To market, to market
Many tourists visit Phuket without actually getting to Phuket Town. Don’t make that mistake. The local food market, particularly the wet market, is an artery that goes straight to the heart of a community: a divining rod for the local food culture. Talad Kaset is a great experience for any food nut — raw, real and heaps of fun.
Go early in the morning, before it gets too hot, when all the fresh seafood has come from the town’s docks, where boats have come in at 3am to have their haul sorted and bought. The market actually opens at 2am, but we’d recommend being there around 7am when things are in full swing. But give yourself at least an hour: Talad Kaset is the complete Thai food market catastrophe.
You will find every conceivable piece of fresh chicken and pig, skinned frogs, mighty piles of different shrimp pastes, live birds, whole fish, dried fish, butchered fish, fried fish, shellfish, live eels and frogs, live tortoises, crabs, quail, herbs, fruit and vegies of mysterious identity, plus a stall devoted to the production of fresh coconut cream with a massive machine.
Some of it ain’t pretty; the faces of the vendors, however, will put a song in your heart.
And, of course, you can eat at the market, too. Inside there are plenty of local breakfast options, both sit-down street food stalls and takeaway stalls.
Many of the market vendors are Muslim and the foods reflect that, plus the southern nature of the island. On offer are the likes of roti served with curry sauce on the side and a filling of egg; sticky rice with coconut cream and jackfruit; khao tom mad, banana and black beans sprinkled with sticky rice and coconut milk, steamed.
Gird your loins and have a go. And if you happen to be self-catering on your Thai visit, shop till you drop, spend very little, and go home and cook like David Thompson.
Address: Thanon Ong Sim Phai, Mueang Phuket, Phuket, Thailand The author was flown to Thailand by Tourism Thailand and was a guest at Iniala Beach House.
Many of the vendors at Phuket’s busy Talad Kaset are Muslim