Siow Jung Sin
Phuket 

A bowl of sandal wood is kept burning out front at all times. Stepping through the fragrant veil of smoke, you realise you’ve stumbled across something special. It’s one part dimly-lit antique shop, one part hustling restaurant, but it’s much more than the sum of its parts. With no sign and an unassuming façade, Siow Jung Sin need not rely on glitz and glam to lure in customers. This humble Phuket Town favourite has a loyal following whose stomachs and senses lead them back. Despite the random décor of antique mining lanterns, table tops displaying old cassette tapes and dangling birds’ nests creating a sense of timelessness, they first fired up their woks only six years ago.

A labour of love for Bank and Ingo Siyangsanaw, they are a constant presence with Bank working his magic over the fire and Ing liasing between guests and staff. The steaming dishes slide onto the table astonishingly fast while the ever-moving staff literally run to fetch customers’ requests.

Don’t expect phad thai or green curry on this menu – Siow Jung Sin churns out the fused flavours of Chinese and Thai cooking traditions. Case-in-point is the signature dish, super teen gai, with extra-tender stewed chicken’s feet in a thick, searing red sweet and spicy broth. The finest fried rice you’ve ever had comes out of their open-air kitchen along with rarely found flavours like fermented soy bean and chilli paste (phad tao hoo yee) and pan-fried young coconut shoots with fresh shrimp (goong phad yod maphrao). “Our food is not very good, but it comes from the heart. It’s heart food,” says Bank modestly. However, the full tables of content diners beg to differ.

What comes from the wok is only part of the equation. With a third generation recipe, Bank produces homemade spiced rice whiskey (ya dong). The smooth, sweet brew is aged with fresh herbs for two and a half months. It’s meant to drink before eating, but typically continues throughout the meal and into the night. Bank has colloquially named it “the swan that never meets the target,” the meaning of which is open to interpretation.

If you have an empty stomach and are on the prowl for a uniquely authentic Phuket experience, find your way to Siow Jung Sin.

Siow Jung Sin, Wirat Hong Yok Rd, tambon Talat Nuea, Amphur Muang, Phuket 

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