Chonburi may one of the the easiest provinces to explore from nearby Bangkok. The motorway between the provinces means you can be there in an hour, a feature that’s not lost on expats and tourists eager to forego Bangkok for Pattaya. The popularity of the route between the two cities, along with having the crowd distracted by bright lights in Pattaya, may be the blueprint for a memorable time exploring the sights and delicious tastes going unnoticed in Chonburi.
Here are some incredibly tasty snacks to be on the lookout for when you’re hopping from seafood in Sriracha, to hand chiseled mortars outside the old market in Angsila, to the beaches in Bang Saen, and wherever the roads leads as you explore this accessible province!
1) Jaeng Lon – Grilled Thai Fish Cake Skewers แจงลอน
The newest snack on this list called ‘jaeng lon’ is also the most surprisingly delicious. The snack local to fishing communities has a familiar taste because it’s essentially the meatball form of Thai fish cakes (aka tod mun), but eaten in an clever new way. Instead of the familiar deep fried disks, the mixture made of pounded fish, curry, and fragrant herbs like kaffir lime leaf is rolled into balls and squeezed onto bamboo skewers for grilling.
2) Kanom Jak – Grilled Thai Coconut Taffy ขนมจาก
A road trip favorite, kanom jak, is a taffy like treat made from sticky rice flour, coconut, and palm sugar. The mixture is wrapped in palm leaves and grilled, giving this stretchy treat a charred surface, while the rest remains gooey and warm. Since they aren’t as tasty reheated (unless you fire of the grill) they have become synonymous as a go-to snack to grab fresh when you’re on the road in Thailand.
3) Khao Lam – Bamboo Stuffed Sticky Rice Pudding ข้าวหลาม
Together with ‘kanom jak’ the snack above these are two of the most recognized road trip snacks in Thailand. You may even catch Thai speakers referring to ‘khao lam Nong Mon’ the second half of the phrase being a reference to Chonburi’s Nong Mon market (ตลาดหนองมน). If you’ve ever had this Thai snack you may know it’s not the most convenient to eat in the car, so lately the markets have been trending toward more cup sized versions making them easier to eat on the go. You will also find many vendors experimenting with adding ingredients besides the typical black beans, such as the bright yellow gingko nuts (‘bae goey’ or แปะก๊วย).
4) Hoy Jor – Crispy Crab Sausage หอยจ๊อ
You can catch this Chinese crab sausage in markets all over Thailand, but some of the most well known stalls to get your fix are in Chonburi. The sausage is made by wrapping the crab in the tofu wrappers and deep frying. Sometimes the vendors will add minced pork in addition to the crab, so you may need to ask to find out what all is inside. Near the main entrance to Nong Mon market you’ll find a large stall called Jarin (จรินทร์) selling the fried snack in boxes along with the next snack, poojaa.
5) Poojaah – Stuffed and Deep Fried Crab Shell Cakes ปูจ๋า
With all the fresh crab meat available in the local fisheries, don’t be surprised if someone in your party wants to make a detour for ‘pooja’ (pronounced boo-jaaah), a Thai dish where the crab meat is mixed egg, herbs and spices, and often pork before being stuffed backed into a medium sized crab shell steamed and then deep fried. While the deep frying may seem excessive to anyone reading this who’s not also American, the technique acts to seal the outside of the treat, while adding both color and texture to the finished product.
6) Hor Mok – Steamed Seafood and Curry Mousse ห่อหมก
Throw your fish and shellfish bits into curry, season, and steam in a banana leaf wrapper to get ‘hor mok’. This seafood mousse has an unusually unappetizing appearance. However you’ll find the chefs will dress it up with a dollop of coconut cream, and topping the seafood mousse with different garnishes like kaffir lime leaf to add color. Don’t let the appearance scare you off, this is treat worth trying! Although hor mok is considerably more filling than the other items on this list. When you order be sure to have it among the sharing plates at one of the restaurants below.
Bonus: Chonburi Restaurants to Visit!
Here’s a few types of restaurants to visit on your roadtrip through these coastal provinces. Including a few specific places to mark on the google map where you can stop and feast to your heart’s delight on fresh seafood, and seafood dishes that are especially well known in this area of Thailand.
Try Khao Thom in Chonburi
Thailand’s provinces are known for shutting down quick, with little to eat after 9pm. Not so for Chonburi cities and even in places like Angsila you have a choice between several late night khao thom restaurants. We decided to stop at a place called Khao Thom Bangpragong 2 (ข้าวต้มบางประกง 2), which has the tradition display case out front showcasing the variety of ingredients to choose your dinner.
This display includes several hanging ducks and if you look beyond them you can get an eyeful of action as the small army of people are wok it up in the background. This restaurant served stellar duck breast and their renditions of other specialties like ‘kha gai super’ or super chicken foot soup aren’t shabby either. I hope this helps to whet your appetite for a special evening meal and you look for this place or the other 4-5 choices all within about 5 minutes of each other.
Try Fresh Seafood from Local Markets
Whether you’re ready to bonfire at the beach, or just wanna grab fresh fish to bring back home to Bangkok, Chonburi is the place! Be sure to have the cooler ready and the gps locked on local fisheries like the Old Angsila Market (ตลาดเก่าอ่างศิลา). There’s a good variety of freshly caught seafood available in the market, and there are even some stalls willing to steam and grill it for you right there.
If you can’t be bothered to visit the market, rest assured the local seafood restaurants near the beach have already hauled over a selection of the day’s catch. You can enjoy it beachside, but of course they serve it to you at a premium. Our family prefers to hit the market, pack a cooler, and do our own grilling, steaming, and frying of this delicious fish. Vendors in the market where you buy it will help to clean and packages the fish, they may even offer their tips on how to prepare it, or sale it with ready made dipping sauces.
Try to Judge the Best Local Noodle Shop
Without a recommendation from a local, I don’t know how you’d ever conclude which noodle shop is best for lunch. Noodles are plentiful and the strong Chinese heritage in these areas means you’re especially likely to stumble over some stunning egg noodles or hard to perfect pink bowls of ‘yentafo’.
Our search brought us to the edge of Nong Mon Market to a shop layering soft minced pork patties into each of the bowls called Yentafo Jay Bouy (ร้านเย็นตาโฟเจ้บ๊วย ต้นโพธิ์). This was just one of many such shops nearby the temple/market area.
Refuel at a Funky Local Coffee Shop
I thought I would mention the emergence of some cool coffee shops in the provinces from the younger generation of Thais. To be clear, no, I don’t mean the tacky little faux-rainforest shops attached to many of the popular Thai gas stations along the road. I mean the coffee shops that make you want to stay a while with the environment and have strong enough coffee to keep you extra alert on Thailand’s roads. One of the shops we tried was called greenhouse inspired We Coffee, located about 15 minutes from Angsila.
There’s still plenty more to see and taste in Chonburi and don’t forget to check out the youtube playlist from visiting these restaurants. Including such food attractions like the birthplace of ‘gai ob ong‘ (Thai clay pot roasted chicken) or exploring the food fusing happening as Japanese expats in large numbers are carving out their own space in the city of Sriracha. I’ll keep exploring, but if there’s a favorite Thai snack that’s had you swerving on the highway, be sure to mention in the comments below!