Food Restaurant Travel

Ko Joi Restaurant – Kanom Jeen Noodles in Krabi

โกจ้อย ขนมจีนไก่ทอด กระบี่
Ko Joi Kanom Jeen Gai Tod Krabi

One of my favorite excursions in Krabi, Thailand, is to go eat a type of noodle called kanom jeen at Ko Joi restaurant in a Nuea Klong just south of Krabi town. It’s a little, somewhat out-of-the way restaurant where they make their own fresh kanom jeen noodles and some absolutely delicious gai tod (fried chicken). Their main sign, in Thai, says โกจ้อย ขนมจีนไก่ทอด กระบี่ – Ko Joi Kanom Jeen Gai Tod Krabi.

(Click pictures to see a larger version.)

Kanom Jeen Namya
Kanom Jeen Namya

Kanom jeen are perhaps the only noodles popular in Thailand that do not come to Thailand via the Chinese. This is ironic as the word for Chinese in Thai sounds very much like jeen – for years I thought that was what the jeen in kanom jeen meant: it’s not.  Kanom jeen is a 100% rice noodle consisting of rice, water and (optional) salt. It is made by first fermenting the dough, then expressing the dough through a cylinder with holes into hot water (for cooking). According to Kasma these noodles are indigenous to SE Asia and originated among the Mon ethnic group, who called them kanawn jin. They are found throughout SE Asia, in NE Thailand, Northern Thailand, Southern Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Burma. The noodles are documented in the Ayuthaya Era (15th to 18th centuries) and may have existed since the 8th to 11th centuries.

We’ve already blogged on a Southern restaurant that serves kanom jeen (Wang Derm (which his become Krua Nakhon), in Nakhon Si Thammarat). What makes Ko Joi special is that they make the noodles right there and you can watch the process in its entirety. (See slideshow at bottom of page.)

Kanom Jeen Namya
Kanom Jeen Namya
Kanom Jeen Namya
Kanom Jeen Namya

In many places, kanom jeen noodles are used as a rice substitute: you can order green curry or whatever that will be served over the noodles. Here, you have one choice: Kanom Jeen Namya, which Kasma translates as Southern-Style Rice Vermicelli Topped with Spicy Fish Namya Curry Sauce. And it is spicy! Kasma’s recipe, which she used to teach in Advanced Set E-2, calls for 10 large dried red chillies (soaked and chopped) and 40 to 50 dried red chillies (finely ground) pounded into the chilli paste. The dish even without the chillies would have an intense flavor from all the other herbs. The lovely yellow color comes from fresh turmeric.

The dish is served with an assortment of raw and blanched vegetables and various kind of pickles, which can be eaten separately or stirred in and eaten with the noodles, as you can see above right.

Vegetable Platter
Vegetables & Pickles
Accompanying greens

At nearly every southern restaurant, there’s a platter or two of fresh vegetables and herbs to accompany the meal. At Ko Joi you get two plates: the one above left has two kinds of pickles, cucumbers, long beans and bean sprouts. The one above right has various leaves and herbs, such as Thai Basil.

Marinating chicken
Marinating Chicken
Frying Chicken
Frying the chicken

The other plus for Ko Joi is that they make a fabulous fried chicken (gai tod) to eat with the noodles. Above left you see the chicken marinating in a sauce prior to frying. Above left you see the chicken sizzling away in the oil.

Be warned, though: you may need to stay in line for the chicken piece you want as sometimes there’s a number of people waiting to choose.

Fried Chicken
Fried Chicken
The Meal
A meal at Ko Joi

When you see the photo above left, you can imagine why there’s a line to order the chicken! The chicken is absolutely delicious: crispy fried on the outside and succulent and flavorful on the inside. I find it impossible to eat only one piece!

Above right you see pretty much a complete meal: the vegetable/pickle platter to the right, then the Kanom Jeen Namya with a piece of fried chicken just behind.

Inside Ko Joi
Inside Ko Joi

The inside of the restaurant is nothing fancy: basic tables and plastic stools to sit on. The chicken is simply served on pieces of paper. You don’t come here for the fancy setting!

The one other dish I’ve seen here is a Fish Innard Curry – Kaeng Tai Pla – which is incendiary. The dish has a pretty strong taste and is, in my opinion, an acquired taste. (I’ve not yet acquired it.)

This is a fabulous excursion; plan on going for breakfast and do make sure you watch the noodle making in the back room. For now, check out the slideshow below.

Directions are found below the slideshow.

Slideshow – Making Kanom Jeen

Click on “Play” below to begin a slideshow.

Clicking on a slide will take you to the next image.

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Getting There

Ko Joi Sign
Ko Joi sign
Sign Close-up
Sign close-up

Kasma and I got together in 1992 and since then I’ve been to Thailand every year but one, always with Kasma. Yes, indeed, I do know that I’m a lucky man. Traveling with a Thai woman who specializes in finding interesting places to visit and knows so much about Thai food and Thailand is good in one way; in another, I’m not sure how many of the places we visit I could find if I ever did have to travel on my own.

Ko Joi is found in Nuea Klong (North Canal) which is about 17 km south of Krabi town and about 3 km from the airport. It’s directly across from a Chinese shrine and is accessed from left-hand turn onto a small road from the Highway. Your best bet for getting there, is to find a songtao or hire a car and driver in Krabi town and get them to take you there: Kasma says it’s well known in Krabi and people there will know it.

This is a breakfast and lunch place. As far as I can tell, it opens at 6:00 a.m. and closes either at 1:00 or 2:00 p.m.

โกจ้อย ขนมจีนไก่ทอด กระบี่ (Ko Joi Kanom Jeen Gai Tod Krabi)
752/3 หมู่ 2 ต.เหนือคลอง อ.เหนืองคลอง
752 Moo 2, Tambon Nuea Khlong, Amphoe Neaung Khlong
Krabi, Thailand 81130
Phone 075-691145 , 081-8941932
Restaurants coordinates: 8.07165, 98.999717
Google Map of Ko Joi (offsite, opens in new window) – name spelled as Ko Choi.

Check out the pictures of Ko Joi at Google Images (offsite, opens in new window).

This Thai website has some reviews of the restaurant (offsite, opens in new window). They are in Thai so you’ll need a plug-in to translate the page.

I understand that there is a branch of Ko Joi in Krabi town. We’ve never eaten there, only at the Ko Joi in Nuea Khlong.

See also:

Written by Michael Babcock, September 2014


Snorkel Thailand Now, Before the Reefs are Gone!

Global warming has taken its toll on the world’s tropical reefs, Thailand included. 2010 saw one of the most serious coral bleaching events in recorded history affecting most of the reefs in the tropical regions of the world, from the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific to the Caribbean.

Note: We have an update as of February 2020 at the end of this blog.

I was in shock myself to discover some of my favorite reefs in Thailand’s waters seriously damaged in a matter of just a few months. In January of 2010, the group of avid snorkelers who traveled with me on a specially organized trip covering three marine national parks on Thailand’s Andaman seacoast had the greatest time and was amazed by the incredibly lively, colorful and abundant reefs protected within the marine parks: I have three Google+ albums of that trip with underwater photos (albums offsite, open in new windows):

Click on photos to see a larger image.

Healthy Reef
Healthy Koh Surin Reef, 2010
Damaged Reef
Damaged Koh Surin Reef, 2011

A few months later, after I had returned to California, I was worried when I read in the Bangkok Post online newspaper that marine scientists were very concerned about the rise in sea temperatures that was causing massive coral bleaching. Many were keeping their fingers crossed that the high sea temperatures wouldn’t be prolonged so that the coral could have a chance to recover.

What is Coral Bleaching?

Dead Coral
Fish over dead staghorn coral

The colors of corals come from a kind of microscopic algae that live inside them. The corals form a symbiotic relationship with the algae which nourish them with the essential nutrients they cannot produce without the algae’s ability to photosynthesize energy from sunlight.

This interrelationship is thrown out of balance when environmental stresses such as water temperatures much higher than normal, increased water acidity (another global warming phenomenon from increased CO2 being absorbed into the oceans) and pollution are elevated. Under extreme conditions, the algae begin to release substances that are toxic to the corals. In a desperate attempt to survive, the corals have little choice but to expel the algae. When the algae is expelled, the corals lose their color and become white. In other words, they become “bleached.”

Fish over Dead Coral
Parrotfish & dead coral

Bleached corals are still alive. If environmental conditions improve within a reasonable period of time, the algae can return to normal and become reabsorbed by the corals. However, if the environmental stresses are prolonged, the algae can die and when this happens, the corals, without their partner to provide them with the food they need, will eventually starve to death. Coral bleaching events, therefore, are closely monitored to ascertain the degree of recovery and destruction of the reefs.

The 2010 Coral Bleaching

Healthy Corals
Healthy corals

Massive coral bleaching was reported throughout the tropics in 2010, including the Caribbean, South Pacific, the entire Indian Ocean from east to west and the Coral Triangle — the world’s richest coral region spanning the area from the Philippines to Indonesia and the Malay peninsula. (The Coral Triangle covers just 1 percent of the earth’s surface, but is home to 30 percent of the world’s coral reefs, 76 percent of reef-building coral species and more than 35 percent of reef fish species.)

Scientists concur that the bleaching was caused by significantly higher than average sea temperatures from an El Nino cycle made worse by global warming which had already raised sea temperatures. Bleaching episodes occur when ocean temperatures rise above 85 to 87 degrees F. In 2010, ocean temperatures as high as 93 degrees were reported in the Indian Ocean and around the Coral Triangle.

Staghorn Coral
Healthy Staghorn Coral 2011

Scientists believe the devastating event in 2010 might be even more severe than the last massive bleaching during the 1998 El Nino, which destroyed more than 16 percent of the earth’s reefs, most of them in tropical regions. Some of the reefs damaged by the last event were just beginning to show some recovery when this recent bleaching put them back in jeopardy. It usually takes a decade or more for a damaged reef to make some measure of recovery if conditions return to normal and stay ideal for the corals. However, with no signs of global warming slowing down and short of any concerted international effort to drastically reduce CO2 emissions any time soon, tropical reefs are endangered and, according to some scientists, it’s likely they might become extinct within the next two decades.

Many Dive Sites Closed by January 2011

Partially Damaged Coral
Partially damaged coral

By January of this year, ministries in the Thai government (as well as in several other neighboring countries) announced the temporary closure of a long string of the country’s most precious dive sites in hopes of rehabilitating the reefs. It became apparent that the coral bleaching event during the hottest months of the year from April to June 2010 had led to the widespread demise of some of Thailand’s most beautiful and highly prized reefs. My heart sank as one of my greatest joys of coming home to Thailand every year is to immerse myself in the warm waters of the seacoast and in awe of nature’s beauty beneath the surface. I just had to see for myself how bad the situation really was.

My husband Michael and I took a trip down to the Andaman seacoast in late January and checked out the reefs in our favorite marine national park — Mu Koh Surin Marine National Park, followed by a few days on the islands off the Krabi coastline. That trip showed us in no uncertain terms the destructive face of the specter of global warming. Upon my return to the States in March, I wrote an email reporting what we saw to a few of the people who had expressed interest in joining my next southern Thailand trip (in Jan/Feb 2012) to relive their treasured experience of Thailand’s southern reefs.

An Excerpt of the Email to Prospective Southern Thailand Trip Members

Pre Bleaching Scene
Pre bleaching scene

. . . Thailand did not escape the 2010 global coral bleaching episode, but although a considerable amount of damage had been done to our favorite reefs, from Koh Surin to Krabi to Tarutao, we are planning to go ahead with our southern trip scheduled for next January/February. From our point of view, at our age, we most likely cannot expect to see a perfectly healthy reef again in our lifetime as the recovery process is slow and sea conditions cannot be expected to remain ideal for the reefs with global warming still uncontrolled. We fear that this recent global coral bleaching disaster may mark the beginning of the end of tropical coral reefs, as some scientists believe.

We, therefore, would want to take every opportunity to go snorkeling before the tropical reef system is further damaged in the next major El Nino cycle. In many badly damaged reefs in Thailand, conservationists are beginning to observe small signs of recovery since the bleaching occurred last April and May, and have pushed for measures to reduce other sources of environmental stress on the surviving corals to improve their chances of long-term survival and ability to reseed the reefs.

Soft Corals
Soft corals are ok, 2011}

Michael and I took a week’s trip recently to check out the reefs on Koh Surin National Park and around the Krabi area. We had wanted to check out our favorite spots at Phi Phi but a major storm system moved in that week and thwarted our plans. (It is presently the La Nina part of the cycle marked by stormy seas.) Instead we ended up on Koh Poda and snorkeled the nearby islands. The longtail boat driver we hired took us to a reef we hadn’t snorkeled for some fifteen years. We were heartened to see new coral growth after the overused reef was closed off more than a decade ago to tourists.

Trip A had a day trip to Phi Phi in December but on the day we went, we were able to snorkel only one site before the seas turned too rough to swim. But that hour snorkeling Koh Yoong was nothing short of magical as the tide was perfect and there were tons of fish. I was not yet fully aware of the extent of the coral bleaching at that time and was too distracted by the abundance of fish to pay much attention to the condition of the corals. In fact, I even snapped some photos of beautiful corals apparently unaffected by the bleaching event.

Fish & Coral
Fish and damaged coral

We were at Koh Surin National Park for three days. Although we were saddened to see large expanses of dead coral, we had a wonderful time nonetheless snorkeling the different sites. There were plenty of colorful fishes to keep us entertained and we honestly hadn’t seen as many enormous schools of different kinds of fishes since the tsunami year. As we do every year, we saw varieties of fish we’d never seen before. The damaged reefs continue to provide structure, form and color as a backdrop and as homes and breeding grounds to the reef fishes. The seaweed and algae that have begun to cover the dead corals are a source of abundant food for the herbivores, including the turtles. We saw lots of reef sharks which meant there’s still plenty of food for the larger predators as well. The occasional sighting of swaths of living coral and the brilliant colors of tiny new coral growth made me smile with excitement as I photo-documented what I saw. There are some varieties of coral more resistant to bleaching than others, so there’s still plenty of color on the reefs.

Although some of our favorite reefs are temporarily closed to allow them to recover more quickly (and we agree with the park’s decision), I was glad to get to see reefs we had overlooked before. In certain ways, they are every bit as interesting.

Despite the bleaching, we still find the snorkeling in Thailand to be much better than in Hawaii (we went snorkeling in Hawaii last spring). We have uploaded an album of underwater pictures taken this season onto our Google+ web gallery and invite you to view them at:

Some Signs of Recovery

Regenerating Coral
New baby staghorn growth

I am a little more hopeful after hearing a few people I know on Koh Surin National Park report recently that there are ample signs of new coral growth in several locations around the islands. At the same time, I hear that another El Nino is coming in a few years. With all the uncertainly surrounding the survival of the tropical reefs, all I can say is: I am going to put on my snorkeling mask and go snorkeling as often as I can before the reefs forever disappear. And unless we all do something to slow, if not stop, global warming, it will be sooner than later.

2020 Update

Giant Clam
Ko Tarutao Clam

Snorkeling this past February (2020), signs of coral decline are still visible. However, in many spots there are also signs of recovery, substantial recovery at some sites. Even in areas where the coral is severely damaged, you still come across sections that are still relatively pristine. There are also many, many fish still available for viewing. As of this time, it is still very worthwhile indeed to snorkel in Thailand.

Do check out Kasma’s albums from her 2020 and 2018 trips to Southern Thailand for an idea of what is still available. (Albums are offsite & open in new windows)

Written by Kasma Loha-unchit, December 2011 & Michael Babcock, May 2020.

Thai Culture Travel

Are We in Thailand?

Many of us travel to Thailand because we love Thai food. Some people travel for different reasons, particularly the beautiful beaches in Southern Thailand. On some streets, you wonder what country you are in.

Restaurant Signs
A stretch along Ao Nang Bay

One of the most beautiful regions of Thailand is the province of Krabi, particularly along the coast. It is filled with the beauty of lush greenery and limestone karsts. In the early years, Kasma would take her trips to stay at Ao Nang Bay. At the start there was only one place to stay on the entire bay; gradually, as people discovered the area, it became more and more built up until, now, it resembles some of the more crowded areas of Phuket.

(Click images to see larger version.)

This last year we visited Ao Nang again to catch a longtail boat out to do some snorkeling. I had to take a picture of the stretch of street pictured to the left. One right after another you see: 1) La Luna, an Italian restaurant with “Italian Management;” 2) Royal Tandoor Indian Food, serving “Indian food” & “Royal Thai Food,” and; 3) Beccofino – “Ristorante Italiano & Thai Cuisine.” If you click on the picture to the above left , you’ll see a larger version that reveals the signs more completely.

Food Sign
Thai food at Royal Tandoor

Actually, I learned something from the sign at Royal Tandoor Indian Food. They display a selection of their Royal Thai Food in the picture to the right. I had never known before that “Wiener Chicken” was a Thai dish. It’s in the lower left corner: click on the picture to see a larger version and also to see (to the right) “CHK-NUGGETS” (presumably “Chicken Nuggets”). Kasma has never prepared either of these dishes. I’d be a bit surprised if they appear very often on the menu at the Royal Palace. I have my doubts about the onion rings as well.

Of course, these restaurants reflect the economic law of supply and demand: if there weren’t enough people visiting the area who wanted to eat Italian food or Pizza and Indian food, they would not exist. Along Ao Nang most of the people you see are fahrang – Caucasian. I suspect that the vast majority are Europeans. Apparently, after awhile they long to eat the cuisine of their home rather than yet another Thai meal. A few doors down from these three restaurants is a Sushi Bar and Grill. For much of the street it’s hard to find a restaurant that serves only Thai food.

Sushi Hut Sign
Sushi restaurant in Ao Nang

And dishes such as Wiener Chicken and CHK-NUGGETS have sprung up to fulfill a need. Apparently someone orders them. I think part of it may be the Thai restaurant owners desire to please their customers: in fact, this friendly impulse can sometimes short-circuit a well-meaning fahrang’s attempt to get authentic Thai food. In many instances when a restaurant has served authentic, full-flavored Thai food, their fahrang customers were unable to eat it. So often, and probably more often in the tourist areas such as this one, they try to make food the way they think fahrangs want it. I think of it as dumbed-down Thai food.

Thai Restaurant Sign
Finally, a Thai restaurant!

This modified-for-fahrang-food is one reason that some people come back thinking street food is the best Thai food in Thailand: street vendors are less likely to dumb the food down. Kasma’s opinion, and I agree with her, is that the very best Thai food is generally found in restaurants, if you know where to go and how to order. One of our favorites is Ruen Mai, found on the road between Ao Nang Bay and the town of Krabi.

As we continued walking down the street, we finally came to a restaurant we might consider, one with the sign “E-san Seafood.” “E-san” is an alternate spelling of Isan (or Isaan, or Isahn), the region of Northeastern Thailand. Although NE Thailand is land-locked, it is bound by the Mekong river along much of its boundary, so “seafood” is still an integral part of the food there. Since Isan food is generally spicy and tasty, this place might be worth a try.

Of course, as we turned the corner what do we see but a pizza restaurant next to another Indian restaurant.

More Restaurants
Indian food? Pizza?

Written by Michael Babcock, April 2011

Travel Wednesday Photo

False Clown Anemonefish (Wednesday Photo)

Snorkeling in Krabi

False Clown Anemonefish
False clown anemonefish in Krabi

Snorkeling gives both of us so much pleasure in Thailand that I thought I’d add another underwater photo of Kasma’s. She took this one off of Koh Poda (Poda Island) in Krabi earlier this year.

Want to see more underwater pictures from Thailand?

The Wednesday Photo is a new picture each week highlighting something of interest in Thailand. Click on the picture to see a larger version.

Travel Wednesday Photo

Natural Springs (Wednesday Photo)

Krabi Hot Springs

Hot Spring Sign
Sign at a Krabi hot spring

A fun thing to do is Krabi province (in the South) is to visit a mineral hot springs outside of town. It’s got several pools that work their way down to a cool river, perfect for a cooling dive after soaking for awhile.

I’ve always gotten a kick out of this sign found on the walkway to the hot springs. There is something poetic, even Zen-like, about the phrase “Natural mineral water naturally spring up.”

The Wednesday Photo is a new picture each week highlighting something of interest in Thailand. Click on the picture to see a larger version.

Wednesday Photo

Krabi Batik (Wednesday Photo)

Painting a Batik

Painting a Batik
Painting a batik

In Krabi we always visit the Varich Krabi Batik Center and usually come away with another colorful island shirt or wrap. I like that you can watch the artists at work, painting on the fabric, such as this woman painting a dragon when we visited in February 2010. It’s located at 136/5 Maharaj Road.

The Wednesday Photo is a new picture each week highlighting something of interest in Thailand. Click on the picture to see a larger version.