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Dining in Phuket – The Michelin Guide’s Hits and Misses

phuket michelin guide

We have a star! Earlier this year, the Michelin Guide announced that Phuket would be included in its newest edition.

It was Michelin’s first foray beyond Bangkok in Thailand, and the new guide also includes restaurants in Phang Nga. In a glittering ceremony in Bangkok last week, they finally revealed who made the cut. The guide is released as a book and the listings appear in more limited form online.

Michelin is an influential guide for foodies and culinary travellers and any restaurant that earns a star rating is pretty much guaranteed to get a flood of new bookings. It certainly also raises the visibility of any place included in the guide – a nice bit of free marketing for those who spend their days toiling in the kitchen.

The Michelin Guide’s presence in Thailand is not without its controversies. Thai tourism promoters lured the Michelin Guide makers into the country with a contract worth millions of dollars. Is it still possible to create truly independent reviews with this lucrative arrangement? And why would Phang Nga be chosen as a location rather than, say, somewhere in Isaan where some of Thailand’s most famous dishes originated? I’d be more interested in reading about the best som tam shop in Ubon Ratchathani over some random restaurant in Khao Lak, for example.

This year’s guide has also been criticised for being sloppily written and pandering to “sycophantic chef groupies” who are more interested in taking selfies with celebrity chefs than the food. Lara Dunston at the Grantourismo Travel blog doesn’t hold back in her biting appraisal of the guide: 

“Many of the restaurant descriptions in the Michelin Guide Thailand 2019 are dreadfully written, with poor use of English, are peppered with clichés, and are too repetitive. There are way too many ‘charmings’, even for me, and I’m fond of the word. The descriptions often say very little about the actual food and they generally demonstrate little understanding of the cuisine of the restaurants reviewed.”

The Phuket listing has one glaring error that looks like a slapdash copy-and-paste job.

One place listed, La Gaetana, has a write-up that describes it as being “located hillside above Kalim Beach” in a large modern building with a “sociable Swiss owner”. I’ll bet the lovely Thai-Italian (not Swiss) couple who run La Gaetana would be surprised to read this. And the restaurant’s in a cosy little shophouse in Phuket Town … many miles away from Kalim!

Anyway, though the folks at Michelin are guiding people in the wrong direction to get there, I concur with them about including La Gaetana. It’s one of my long-time favourite places to go for some great Italian food and friendly service. I urge you to go try it out, but for god’s sake don’t look for it in the hillsides of Kalim. Sort this one out, Michelin!

Update: Yay, they’ve sorted it out. Here’s the guide’s much more accurate description: La Gaetana

aroon roti shop phuket
Aroon’s Roti Shop on Thalang Road in Phuket Town. It didn’t make it into the Phuket Michelin Guide — but it should have! 

A total of 38 Phuket restaurants are listed in the guide in three categories, with the farm-to-table restaurant PRU at Trisara luxury resort the only one to earn a star. I don’t know anything about Michelin’s selection process but they did come up with an interesting mix of places that show the diversity of dining choices in Phuket. They’ve included Hokkien noodle, roti and o-tao shops – oh yes! 

Some restaurants/shops I’m surprised to see on there, but, well, reviews are always a subjective thing so there’s bound to be fierce disagreement over who belongs in the guide and who doesn’t. I’ve only been to maybe half of the dining spots listed so I’m looking forward to trying some of these out.

Readers, do you have any favourite Phuket dining spots that you think should have been included? Please comment below or email me at and let me know.

One of PRU’s photogenic (and presumably very tasty) dishes: “Crispy potato with young beans, salted mackerel and passion fruit from the farm”. 
Photo: PRU/Facebook

Here’s the list of Phuket Michelin Guide restaurants:

Find the full descriptions and details here: Phuket Michelin Guide restaurants

Michelin “1 Star” Restaurant – “High quality cooking, worth a stop”


“The Plate” Restaurants – “Fresh ingredients, carefully prepared: a good meal”

Black Ginger at The Slate Resort
Blue Elephant
Go La
Jongjit Kitchen
Khao Thom Thanon Di Buk
La Gaetana
La Sala
Loba Bang Niao
Mee Ton Poe
Mor Mu Dong
O Cha Rot
O Tao Bang Niao
Pak Nam Seafood
Red Sauce
Ruen Thai
Seafood at Trisara
Suay (Cherngtalay)
Ta Khai
Talung Thai
Tu Kab Khao

“Bib Gourmand” Restaurants – “Inspectors’ favourites for good value”

Bang Pae Seafood
Chuan Chim
Go Benz
Hong Khao Tom Pla
One Chun
Roti Taew Nam
Surf & Turf by Soul Kitchen
Ta Tuay
The Charm

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