Dec 31, 2013

Travelogue: Hatyai Thailand: The Must Do's & Must Eat's

I ate at some marvelous and not-so-awesome places during my recent trip to Hat Yai. Being my first time there, I wasn't on the lookout for extremely popular eateries, but rather a fusion of stumbled upon places and recommended ones as well.  

Despite previous visits to places like Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh, I'm still very much in awe of street food - it's categorically, a food culture all on its own. It's got that no frills, no reservations, known-to-locals appeal.

Since this is the first time I'm attempting such write up, I will let the pictures do the talking.

1. Fried Food at Lee Square in front of Lee Gardens Plaza
You wouldn't bypass the row of Thai hawker stalls, along one of the busiest stretch of Lee Square, at the epicenter of this tourist-crowded hitch.

My first bite in Hat Yai - oh was I eager to sample. Check out those sinful fried chicken stacked high! How can you resist! The fried chicken was deep fried to a brown perfection, it was crispy, tender and absolutely scrumptious. The mango sticky rice however was just like any other I've tasted. Don't bother with the rest.

Fried Chicken rm7   Sausage rm2
mango sticky rice rm5

2. Coconut drink at Lee Square in front of Lee Gardens Plaza
Grab a coconut drink to soothe the buds after a sinful dose of fried food. You know the popular and truthful saying - coconuts does wonders in soothing inner-heat. The place is located right next to the fried food stall.  

Coconut Drink rm3

3. Coconut Ice Cream at Lee Square in front of Lee Gardens Plaza
What an awesome way to quench my thirst, especially with the scorching heat and crowded streets. The ice cream was smooth and creamy with a tinge of coconut flavour. I would probably get another if I weren't quite stuffed already.

Coconut Ice Cream rm3

4. Shark Fin's Soup & Ginseng tea along Lee Square
They say your Hatyai journey will not be complete without giving their shark fin soup a go.

 Price per pot range from rm100-200
Complimentary and refillable Ginseng Tea

5. Tea break at Black Canyon Coffee in Lee Garden Plaza
This coffee joint is everywhere in Hatyai - not Starbucks, not Coffee Bean but Black Canyon. Dubbed one of the most popular cafe joints in Hatyai, I certainly enjoyed my cuppa and found it exceptionally mindful to have the coffee served on a tray, with a glass of mild tea and some biscuits to munch on. What a great idea! We should have that concept here too.

Black Canyon Coffee rm6

6. Birds Nest across the road from the massage parlors a block away from Lee Gardens
Road side hawker stalls selling premium goodies - or so it seemed. Having chilled birds nest after an hour long foot massage session - at midnight is one of life's pleasures.

The stalls closes slightly pass midnight.

Birds Nest Soup rm10

7. Noodles across the road from the massage parlors a block away from Lee Gardens
Also along the same row of hawker stalls, we found duck noodles! And I love duck! I admit, the bowl of duck noodles did tasted like it was heftily laden with MSG but it was an absolute delish - yummy stuff are always the unhealthy ones stands true. Tom Yum noodles with BBQ pork were a-okay as well. 

 All noodle dishes priced at rm5

8. Tidbits along Kim Yong dry market 
Kim Yong dry market is located on the quieter side of town. Its about 10-15 minutes walk from Lee Gardens Plaza. Rest assured though, you won't have to walk across busy main roads. Walk along the shop lots and you'd probably bypass a handful of really interesting traditional medicine shops.


7. Authentic Thai food at Khloeng Hae floating market 
I was excited to go to Khloeng Hae floating market - notably for the experience but clearly for the food also. I discovered one of the most amazing bowl of beef noodles while I was there - savory with a tinge of sweetness that made me salivate even when reminiscing about it. Despite it being a beef dish, I found a chicken drummet in the noodles - go figure. The rest of the small eats were pretty decent but nothing to rave upon. The added prawns in the porridge was definitely a welcoming treat also.

Khloeng Hae floating market is about 20 minutes away from the city via Tuk Tuk. 

Beef noodles & Porridge rm3
Bite site portions typically cost rm2 per serving

8. Insects at Khleong Hae Floating Market
I have had encounters with this some time back during my trip to Bangkok. Many have asked me how'd it taste like. Frankly, just like potato chips, it's salty - the tiny cricket ones that is, good source of protein too if I may just add.

9. Breakfast at Ho Wan (Lucky) Dim Sum & Bak Kut Teh
Apparently - obviously something new to me too - Dim Sum is a must-try in Hat Yai. And we had all geared up for a feast of dainty Chinese breakfast offerings at one of the most popular dim sum restaurants in Hat Yai! What a blissful way to kick start the day!

The one thing that tempt me the most upon stepping into this age-old restaurant, the colorful and abundance of dim sum offerings stacked high. It will definitely lure you into having your meal here - probably with not one, but multiple baskets placed in front of you. Span over two shop lots, the place was running at full capacity while I was there. Food wise, the dim sum came unexpected delicious and the all-popular bak kut teh was equally glorious to have for breakfast. Since my tummy space is finite, I was forced save space for the streak of food escapades ahead of the day.

Ho Wan Dim Sum and Bak Kut Teh is located at the older part of town, slightly more than 15 minutes away from the city via Tuk Tuk.

 The lot costs us rm40  Bak Kut Teh rm8/pot

10. Pork Pork Pork along Lamaisongkraw Road
We first stumbled upon this place on our way to Ho Wan Dim Sum, the place was crowded with breakfast goers. I knew I would come back - I did, right after dim sum. Popular for it's pig's trotter in vinegar, pork intestine and porkball and BBQ pork dishes - there was an abundance of pork going around.

11. Cotton Candy at Samila Beach
I have a weak spot for cotton candy. And of course I bought one to share!

The highlight of Samila Beach would probably be the beach, yes - but notably on the mermaid sculpture, as well as the mouse and the cat sculptures. There's a legend behind the mermaid from what I was told. Nevertheless, there were one too many tourist, vying for a picture with the mermaid at that point in time, hence, I decided to watch from afar.

The other thing-to-do in Samila Beach is probably going for a ride, up the Tang Kuan Hill. It's 30 bahts for the 3 minute elevator ride. You'd probably have to wait in line for awhile too - tourist calls. There - you'd be able to capture panoramic views of Songkhla City. Samila Beach is about 20 minutes drive from Hat Yai city center.

Cotton Candy rm3

12. Ignore the Squid stalls in front of McD Lee Square
You'd probably be fascinated by the amount of squid on display. I walked pass a couple of times and finally succumb to the urge of trying this - tasted exactly like the pre pack ones in supermarkets.

Rm10 per piece according to size

13. Seaweed and Chips shopping at Tesco Lotus 
When it comes to seaweed and chips, I will be the first to raise my hands - one of my favorite junk food of all time, dried seaweed or Tao Kae Nao in Malaysia. My eyes were gleaming with tears of joy when I saw this *literally*.

Lays rm3  Seaweed rm2-3  Others rm1-3

14. Don't bother with McD Pork burger
Honestly, don't bother - it was one of the most expensive burgers I've had in McD, priced at Rm15 each and it tasted bland and the patty was soft. McChicken and Fillet O Fish satisfy much better. Did a takeaway and had this in the car.

Our 3 day Hatyai stint ended in a blink of an eye. Fret not, the adventure continues in Malaysian shores, in Penang! Hover over to read about my next pit stop Here.


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