Where to eat in Koh Tao

Backpacking Koh Tao

Musings, tips and reviews of some of our favourite eateries on Koh Tao…

ZEST Café

Breakfast is not really something the Thais excel in and those simple things treasured by us “breakfastarians” such as cold milk on cereal and the browning of ones bread to signify it being toasted, seem to be lost in translation!

Ordinarily, breakfast for us would be a noodle or rice dish of some sort, not dissimilar to what we would eat for dinner.  Normally, we like to eat as the Thais do (minus the chunks of blood for myself) but on the odd occasion some home comforts and a bit of familiarity go a long way when you are on the road.  A previous attempt at such comfort eating had less than pleasing results with a breathtakingly incompetent performance from the staff culminating in an error on my part when the one redeeming element to my breakfast, the bacon, was accidentally dropped into the sand.  Brilliant!  In a ‘best of a bad situation’ moment we decided that, what was unfortunate for me would be a blessing for some birdfolk who would find my discarded meat scraps and save the lives of is bird family!  An acceptable compensation in the end J

The following day we decided to give this breakfast thing another go.  Surely some place must comprehend the absolute necessity for cold milk with cereal!  Well, our prayers were answered.  Down a quiet little side street just off the bustling beach road of Sairee lay our salvation.  Zest; a small open-fronted beach shack almost with poster adorned walls and simple bamboo décor- our eyes smiled in the knowledge that our appetites were about to be met.  A simple yet vast menu led to some deliberation but we eventually decided on some very satisfying choices; I opted for the French toast with bacon and a coconut shake whilst Jonathan took his chances with the toast topped with poached eggs option, a mango shake and a cheeky chocolate croissant on the side.  Some  quotes from Jonathan to express our delight with Zest’s offerings;

The mango shake was “pulpy perfection”

“Those poached eggs were brilliant.  I mean, if I was to make poached eggs right now they would be just like those and I make pretty good poached eggs!”

I think these testimonies speak for themselves really but just incase you missed my blatant subtext- Zest Café in Sairee Beach, Koh Tao received a big thumbs up from us.

Following our initial successful visit we decided to visit the following day and put together a little guide for our tried and tested Zest fayre.  Yummy!

French toast with bacon– 95 baht

Excellent effort at the French classic topped with a healthy portion of bacon.  The toast was cooked perfectly and the bacon complimented it well.  I added a splash of maple syrup to sweeten the mix.

Coconut shake- 55 baht

Having been waiting to try this treat for some time now, I was certainly not disappointed.  Creamy and packed with all of the goodness that a coconut offers, the drink was not as sweet as I was expecting but given the abundance of sugar used in Thai cuisine I think this was probably a blessing in disguise.

Mini breakfast set– 90 baht

This consisted of two pieces of toast, two eggs any style and either sausages or bacon.  We decided to get one of each and split the meats- an inspired decision it turns out.  It was a simple choice but a good one nonetheless and with the bonus of a bottle of HP sauce there wasn’t much that could go wrong really.

Toast with two eggs (any style)– 50 baht

As I mentioned earlier, the toast resembled real toast and the eggs (poached) were done to perfection.  A winner on the pocket and the palette

Mango shake– 55 baht

“Pulpy perfection”  remember!  Fresh and full- the mango shake comes highly recommended.

EL TORO Restaurant

With a name like El Toro you could be forgiven for presuming that this popular spot in the heart of Sairee Beach would be treating you to a Spanish affair of the tapas and sangria variety.  Well, you wouldn’t be entirely wrong as this place is one of those curious variety of restaurants assuming a dual identity and luckily for us their flip side speciality is pizza and, quite possibly, the best pizza on the whole island!  Now, I am partial to a bit of hyperbole so I could be making quite the statement giving the El Toro pizza such acclaim but it would definitely give any Italian Pizzeria a good run for its money.

Unassuming at first sight, the huge brick pizza oven to the right of the entrance quickly allayed any fears of its amateur potential.  No twinkling lights, hammocks or sea-front views, just a huge blackboard displaying beer prices, the film of the evening and the existence of free wifi.  Seemingly however, this is all that it takes as the pizzas speak for themselves.  Their secret in our humble, yet clearly food knowledgeable opinion ;)… cheese! And lots of it.

If eggs or pizza are not your thing try out some of these which we rated highly in our eating expeditions…

Sairee Cottage– Beach front restaurant which seemed to be a popular choice with the tourists.  We held off on this place for a little while opting for the quieter establishments but succumb to the persuasive powers of the 2 or 10 guys hovering around outside of the restaurant thrusting menus, the day’s catch and uncooked kebabs at passers-by.  The latter obviously did the trick for us and we opted for the kebabs which we devoured with delight and in almost silence.  At 120 baht each for two massive kebabs, salad and potato this place comes highly recommended.

In Touch Restaurant– like most of the beach front restaurants fish featured highly on the menu and the In Touch chef’s magic brought us back twice to tickle our taste buds.  The staff are amazingly attentive too which is almost a bonus!

Flowers Restaurant- A very successful breakfast of papaya salad and Laab devoured to the tranquil sound of birdsong and gentle piano melodies is pretty much the perfect start to anyone’s day.  We never at dinner here but we did return on our last night for cocktails and an impromptu pool tournament with a group of Canadians.  We came out on top obviously!

White Elephant- The first restaurant we visited and chosen because of its friendly and traditional look and prices! Both dishes (panang curry and coconut chicken curry) were delicious although the kitchen was not the speediest!  Despite this, the relaxed setting, faint western music and the bottle of SangSom (Thai Rum) which we sneaked into the place resulted in a more than pleasurable passing of the time.

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