As part of our pre-trip planning, we did some research on dining options that were available at Ao Nang. Principally, we prioritised food options near Holiday Inn Krabi, as distance was a key factor to consider when you are travelling with young kids. We also consulted blogs, guide books, and Trip Advisor.
Here are some reviews of the eateries we ate in.
May & Zin
We arrived in Ao Nang in the afternoon, so for our first dinner, we wanted somewhere near the hotel. We settled on May & Zin, which was very favourably reviewed on Trip Advisor. It is a 3 minutes walk from our hotel entrance, and part of the food center that was next to Holiday Inn.
We ordered Pad Thai, stir fried beef, an omelette, pandan-wrapped chicken, and crispy noodles.
It says a lot that the best dish of the night was the omelette. The beef was overdone, and some of the pandan-wrapped chicken tasted raw and full of flour. Maybe we were not used to the Thai version of the Pad Thai, but it was quite sweet for the Singapore palate.
So while others may have had a good experience, we did not have one at May & Zin. So dine there with caution.
Mango Sticky Rice (from Sala Satay stall)
After a disappointing meal at May & Zin, we had to reward ourselves with some dessert. We ordered a plate of mango sticky rice at a nearby stall. A plate cost 80 Baht, which was very affordable compared to Bangkok’s prices.
Believe it or not, it was one of the best Mango Sticky Rice dishes we had. We realised that the differentiating factor was that the rice was served warm. Eating warm rice together with the sweet mango was amazing!
It was so good that we had 2 plates of Mango Sticky Rice the next day!
Syogun Japanese-ish food
At the same food center of May & Zin is an air-conditioned Japanese eatery. They sell Ramen and Japanese rice dishes. Compared to Singapore, the prices were affordable. The food was edible, but do not expect the standards of Mikuni nor Tonkichi. The food is just meant to fill the stomach, so that you can move on. Guess the key selling point here is that it was air-conditioned.
Closer to the end of our trip, we decided to venture further away from our hotel. One of the restaurants we visited was Umberto’s Cuisine, an Italian restaurant which was favourably rated on Trip Advisor.
It was an 8 minutes walk from our hotel. However, to save the naggling from the kids, we decided to take a 2 minutes Songthaew ride to the restaurant, which costs us S$6. When we arrived for lunch, the restaurant was totally empty! Did we make a right decision?
To hedge our bets, we proceeded to order cautiously. A prosciutto pizza, a ribeye steak and a plate of ravioli.
It turned out that this was one of the best eateries that we ate at Ao Nang. The ravioli easily rivalled any that we have ever eaten, including in Singapore. It was firm, yet light. The fillings were tasty. The thin crust pizza was very good too! We could taste the freshness of the ingredients used. The steak, while not exceptional, was decent. However, the steak was not evenly cooked. We asked for the steak to be done medium rare; some parts of the steak were, but other parts were well done.
We were delighted with our experience that we proceeded to order the desserts. We shared a bowl of Tiramisu and Panna Cotta. Both were very good!
After paying the bill, the hubs chatted at length with the friendly Italian restaurant manager. It turns out that he used to be based in Singapore, working in an Italian restaurant at Marina Bay Sands. He told us that he has such a love for Singapore! When he first saw Marina Bay Sands, he spent 20 minutes gawking in amazement at the structure! In the same breadth, he mentioned that there were only 2 places in the world that were equal to Singapore: the Grand Canyon and the Rome Coliseum.
We did not know what to think though, when he told us that he was from Tuscany, a popular destination for Singaporeans! Our only conclusion is that the grass is always greener on the other side.
What a surprise to find excellent Italian food at affordable prices in a Thai town near the South Andaman Sea. We highly recommend a meal at Umberto’s Cuisine!
Our last dinner was at Cuckoo’s Nest. While this place was ranked lower than May & Zin, we decided to give this place a try, as we had not eaten a good Thai meal at Ao Nang.
The walk To Cuckoo’s Nest from Holiday Inn Krabi was about 7 minutes. It was a pleasant walk on a food-path, parallel to shops and the beach. (The walk would be more pleasant, if you do not have kids who kept on asking, every 10 steps, “are we there yet?” and who complain about the warm night when you start dining.)
We ordered the Thai fried rice, a plate of satay, fried chicken wings, and chicken noodle soup. All of the dishes turned out very well. The satay was tasty and tender. The chicken noodle soup was soothing and soul-comforting. The chicken wings were decent too. The service was prompt, and the waitress was very friendly too.
After we paid the bill, the owner of Cuckoo’s Nest came and spoke to us.
Her name was Oi. She was a very friendly lady and spoke very good English. Formerly working in Bangkok, Oi had a dream to open a restaurant near a beach. She eventually decided to open a restaurant in Krabi 18 years ago. At that time, her restaurant was the only one near the beach, and the developments in Krabi were minimal. Her restaurant was then surrounded by forest!
I was not surprised to learn subsequently that Cuckoo’s Nest is a family business, and her sister, Noi, is the chef. Her niece was the waitress who served us earlier. There was something different about this place: we felt a sense of personal warmth and dedication to serve good and reasonably priced Thai food in a cosy setting.
We highly recommend this unassuming eatery to all who visit Krabi.