Thailand Special: The Best and Worst of Halal Food

Spend just two weeks in Thailand, and you will come to appreciate a great many things. You will fall in love with its clear, blue waters, be taken aback by its gorgeous, tropical islands, and for the first time in your life, you will come to understand the wisdom behind the infamous Thai phrase: “same same, but different”. In fact, being a dentist in the making, I have come to utilise this phrase in my every day work. “How’s my brushing?” Same same, but different. “Silver filling or white filling?” Same same, but different. “Which toothpaste should I use?” Same same. Not different.

For the Muslim traveller, Thailand is certainly an experience to be had. But, what of halal food? If, like myself, the thought of a week without meat makes you froth at the mouth and spasm uncontrollably, you’ll be pleased to hear that unlike other countries in the Far-East, Thailand actually has a reasonable number of halal eateries. Below, I’ve prepared a summary of some affordable and halal / halal-friendly options that I managed to find in Bangkok and Phuket, ranging from the “good’, the “not so bad”, and the downright “ugly”. You can also find some other halal restaurants that I didn’t manage to visit on the Steak And Teeth International Map.

Note: Please reconfirm the halal status of each restaurant when visiting.

Bangkok: The Good

Rasa Khas (Full Halal Menu):

The first restaurant to be included in this summary is not a Thai restaurant at all, but rather, an Indonesian restaurant with a suitably tailored decor. The menu features a number of traditional Indonesian dishes, and the chef does well to bring out a good range of flavours. However, expect all and any meat to be a little tough and overcooked, and be prepared for a headache too, as the restaurant loops an endless track of ringing bells that will probably drive you insane. If you do visit, do not think about leaving until you’ve tried the cendol drink – made with cendol (a green rice-flour jelly), coconut milk, and palm sugar. Believe me when I say that this was the best drink I had on the trip.

wp-1482601675344.jpgBeef rendang (300 baht (£6.80) w/ rice) – a little tough, but strong, rich flavours

wp-1482601602316.jpgChicken satay (200 Baht (£4.50) for 10 skewers)

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Cendol, Palm Sugar, and Coconut Milk. Heaven. (70 baht (£1.60)

NOTE: Rasa Khas was originally located on Soi 23, but has now moved to Soi 22, and can be found near a fire station. The restaurant also  also accepts VISA and Mastercard.

Address: Soi 22, Khwaeng Khlong Toei, Khet Khlong Toei, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10110, Thailand
Telephone: +66 2 108 5437

Food: 3.5/5
Value For Money: 3.5/5
Service: 4/5
Decor/Ambience: 3/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Saman Islam – Chatuchak Market (Full Halal Menu):

Chatuchak market – (also referred to as “Jatujak” or “JJ” market), is an extremely popular destination for shopaholics and bargain hunters, and if you need to take a break from haggling, you can head over to Saman Islam. This streetfood-style eatery serves up some simple grub, and can be found near the clock tower at the centre of the market. I tried the beef-fried rice and the spicy mango and papaya salad, and whilst neither dish was particularly mind-blowing, it was a pretty hearty and satisfying meal.

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Spicy mango and papaya salad

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Beef-fried rice

Address: 251, Phahonyothin Rd, Chom Phon, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900, Thailand

Food: 3/5
Value: 3/5
Service/Speed: 5/5
Overall: 3/5

Coco JJ – Chatuchak Market:

Another place to visit if you’re in Chatuchak market, is Coco JJ. The original vendor of coconut ice creams, various Coco JJ stalls can now be found dotted around the market. Surprisingly, the original coconut ice cream was rather weak and underwhelming, but luckily, they also serve a Thai tea flavour that is truly delightful.

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Thai tea ice cream and coconut ice cream

You can also find various other coconut ice cream vendors throughout the city. Essentially, they’re all just made up of regular coconut ice cream in a coconut shell, but hey, when you’re on holiday, you have to indulge in the novelty!

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Coconut ice cream with chocolate sauce

Coffee Beans By Dao (Seafood):

A chain of bakeries/coffee-shops/restaurants, Coffee Beans By Dao was a random eatery that we stumbled into, and it actually turned out to be a great find. There are no halal items on the menu, but there are plenty of delicious seafood options. I tried the spicy shrimp and red bean broth, as well as a traditional Pad Thai, and both carried surprisingly rich flavours. Desserts are also in abundant supply, though these seem to be a little more on the average side of life.

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Shrimp Pad Thai (240 Baht / £5.40)

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Shrimp Red Bean Broth

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Blueberry cheesecake (120 baht / £2.70)

Address: Ekamai and various other branches. (See here).

Food: 4/5
Value For Money: 3.5/5
Service: 2.5/5
Decor/Ambience: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Steve Cafe and Cuisine (Seafood):

Steve Cafe is another restaurant without any halal meat on the menu, but it simply had to make it onto this guide on account of its unique location. Overlooking the Chao Praya river, this cosy little eatery sports a fantastic night-time view of the Rama VIII bridge, making it a perfectly romantic spot in which to dine with your other half. Unfortunately, I had the company of four male friends – and fairly ugly ones at that. Luckily, the food proved to be a better sight, and the assortment of items we sampled were reasonably satisfying.

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(They literally turned off the lovely lights on the bridge as soon as I took my camera out -.-)

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Pandan juice – Yes you heard me!

wp-1482602776782.jpg(Very) Spicy salmon (200 baht / £4.53)

wp-1482602833448.jpgShrimp Pad Thai (140 baht / £3.17)

Address: 68 Sri Ayudhaya Road, Soi Sri Ayudhaya 21 (Devet), Vachiraphayabaan, Bangkok 10300
Telephone: +66 2 281 0915

Food: 3.5/5
Value For Money: 3.5/5
Service: 4/5
Decor/Ambience: 4.5/5
Overall: 4/5

Mango Tango – Siam Paragon

Located in close proximity to Siam Paragon and MBK mall, (Bangkok’s retail heart), Mango Tango is, as the name would suggest, a dessert bar dedicated to all things mango. Here, you can grab a mango smoothie, scoop up a mango parfait, or get stuck in with a traditional plate of mango and sticky rice.

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Mango Parfait

Address: 1 Pathum Wan Rama 1rd, Siam Square Soi 3, Pathum Wan, Bangkok 10330
Telephone: +66 2 658 4660

Food: 4/5
Value For Money: 4/5
Service: 3.5/5
Decor/Ambience: 4.5/5
Overall: 4/5

Yana Restaurant – MBK Center (Full Halal Menu)

Across the road from Siam Paragon, you will of course, find the famous MBK Center, and with it, a food court on the fifth floor with a fair number of halal eateries. Just outside this court, is Yana restaurant, a Thai restaurant with a full halal menu. There’s nothing ground-breaking about the food here, but they do manage to serve up a very satisfying beef pad thai.

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Beef Pad Thai (160 bhat / £3.62)

Food: 3.5/5
Value For Money: 4/5
Service: 3.5/5
Decor/Ambience: 3/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Street Food Pad Thai

Of course, as I’m sure many other people will tell you, the best Pad Thai experience you can hope to have in Bangkok is not at a restaurant, but at a humble street food stall. Fear not, the clutches of “traveller’s bowel” will not take a hold of you – if you choose wisely. Because street food pad thai is made from scratch, the flavours and aromas are usually second to none, but finding a halal vendor will prove to be a difficult task – (I certainly never found one). You can however, find vendors that serve up a shrimp pad thai, and don’t serve pork or other haraam meats alongside them, so be on the lookout for these.

Generic advice for street food in Thailand, (or in any country for that matter), is to always choose the most popular vendors. Street food stalls or restaurants that are empty, usually are so for a reason – (everybody who ate there is either on a toilet, or dead). 

Bangkok: The Not So Bad

Ali’s Arabic – MBK Mall (Full halal menu)

Also located on the “Fifth Food Avenue” of MBK, is Ali’s Arabic, a halal vendor that serves a range of Middle-Eastern, Indian, and Thai dishes. If you’re from a South-Asian or Middle-Eastern background, it’s a good place to visit if you begin to miss the comfort of “home food”. The food isn’t overwhelmingly impressive, but you can expect a reasonable halal meal at the very least.

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Chicken Malai (425 Baht / £9.62)

Food: 3/5
Value For Money: 3/5
Service/Speed: 4/5
Overall: 3/5

Jimbaran Bali – MBK Mall (Full halal menu)

Right next door to Ali’s, you’ll also find a halal Indonesian vendor by the name of Jimbaran Bali. The food here is generally overcooked and dry, and there’s very little in the way of flavours, but if you’re in Bangkok and have an inexplicable craving for crispy fried duck, this will serve as a reasonable pit stop.

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Chicken satay (160 baht / £3.62)

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Crispy Fried Duck (350 baht / £5.66)

Food: 3/5
Value for Money: 3.5/5
Service/Speed: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Home Cuisine Islamic Restaurant (Full halal menu)

Purported to be one of the best halal restaurants in Bangkok, my experience at Home Cuisine wasn’t overly enchanting, owing mainly to the low quality of the meats utilised. Still, you can expect to find a number of traditional Thai dishes with very strong and spicy flavours, all for a cheap and cheerful price.

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Chicken kebabs, Beef Red Curry, and Beef Green Curry

Address: 186 Charoen Krung 36, Bangrak District, Bangkok 10500, Thailand

Food: 2.5/5
Value For Money: 3/5
Service: 2.5/5
Decor/Ambience: 3/5
Overall: 3/5

Sinthorn Korean Steakhouse (Full Halal Menu)

Further to the east in Bang Kapi, lies Sinthorn, a halal Korean steakhouse and banqueting hall, which feels more like a Muslim community compound than a restaurant.  Here, you can choose between two styles of dining – an outdoor Korean BBQ buffet, and a regular indoor steakhouse menu. Unfortunately, the outdoor BBQ was not in action when we visited, and so, we headed to the indoor restaurant. Here, the steaks weren’t of a particularly good quality and this amounted to a fairly mediocre experience. If you do choose to visit, call ahead and ensure the outdoor BBQ is on, as this could prove to be a better experience than the restaurant menu.

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Iorna T-Bone Steak (380 baht / £8.63)

Address: 3333-, 134/9 Ramkhamhaeng Rd, Hua Mak, Bang Kapi, Bangkok 10240, Thailand
Telephone: +66 2 377 7322

Food: 2.5/5
Value For Money: 3/5
Service: 3.5/5
Decor/Ambience: 3/5
Overall: 2.5/5

Bangkok: The Ugly

Sara Restaurant (Full halal menu)

At some point in the last few years, Sara restaurant received an award from the Thai government for serving “the best pad thai” in Bangkok. After turning up this fact during my pre-holiday reconnaissance, Sara ended up on my must-visit list. A set of dry, undercooked pad thais and dry, overcooked kebabs later, and “We Are Bartans” hurled non-stop abuse at me for bringing them here over the next four months. Perhaps the chefs were having an off-day, but this is one restaurant to visit at your own risk.

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Beef satay

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“Best Pad Thai” in Bangkok? Certainly not.

Food: 2/5
Value For Money: 2/5
Service: 4/5
Decor/Ambience: 3.5/5
Overall: 2/5

Phuket: The Good

Much like Bangkok, Phuket has a whole host of halal eateries. We spent the duration of our stay in Patong, but there are a number of highly-rated eateries in other towns.

Sweet Restaurant (Halal Chicken):

Housed on a side-street off the Patong beachfront, Sweet restaurant was another random find, and I was delighted to discover that the restaurant serves halal chicken. (I would however, re-verify this when visiting). Strong flavours and quality ingredients were found across our order, and this was certainly one of the better meals of the trip.

wp-1482603562808.jpgFried Shrimp 

wp-1482603935369.jpgShrimp Pad Thai

wp-1482603795313.jpgStir-fried chicken 

wp-1482603616705.jpgChicken satay

wp-1482604000547.jpgMango and sticky rice

Address: 83150, 100/29 Soi Post Office Thaweewong Rd, Tambon Patong, Phuket
Website: thesweetrestaurant.com
Telephone: +66 80 534 6102

Food: 4/5
Value For Money: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Decor/Ambience: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

“Stir-Fried” Ice Cream Rolls

When travelling through Phuket, it’s also compulsory to try a “stir-fried” ice cream roll. Served at various vendors all across Phuket, these bowls of fun begin with an ice-cold grill and a jug of milk. Choose your flavour and your toppings, and stand back with your camera at the ready as the whole mixture is chopped up and beaten to death. At the end, you’ll end up with a bowl of sweet and refreshing ice cream rolls, and an exciting video for your Snapchat / Instagram account. So exciting in fact, that you may begin to walk away with your ice cream, your phone, and your camera, and nearly forget to pay the poor man who made it for you.

(Above): Ice-grill action. (Below): The finished product.

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Phuket: The Not So Bad

Cafe Siam Guesthouse (Halal available on request)

If you’re craving a hearty “Western” breakfast, feel free to stop by Cafe Siam, a small guesthouse that can be found around the corner from the Royal Paradise Hotel. Portions are generous, and the lovely Australian owner is extremely welcoming and helpful. Pork is served on the premises, but is stored and cooked separately to non-meat items. After serving my vegetarian omelette, the owner enquired as to whether I was Muslim, and upon hearing that I was, informed me that she stocks halal chicken breast for the occasional Muslim guest. So, if you do want some halal meat in your breakfast, do be sure to ask for it.

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Omlette-galore

Address: 141/5 Soi Royal Paradise, Ratuthit SongRoy Pee Road, Patong, Phuket
Telephone:+66 81 676 9411


Food: 3.5/5
Value For Money: 3.5/5
Service: 5/5
Decor/Ambience: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Phuket: The Ugly

Salt and Pepper (Full Halal Menu)

As much as a holiday is about experiencing everything that another culture has to offer, there’s no shame in admitting that occasionally, we miss “the taste” of home. For me, that moment came in Phuket, and to alleviate my curry-craving, I dragged Ulcer and Afroman to Salt and Pepper, a hybrid Indian and Thai restaurant on the Patong beachfront. Here, we encountered rude and obnoxious waiters, and small bowls of curries that were, for the most part, just “curries”, (with very little meat in them). What’s worse, is that each of them cost £8-£10 each, which, (relative to their size), was downright extortionate for a single dish in Thailand. Needless to say, this is one to avoid altogether.

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Lamb Madras

Food: 2.5/5
Value For Money: 1.5/5
Service: 1/5
Decor/Ambience: 2/5
Overall: 2/5

And there we have it, a quick run-through of my restaurant tour of Bangkok and Phuket. There are of course, many other halal restaurants to be found, and given that I left Steak behind for this particular adventure, I have no doubt that I’ll be feasting my way around Thailand again in the near future. For those of you planning your own trip to Thailand – have a great time, and let us know if you stumble across any great halal eateries!

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