The dish originated in Hainan Island in southern China, and the Chinese who moved to Phuket many years ago brought their favourite spicy fish soup recipe with them.
While once common, these days it is hard to find around Phuket, but one restaurant owner who happily continues to make the delicious dish is Niyom Wiyuwongsri.
Forty-five year-old Mr Niyom has been running the family “Khao-kheang khalee faan Hainan” (Hainan soup with rice) restaurant on Phuket Road for around 10 years, but the business has been going for more than 80 years. Mr Niyom is the third generation in his family to make the dish.
“This type of dish used to be very popular around this area in the past, and there used to be hawkers everywhere – all around Phuket Town.
“But now there is not much for sale, and the only people who sell it have had the recipes passed down from generation to generation – just like my restaurant.”
Traditionally the yellow-hued soup, made from curry powder, includes fish head. It is often served with steamed pork in a soya sauce soup, and pork balls.
The pork balls, also known as moo pat chor, are made from pork mince, mixed with garlic and parsley. All three dishes are usually served with steamed rice.
“Most of my customers are people who live in the area, though sometimes local politicians, lawyers and policemen come to eat lunch here.”
“Khao-kheang khalee faan Hainan” is open daily from 6am-10am, 4pm-9pm. The price of each dish starts at B50.