The remarkable farm-to-table gourmet fare at Trisara resort’s PRU restaurant makes it a star in Phuket’s fine dining constellation
Even before the arrival in 2017 of the first Michelin Guide in Thailand, foodies have been ardently following the global rise in prominence of the fine dining scene in Bangkok. But what about the rest of the country? Well, the upcoming 2018 edition of the notorious “little red book” will now include laudable dining destinations in Phuket—and neighbouring Phang Nga province—and one of the prime contenders for this ultimate culinary accolade is PRU, the farm-to-table dining experience restaurant located within the gorgeous Trisara resort.
Having dined at PRU shortly after its opening, back in November of 2016, I was pleased to make a return visit recently and witness the progression. The intimate and elegantly designed, high-ceilinged, low-lit interior has not changed noticeably, but the menu itself has undergone considerable revision, which is not too surprising considering that Dutch-born Head Chef Jimmy Orphost makes it a point to use only fresh, seasonal ingredients and produce. He notes that the majority of the ingredients used are also certified organic, and he should know because they’re from the restaurant’s own 16,000 sq.m organic farm, Pru Jampa, located in northeastern Phuket (from whence the restaurant derives its name).
“Fifty per cent of our menu—what we produce on the farm—we know for sure it’s totally organic,” remarks Chef Jimmy. “For the other half we cannot say it’s 100 per cent certifiably organic, but we know where we buy it from and we know, and trust, the producers and suppliers. But the menu ingredients themselves are all from Thailand… except the olive oil.”
The four set dinner menus—all available with separate wine pairing—range from an introductory 4-course menu, all the way up to an exploratory 9-course feast. Choosing to straddle the middle-ground, I select the 6-course menu (B4,500++) accompanied by the wine pairing (B2,500++). In truth the meal consisted of 13 separate tasting experiences when you factor in the gloriously plated amuse bouche courses, the extra dessert (a hand-roasted marshmallow), and the freshly baked whole wheat sourdough bread—still warm enough to melt the lovely seaweed butter accompaniment.
The meal began in earnest with the first course arrival of a pickled and marinated wild sea bass reclining in a cold broth of cucumber and green mango, paired with a dollop of buttermilk sorbet topped with Hua Hin caviar. And while this combo sounds implausible, it works astoundingly well here. You’ll be doing a culinary double take as your mind says, “fish with ice cream?” while your awakened palate says, “this is heavenly”.
Next up, a pinkish tube constructed of thinly sliced radish, filled with succulent Phang Nga black crab and served with a vinaigrette of butter head lettuce. The oohs and ahhs continue when the burned leek arrives, sprinkled with house-cured Kurobuta ham, served alongside a small mound of feather-lite, meticulously sliced local mushrooms.
The meal continues with a dish comprised simply of carrots—a signature item (pictured opposite) that has remained on the menu since the restaurant’s inception. Cooked utilizing the actual soil they were grown in, tasty baked carrot chunks are served resting in a bed of salty and tangy carrot purée.
“The carrot is one of the first dishes I created for the restaurant,” Chef Jimmy explains, “and this is the dish that best represents what we are trying to do—using simple ingredients to create something new. And 95 per cent of the guests say they’ve never had a carrot like this before!” It’s also worth noting that vegetables get a star treatment in many of the chef’s dishes, and there is even a very tempting 6-course vegetarian set menu available.
The final main is the aged duck. Cooked over an open fire, the wonderfully tender, smoky strip of meat is paired with braised persimmon and sweet potato. Speaking of pairing, the wine for this course is a satisfying 2013 Odfjell Amador Carménère from Chile’s Maule Valley. It’s also an organic wine, as are two others out of the five excellent red and white wines sampled during the course of the evening. And in the coming months the revamped selection will feature natural, organic, and bio-dynamic wines exclusively.
Dinner ends on a sweet—but not too sweet—note with organic beetroot and sourdough ice cream, garnished with almonds from Isaan, and marinated mulberries. The very idea of flavouring ice cream with sourdough bread is eccentric enough, but pairing it with beetroot seems risky indeed. However, once again it’s a flavour match that just seems so right.
Giving an inventive chef like Orphost free reign to flex his gastronomic wings is a bold move on the part of Trisara, but it’s gambles like these that will transform Phuket into a truly world-class dining destination.
NOTE: Although Trisara is somewhat secluded, situated just north of Bang Tao Beach, the resort offers diners at PRU pick-up and drop-off service (within a defined area). Call for more information.
PRU @ Trsiara
60/1 Moo 6, Srisoonthorn Rd.
Open: Mon-Sat, 6pm-10:30pm
Tel: 07 631 0100
The 39 hillside villas at this exclave tropical hideaway are all beautifully designed, ocean-facing, and come with their own private pool. Relax at the beach, enjoy a dip in the salt-water beachfront swimming pool, or pay a visit to the soothing on-site Jara Spa where a 90-minute Thai Thermal Massage should leave you feeling royally rejuvenated. Meanwhile, dining options include PRU farm-to-table restaurant, The Deck (serving tasty Thai and international fare), and Seafood, which specializes in locally caught oceanic edibles and presents a splendid oceanfront Jazz Brunch every Sunday (starting from B2,600++).
By Bruce Scott