From the streets to the shophouses to the most sumptuous high-end restaurants, Hua Hin is a serious eater’s paradise. Do yourself a favour—avoid the Golden Arches, the familiar crown and crest of Burger King, the insipid Thai food tourist traps, and all the indistinguishable pan-Euro restaurants littering the little alleys off Naresdamri Road. Go straight for the good stuff.
For many, a trip to Hua Hin starts at the clock tower off Phet Kasem Road. Naturally, food is not far from this famous drop-off point. As vans and taxis roll in, hordes of hungry travellers, drivers, and locals hunt around for the closest meal. Around the corner from the clocktower, at the intersection of Naeb Kehardt Alley and Soi 57, is the constantly-teeming Jek Piah, a Thai-Chinese house-based hotspot that has been serving khao tom, sautéed scallops, fresh satay with peanut sauce, and all kinds of sweet iced drinks for over 50 years. It has no English signage, but you’ll recognize it by its dark wooden panels and massive crowds.
Go back to this very same intersection in the morning for freshly fried patongko (called “youtiao” in Chinese-speaking nations) and steamed sala pao and pork dumplings.
Down the road, at the intersection of Hua Hin 55, stands a covered canteen serving a range of downright superb Thai dishes, including some top-notch som tam. On weeknights, a small market opens on Soi 55/1. A standout choice here is the dessert stall, where Thais flock for classic khanom, including bua loy and even the famous mango sticky rice. Across the road from here, a small covered canteen serves a good bowl of jok, perfect for slow mornings. One made-to-order stall stays open for lunch, making a particularly delicious crabmeat omelette.
By the pier, Saeng Thai Seafood stands conspicuous each night, as a convoy of cars pulls into the sprawling parking lot to enjoy fresh seafood al fresco, with the salt breeze of the gulf carrying the scent of wok-fried red snapper. Just up the road on Naresdamri Alley is the quaint Brasserie de Paris, serving—you guessed it—well-executed French cuisine with great wine and even more satisfying sea views. It’s also a fine choice for breakfast.
No trip to Hua Hin would be complete without a visit to the now completely overwhelming, but still gastronomically gratifying, Chatsila Market, known simply as the Night Market. Here humble chefs become streetside superstars as they send eyebrow- and eyelash-threatening flames high into the night air with the flick of the wrist, stir-frying fresh crab, rock lobster, and tiger prawns with herbs and spices and curry pastes. Ignore the entertainment, take a seat, and open the menu. From seafood stalwarts like Lung Ja to less-heralded gems like Ko Seafood, cheap and fantastic shophouse joints line the street, selling sea bass and snapper for as little as B250 and whole lobster for a reasonable B1500.
But you can also eat well in style and comfort, too. The just-opened Shoreline Beach Club at the Amari Hua Hin, for one, delivers contemporary fusion food (heavy on the seafood) with graceful plating. The wood-fried pizza is of particular mention, as the restaurant brought in a pizza pro to train staff in producing the perfect charred crusts and tender toppings. And don’t miss the 12-year-old Let’s Sea, the restaurant that predates the boutique of the same name. The menu spans the continents, serving a good selection of Western fare, including a wonderful duck breast with raspberry sauce, but the best bites might just be the Thai dishes.
Still hungry? Turn the pages to read about two other top options—Rim Talay andAndreas.