Tonsai Bay is a bustling and colourful place at most times of day. But when the sun sinks into the Andaman Sea and the lights go up along the coastline there is a tangible sense of magic in the air.
Tonsai Seafood is right in the heart of all this fairylike seaside sorcery and, like a fairy’s magic wand, the restaurant glistens and glitters with bright lights.
Décor & Atmosphere
This 600-cover restaurant features a trio of eateries: a covered restaurant, an al fresco dining part in the middle and a bar-restaurant on the other side featuring set menus. Each section is pretty much on the beach and one of the restaurant’s visual attractions is a line of freshly painted longtail fishing boats directly on the sand.
There’s a generously proportioned and busy open kitchen in the middle of things and a boat-like display case featuring every kind of seafood under ice. The atmosphere tends to liven up past 19:30 with diners arriving and settling in by 20:00. There is subdued background music but the real music to the ears is the gentle slip-slap-sploosh of waves landing on the beach just metres away.
Food & Wine
All the usual suspects are on offer here. Grilled, steamed or fried, you can choose how you would like your lobster, fish, shrimps, tiger prawns but there is also an extensive western food menu as well as snacks, pizzas and sandwiches. The kingfish steak is nothing short of mouth watering and the lobster thermidor the best I have ever tasted – it is truly a work of art.
But perhaps the best thing about this place is that the chefs are adaptable and can cook according to individual tastes. And the servings are generous. Try the tom yam seafood if you want to turn the spiceometer up full or if you’re ravenous order a filling shrimp fried rice. Tiger prawns are served either in tamarind sauce or with a garlic combination and they’re big and satisfying.
This restaurant is a leader on the island for the freshest and most satisfying seafood you can get and has a 19-label wine list from both Old and New World selections.
Considering the size of the place the service here is excellent and good natured. Dishes arrive on time and the wait staff is professionally polite yet naturally friendly in a very Thai way.
There is no sense of overbearing urgency and all in all the service is a direct reflection on some really great food.
Where Is It?
Right in front of Phi Phi Banyan Villa, Tonsai Seafood is smack-bang beachside on the track that leads from the pier to the many resorts and restaurants on Phi Phi’s east side.
- Opening Hours: 11:00 – 23:00
- Location: Right in front of Phi Phi Banyan Villa on the main street along the beach