Siow Jong Sin Restaurant - ร้านอาหาร เซี่ยวจงซิ่น

It's not hard to find a new restaurant to explore but it's harder to find one that is a bit special. 


One day driving home along the Wirathongyok Road (ถ. วิรัชหงษ์หยก), the road that runs from Naka Temple and the Weekend Night Market into town, I spotted a row of gas lantern lit tables, all full of people eating and drinking. It looked just my kind of place so I made a point to pay a visit but then I forgot about it for a while until I saw someone make a comment on Facebook, and when a local Thai person gives a good review then you know the restaurant is worth a visit! However it was a few attempts before I got there as I didn't realize that the restaurant is closed on Sundays and Mondays and opens around 17.30pm, so after a few trips I finally got to eat there in the end!


There is no name sign as far as is visible from the road so you just need to look for the tables just along from the fruit market on the left before you get to the intersection and Mr Com computer shop. You can find the location map here on Foursquare. The name is in Chinese and reads as Siow Jong Sin (เซี่ยวจงซิ่น in Thai). The restaurant is run by a school teacher and has a sign saying 'Head Master' near the counter entrance, so if you want to do your homework there then you won't have a problem!

Inside is decorated like a mini museum, similar to the Natural Restaurant in Soi Puthon, and it is possible to sit inside or outside.


The menu had several choices and I chose Moo Kahm Wahn one of my favourites and I was pleased that I did! I forget the price now but I think around 80Baht and the noodles were even less!


Great atmosphere, good food. Hope to get back there soon.
Infact I might just go there right now!

I-46 Old Town Coffee


Located at no.46 Tanon Krabi just across from Soi Downtown as you head for the Blue Elephant Restaurant, i-46 is run by Khun Nong in his family home, a traditional Chinese Shop House that dates back to Phuket's Tin Mining days and is like a piece of the past in present day.


I have been to this house a long time ago (late 1990s) for a Chinese lesson with Khun Nong's brother and so for me this place is part of the history of my life in Phuket. This wonderful family make their guests very welcome and make you feel your part of the family. 

Khun Nong, the owner, with his family photos

You will see an old photo of Khun Nong's grandfather hanging on the wall alongside other family photos including early shots of Khun Nong too. Originally an immigrant Chinese family, Khun Nong's grandfather was given a Thai name of Anupart which he later changed to Hongyok. You will still see these names in many businesses in Phuket as the family has expanded over the years.


i-46 Old Town Coffee is like a museum in itself, and Khun Nong is happy to talk about his house and family. The building is a typical Sino-Potuguese shop-house with 'Chim Jae' or central open roofed area used for ventilation and lighting which makes a great place to relax reading, chatting or just enjoying a coffee. 



i-46 has all the makings of the traditional Phuket coffee shop society, people drop by to take a coffee or breakfastor to chat with Khun Nong (who speaks English, Japanese and Chinese). Family and friends sit chatting with regular visitors, friends and neighbours, and like I said previously you suddenly feel part of the family! 


Sitting at the front of the house drinking coffee on my second visit I discovered what has to be the best banana cupcakes in town! Freshly baked by Khun Nong's wife (who is in charge of the cooking) they had the full flavour of real bananas, soft and moist and simply so delicious it was hard not to order another one!


i-46 is open from 8am until 4pm everyday except Wednesday, you can find them on facebook too.
As well as coffee they have juices, local cakes, international food and a selection of postcards and souvenirs.

Tanon Krabi, Phuket Old Town - ถนนกระบี่

The best way to experience Phuket Town is on foot, walking around really gives you the feel of the place and today was one of those special days for me.

Having taken my car to have the oil changed I had several hours to kill and as always on days like this I headed for Phuket Old Town. The sounds and smells of places tend to stay fixed in my memory, when I think of India it's the sound of traffic, blaring horns and tinkling bells mixed with smells of spices and the colourful scenes along the roadsides. These experiences make the place real and strolling into the heart of Phuket Town I couldn't help smile as I walked past an old traditional noodle shop, blackened by the years, almost ignorable except for the loud rap music blasting out from somewhere inside! A couple of steps on, the aroma of Chinese Herbal Medicine drifted from inside an old shop-house, reminding me that this is the real Phuket, life going on oblivious to tourists and the hustle and bustle of modern department stores. It felt just like it did the first day I set my foot here on Phuket soil back in 1987. A timelessness trapped in the lives of local families that hasn't changed much over the last 100 years. (Well except for the rap music maybe!)


Outside the Thai Hua School entrance. Photo source unknown.

A few streets on I turned down Soi Downtown opposite Phuket Fresh Food Market into Tanon Krabi. Tanon Krabi tends to be overshadowed by the names of Soi Romannee and Tanon Thalang but it is a wonderful place to capture a glimpse of Phuket's past with the Thai Hua Museum and Chinpracha House heading the list.

      

There are a many hidden treasures in Tanon Krabi that can be easily missed. You need to walk slowly and look up, down and sideways!

      

This particular door, old and easily missed is a real treasure. Notice the headers and footers of the door posts, no hinged needed here. Further along the road the owner of the Ming Shou Boutique House had his door made specially to follow this old design and is clearly proud of it!


Ming Shou's owner Khun Chart built this guest house retaining the Sino-Portuguese style so well that from the outside you would think it was the original building. Inside he has carefully designed a natural airflow system using open brick and wooden window panels that keeps the Guest House feeling cool and airy in the same way that the traditional 'Chim Jae' were used to cool the old Chinese shop-houses.


Ming Shou offers double rooms, twin rooms and a triple room starting at a price of 750THB (in 2013) and can be contacted at mingshouphuket@gmail.com or be phone 076 681109.

Soi Downtown is well know by the locals for it's night market, but even in the daytime pick-up trucks will be stopping in Tanon Krabi to offload their goods and this otherwise sleepy street is filled with activity throughout the day.


Turning left out of Soi Downtown and you will be sure to see i-46 Old Town Coffee - just look for the red bicycle! This place is a real treasure, inexpensive, run by a wonderfully friendly family and makes a great place to relax and chat with the family and other visitors. This place deserves a blog post of it's own and as soon as that's done I'll put the link here too!


Just along from i-46 is the old Sirirote Hospital building. I remember when I first came to Phuket that this was one of 'the' hospitals to go to. It was small then and has now relocated and re-branded as the Phuket International Hospital located close to Big C and Central. Looking at it now it seems so incredibly small!


Continuing along Tanon Krabi past the Blue Elephant Restaurant and Chinpracha House you will eventually come to Mae Ya Nang Chinese Temple which takes it's name from the Sea Goddess the protector of sailors and is worth a visit, the temple is just over 100 years old as are most of Phuket's Chinese Temples.

Tiansin the Mitsubishi dealer called me to tell me that my pick-up truck was ready to be collected therefore the walk ends here today, so until next time..........