Banzaan Fresh Market is located on Sai Koi Road in Phuket. The market is two floors and offers fresh produce, live seafood, and meats on the 1st along with restaurant hawkers on the 2nd eager to create a unique dining experience.
Step into Banzaan, you’ll be greeted with rows and rows of fresh foods divided into various sections. Produce in the front, ready-made food to the left, live seafood in the middle and meats in the back.
Although you can find anything your heart desires, we were on a mission, for one thing, fresh seafood. The market sells live lobsters, crabs, prawns, fish, clams, mussels, oysters and so much more straight from tanks. The variety of seafood offered is amazing. We walked up and down the aisles trying to decide what we wanted at least ten times.
How to Purchase
Once you are ready to pick out your seafood, signal to one of the men working the stalls and begin pointing away. The seafood is weighed by the pound so don’t get carried away. We ordered one giant spiny lobster, a handful of the largest river prawns I have ever seen in my life, they might as well have been lobsters, two crabs, and two alien-looking crustaceans known as mantis shrimp.
The gentlemen weighted each one and totaled it all on his calculator. He showed us the price and the negotiations began. He had 1750 Bhat ($54.19 USD) typed in his calculator. I looked at my husband and said that is way too much. My husband typed in 1600 Bhat ($49.55 USD) and he agreed. We probably could have gotten it for less but didn’t want to push our luck.
The market opens much earlier than the cooking stalls on the second floor. The second floor has signs stating it is open at 9 am but we found they really don’t open until 10 am. The best time to visit is around 10:30 am to 11:00 am.
You’re guaranteed the freshest seafood and best catches of the day early in the day. Although you may not be in the mood for seafood this early, the taste and freshness will blow your socks off. It’s worth getting up for.
Don’t get too overzealous with your bargaining, and remember that the vendors are trying to make a living. You’ll typically get a better deal if you buy more of a variety and shop early.
Fresh Cooked Seafood
After you pick out your seafood, it’s put into a large plastic bag and it’s time to head upstairs. It’s the weirdest feeling having your meal jumping around in your hand. I got a bit freaked out and had to hand the bag over to my husband. Remember to stay calm and enjoy the experience. Once you get upstairs the 2nd part of the adventure begins.
Don’t get caught up in the menu, every single stall has the exact same dishes. Once you get off the escalator the hawkers will start shouting to get your attention and earn your business. There is a wide variety of stalls to choose from but we recommend going to Papaya 2, Stall F2-03. We visited the market multiple times and Papaya 2 offers the most flavorful seasonings and best service.
After you pick your stall, the cook will hand you a menu. Even if you don’t know the language it’s really simple to order. The menu is broken into sections and categorized by type of seafood. For example, if you have lobster, there is a whole page dedicated to lobster with 5 or 6 different ways of preparing it. If you’re not sure what to choose, the cooks will gladly guide you through the ordering process.
I recommend getting the lobster prepared stir-fried in garlic and if you have prawns you must get them in the spicy sauce.
How Do You Pay
After you pick your dishes, the cook weighs your seafood to give you a price. It typically only cost $2 to $3 USD per dish. You’ll be given a ticket with the stall number and total. Take the ticket over to the payment booth near the escalator to pay. Then grab a seat near your stall and wait for your food to be prepared. It only takes 10, no more than 15 minutes.
The payment booth only takes cash so plan accordingly. If you are in a pinch or short on cash ATMs are located on the first floor, outside of the building to the rear. You can also run across the street to Jungceylon if you need currency exchange instead.
The lobster was topped with buttery garlic and was so sweet and succulent. It literally melted in my mouth. The crab was prepared steamed. It was good but I wasn’t blown away by it.
Neither of us has eaten mantis prawns before, so we were excited to try something new. This dish was prepared with crispy fried garlic, simple yet so good. The shell is tough and I recommend dismembering it by flipping it over and peeling like a regular shrimp. Just remember to put some muscle into it. The meat is firm yet sweet. It doesn’t taste like a regular prawn. It’s more like a hybrid between a lobster and large river prawn. Definitely, a must try!
The star of the show was the large river prawns. We choose to have it prepared in a spicy sauce. Yum, the dark soy with an abundance of chili peppers covered the prawns. The meat was firm, sweet, and juicy. Counterbalanced by the hot chili peppers, it was spicy & addicting. I even dipped mine in extra chili sauce because I couldn’t get enough.
Once you’ve had a taste you’re hooked
Banzaan Market is such a fun and exciting experience, I would definitely recommend this for anyone traveling to Phuket. Throughout our stay, we visited Banzaan twice for the seafood and multiple times for its fresh fruit. If you are in the area at night, Banzaan also sets up its own night market. You’ll get a chance to taste its unique foods in a completely different atmosphere. Take your time and explore, you may even find a few hidden gems.
Interested in seeing our experience first hand, be sure to check out the video below.
Planning a trip to Phuket? Make sure to read Thailand | Top 10 Things You Should Know Before Visiting Phuket.