Terminal 21 is a massive, airport themed mall in Pattaya boasting 6 floors with hundreds of shopping and dining options. You can find anything you need and eat whatever you’re craving while you beat the brutal Thailand heat and avoid the more unsavory pastimes Pattaya has to offer.
Jeremy and I headed to the food court, Pier 21, to see what lunch we could get with a mere 200 THB ($6.58 usd), and we ended up feasting like kings.
Unlike other mall food courts across the world, some malls in South East Asia have a cash card system where you load up funds onto a plastic card, then proceed to use it at the desired stall. It prevents the potential slow up credit cards and cash transactions can cause, and the food court shrewdly collects a small card fee. Smart idea!
After making a couple laps, this is what we got:
We found the Pad Thai stall in the right back corner, and were pleasantly surprised with the ample serving size as well as the fact it was made fresh to order as oppose to being dished from a hotline. While there wasn’t anything overly exciting about the flavors, it was exactly what you want from a cheap Pad Thai.
Spicy Chicken Coconut Soup:
This dish was a home run. Creamy, slightly sweet coconut broth held tender chicken, bamboo shoot, and a few unknown root vegetables with a hearty heap of chilis to give it a kick. The spiciness was tamed by the smooth coconut, and my mouth never reached that uncomfortable “I’M ON FIRE” feeling that ruins my palate for the rest of the meal. Thai soups and curries often get me uncomfortably sweaty when sitting on a plastic chair in the streets, and I appreciated enjoying the hot soup in the cool AC.
Papaya Salad is a classic South East Asian dish that features shredded raw papaya tossed in a sauce containing sugar, lime, garlic, chilis and fish sauce. This particular serving was fresh and crunchy with a solid heat from the chilis and sweet tang from the lime.
Mango Sticky Rice:
We can never pass up mango sticky rice, and this particular serving was the cheapest I’ve ever seen, ringing in at $1.21 usd. While the serving size of rice was on the small side, the mango was beautifully ripe and the dessert was delicious.
As soon as we walked in, we eyed a smoothie stall lined with fresh fruit. I ordered a passionfruit smoothie and watched the man empty the respective cup of fruit into a blender along with some water and syrup. A smoothie that fresh would easily set you back at least $5usd in New York City, but this refreshing cup of goodness was a mere $.82 usd.
Coconut ice cream:
With 16 TBH left ($.16 USD), we thought our dining experience was over. Then, we saw some coconut ice cream that just so happened to fit the budget. It was creamy, sweet, and a great way to end our food court experience.
This meal would have easily cost $50 usd (1,519 THB) in the USA, and I was quite frankly amazed to find such cheap food at a mall food court. What was even more shocking was the fact everything was fresh. Each stall was chopping up the ingredients and cooking most dishes made to order. Nothing was pre-made or frozen, and the difference was obvious in the fresh taste.
My one qualm was the poor service. Street food carts are usually manned by smiling men and women who have pride in what they are serving, but these workers were not to jazzed to be working in the Terminal 21 Food Court. I had to speak up to get someones attention before they slowly prepared each dish with a look of pain and dissatisfaction. Let’s just say they would never make the cut in a New York deli or coffee shop….
Over all, Terminal 21 is worth checking out if you find yourself in Pattaya, and Pier 21 is an ideal place to get cheap food while using free wifi in the comfortable AC.