Chiang Rai Seafood Restaurant, Phuket
This place behind the northeast end of Soi Bangla was the one that we were unsuccessful at finding last time we were here. It turned out that the reason why I didn't recognize it last time was because a kick-boxing ring had gone up in the place of what used to be a big empty lot before the tsunami, and suddenly many of their neighbors had become much more commercialized too, heckling and touting passers-by with English menus. I was a bit worried that this place was also getting a bit touristy - it used to be a dark and grimey run-down lot.
Well, the selection here was still full of many of those standard-issue items like tom yum soup, but the food was fortunately still a bit unique in that the soup was very clear, very sour, and most importantly, was not red in color, but rather filled with dried chili peppers that produced some smoky roasted overtones that I really enjoyed. We also grabbed a deep fried snapper that was covered in fried garlic and paired well with a sour chili garlic sauce. Wash this and a few other dishes all down with some super strong lemonade, and my stomach was getting ready to burst open due to all the acid inside.
No, it's not my intent to keep eating at such places. And yes, I'm starting to get a bit tired of this continued tom yum soup routine, so I am hoping to hit a few rickety shacks along the road in Karon Beach tomorrow instead. But at least tonight's place wasn't one of the really commercialized spots where enormous seafood is placed on ice in front of passing tourists. I'll admit that some of them did look cool enough that I stopped to take a picture though.