Suay Restaurant, Phuket, Thailand
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The hottest place on a cool island
Phuket Island, situated on the south east
coast of Thailand, originally gained its fame as a backpacker destination with
affordable local food and drink.
Whilst some parts of the island continue to
develop along these lines, such as Patong Bay, many new resorts and hotels
have sprung up in other areas helping to bring a new generation of more
mature and, let it be said, discerning travellers to the island.
Phuket has long been a destination for
international holiday makers from Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai other
commercial centres, seeking a long weekend or a week's holiday in what is a
beach paradise. Now, with this rise in standards and expectations, which are
provided by the range of fabulous boutique and luxury hotels, so the
restaurants have developed in unison to cater for those seeking something
special outside their hotel.
At the forefront of this trend and with
international experience behind him, chef Tammasak Choothong, more famously
known as Chef Noi, returned from Germany where he had established his career,
to work in the top Thai and International hotel groups Banyan Tree and JW
Marriott Resort and Spa in Phuket as Executive Chef. Here he designed their
restaurant concepts and menus.
In 2010, having created quite a reputation,
he decided to go it alone and created Suay Restaurant in Phuket town and in
2017 opened his second location at Cherngtalay in the middle of the island.
Here he aimed to take the experience of dining to new heights by offering an
ambience of elegance in a relaxing setting, with stylish and contemporary decor
close to new luxury resorts and hotels in order to bring the Suay experience to
more locals and visitors alike.
Blending western cooking techniques with
traditional Thai ingredients and recipes, Suay, meaning beautiful, is Chef
Noi's own restaurant concept and his purest creative expression. It's a place
for a special occasion as much as a chance to experience a more diverse range
of Thai cuisine when visiting the island.
Visiting the new restaurant one is struck
by the decor. A thousand colourful butterfly motifs feature on the interior
wall and ceiling height doors run the length of the front of the restaurant. Similar
to the city location, the restaurant features both interior air-conditioned
dining for around 60 guests and an exterior courtyard for a further 40 or so.
Welcomed by Chef Noi's wife, we were seated
near the bar with a good view of the kitchen. This is where each dish is
finished ready to pass to the tables. Chef Noi himself appears here many times
during the service to arrange a plate or supervise his mainly Thai crew.
For starters, taking into account that one
of our party was vegetarian, we had the delicious signature 'Laab Tuna'
featuring fresh tuna tartar with miso line, crispy fried mushrooms and Issao
spices. We also tried the Acacia seeds and curried seafood tempura with grilled
prawns and avocado dip, and the way salad featuring a sorted leaves pomelo
fruit thai basil and krispy fried soft shell crab with sweet chilli dressing.
It's a menu where you would like to try everything.
With a cold beer or a glass of wine in
hand, this was an exciting start for what clearly was going to be a great
I'm the sort of person that gets excited
about trying new local dishes but I also appreciate well prepared dishes in
local restaurants at home in London and this is where Chef Noi excels. The
question I kept asking myself throughout the meal was whether this was Cordon
Bleu cookery skills applied to Thai dishes, or traditional Thai cuisine with an
international twist? Either way the combination is sensational.
For sure, there are descriptions of dishes
that would not appear that out of place in a Michelin star restaurant in
London, or for that matter in Stuttgart where Chef Noi worked previously, but
the ingredients are less familiar and certainly more exotic.
During the meal Chef Noi found time to come
out and say hello and to check that everything was alright, despite being in
the middle of a busy service and with the imminent arrival of a large group of
local hotel managers, ready for a Friday night out together.
We heard that he has helped design the menu
for several hotels on the island and across Thailand, including the famous
Banyan Tree, winner of numerous international awards. He also has a
cooking school, where up to 15 lucky people can learn to cook selected
signature dishes, and has appeared on the 'Thailand's Iron Chef' as the
'European chef', reflecting Thai interest in international cuisine in which is
he is so experienced.
So for the main courses. So much choice!
You can come to Suay Restaurant to try the Suay tacos which are served either
in crispy taco shells or soft roti bread or just to have a plate of his
signature pasta. But we were here for the full experience.
We shared the Shanghai style noodles with
pesto avocado and squid, the charcoal grilled black cod with coriander beurre
blanc and sweet potato and the delicious baked sea bass with local vegetables
in turmeric butter, all reflecting the fusion of international and Thai tastes.
Just being able to make room for desserts,
which included a mini baked alaska with green tea ice cream, we watched the
evening develop. The local hotel managers were clearly enjoying their meal and
the kitchen became more and more busy adding to the ambiance.
What strikes you about Chef Noi more than
anything, especially if you yourself know about running a restaurant business
or indeed any business, is that he is obviously a fabulous team manager and an
inspirational leader. He clearly loves cooking himself, but has also learned
how to lead with a smile and at the same time as welcoming customers. I'm not
sure what his plans for expansion are, but if this quality of cuisine and his
fusion menu was served up in London, it would be an instant hit with the
international population of the city.
Meanwhile, if you want a good dinner in
Phuket then a visit to Suay Restaurant is highly recommended to taste and
experience a truly great chef's creations; twenty local hotel managers can't be
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