? For a start, Laem Sak is one of the region’s best fishing ports. The restaurant has the pick of the daily local catches, including huge oysters (available year round), the southern Thai speciality of pu dam (black mud crabs, with enormous, juicy claws) as well as glistening squid and wonderfully tender soft-shelled crabs (pu nim). All fish can be simply steamed or grilled, or else served Thai-style in a spicy salad or curry.
Need more reasons? It’s cheap and the view is amazing. Turn left onto Route 4039 at the Ao Luk crossroads and go straight until you hit Laem Sak school. The restaurant is 20m on the left. Make a day of it by visiting the caves at Bor Thor on the way.
Laem Sak Pier, Ao Luk. Open daily 10am – 9pm
Thara Kitchen (Krua Thara) has perhaps the best selection of seafood in Ao Nang, with a particularly large range of local shellfish. Cooked Thai style, stir-fried with basil and chilli, or in a salad, these are sublime. If you like plain steamed shellfish, try the delicious Krabi native hawy chakteen.
Most days, there are also good crabs and sometimes even lobster available – look in the tanks at the front of the restaurant.
Krua Thara is part of a seafood strip catering mainly to Thai tourists on Nopparat Thara Beach. There is a sign saying “After Tsunami” outside, rather bizarrely as there was no structural damage from the waves here at all. They have also opened a second branch, around 800m further up the road into Klong Haeng Village.
Next to National Park HQ, Nopparat Thara. Open daily 11am – 9pm
Wang Sai Seafood
Wang Sai is one of these mega-seafood restaurants, with dozens of waiters and seating for hundreds of people. It enjoys a beachfront location and is usually packed every night.
Tanks at the entrance to the restaurant are filled with four or five varieties of fish, as well as crabs and clams. Unfortunately, the English menu is only a partial translation of the much wider Thai menu and so does not include some great salads such as yam thaleh makheua pao (seafood with chargrilled aubergine) or catfish red curry (pad phet pla duuk). However, you are welcome to ask for whatever you want.
This place is very popular with visiting Thai tourists, so expect some large groups, though service is usually fast. Walk from Ao Nang in the direction of Nopparat Thara. Wang Sai is located just across the bridge.
Nopparat Thara Beach. Open daily 10am – 10pm
Ao Nang Seafood Street
This covered boardwalk at the far end of the beach, near Wannas Place (The L Resort) has been revamped in recent years and now, instead of a defrosted catch of the day from the local supermarket, you will find many restaurants here serving fresh fish and seafood, in an enviable location overlooking the water – go at sunset time for incredible views across to the islands. Seek out fish that cannot be cultivated, such as king mackerel or barracuda, for the tastiest dishes.
There are five or six restaurants along the strip and our favourites include The Crab Company; The Longtail Boat; and Chaba Kitchen, a more local-style restaurant, which shares the amazing views.
Ao Nang Beach. Open daily 10am – 10pm
Occupying a corner spot on Uttarakit (the riverside road) in Krabi Town, nearby the more famous Pu Dam restaurant, this low-key eatery has some of the freshest seafood in town. The restaurant itself is a fairly new arrival on the scene (opened in late 2016 under the name “Sui Seafood”) but it is owned by a veteran restaurateur and foodie. You won’t find any farmed fish or shrimp here, and all dishes are cooked with the mastery that comes from years of experience. It is hard to cook squid to perfection, but 249 Corner manages it.
The focus is on Thai style dishes such as delicate clay pot mussels, or sharply flavoured baby squid salad, but it is also possible to have plain grilled or fried seafood with various dipping sauces, or even Chinese-style steamed mullet – all is good here.
Corner of Uttarakit and Luangpho Roads, Krabi Town. Open daily 10am – 10pm.
Tha Sai Seafood
Technically in Phang Nga province (just over the border with Krabi), this charming riverside restaurant makes a good stop on the way to or from Phuket.
Arranged over several levels on the river bank, all tables overlook the wide, mangrove-lined waterway and the hills of Phang Nga; and a ‘waterfall wall’ adds to the peaceful ambience. The seafood, of course, is excellent – the place is always packed with Thai people at the weekend – and comes in a good variety of dishes, such as the southern Thai curry kaeng som; some spicy salads; and delicous stir-fried crab claws.
If you prefer your seafood simply prepared, they are also able to grill, steam or bake without spices. The restaurant has a big signboard on the main road or take a left turn to Ban Tha Sai.
On the road from Krabi to Phuket, turn left at Ban Tha Sai. Open daily till 7pm
Best of the rest
Lae Lay Grill is a very expensive, but still popular seafood restaurant in Ao Nang, while at the other extreme Aree Seafood near the Nong Nuch pier in Krabi Town is the place local Thai people go to eat – it’s extremely basic, but very fresh. Many Thai restaurants such as Ruen Mai and Bai Toey in town, will also carry a good selection of fresh fish and seafood without specifically advertising themselves as seafood restaurants.
pu : crab
pla kabawk : mullet
pla kapong : barramundi / Asian seabass, usually misnamed as “snapper” and often sourced from local farms
pla insee : kingfish, a firm fleshed fish usually served as steaks
pla sai : sandfish, like whitebait, eaten whole
pla tu / lang : mackerel
pla mong : trevally, excellent fried or curried
pla dook : catfish, both fresh and saltwater varieties
hawy maeng pu : mussels
hawy chakteen : dog conch, a native Krabi shellfish
hawy nang rom : oysters
hawy waan : clams
hawy greng : cockles
kung mangkorn : lobster
kung : prawn, shrimp, mostly farmed – those that are not will be called “kung ta-lay”
pla meuk (khai) : squid (with roe, a local delicacy)