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5 Prime Phuket Restaurants

October 16, 2013

This Thai island is elevating resort cuisine, with kitchens producing culinary feats as diverse as the travelers that frequent its sandy shores. By Diana Hubbell

Published on Oct 16, 2013

1. Ruen Thai, Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket

The sprawling Laguna complex was one of the first places to put Phuket on the global tourist map, and it’s still going strong today. At the venerable Dusit Thani, the service is still friendly, and the signature restaurant, Ruen Thai, still offers a solid selection of local favorites. The dishes, while familiar, are executed with care. A yam som-o with juicy pomelo and shrimp proves the kitchen isn’t afraid of a few chilies, and chunks of fresh seafood float in creamy hor mok soufflés. For more special-occasion worthy fare, the chef will ignite a whole Phuket lobster tableside. Once the flames subside, guests can pry the tender meat from the shell and slather it with curry-spiked coconut sauce. Taken in combination with the restaurant’s lakeside setting, it’s easy to understand how this comfort cuisine has stood the test of time. 390 Moo 1, Srisoontorn Rd., Cherngtalay, Talang; +66 76 362 999;

2. The Grill, Regent Phuket Cape Panwa

The Grill at Regent Phuket is all about understated elegance, with soft lighting and subtle gold accents. Looks alone could sell this place, but what really sets it apart is the impeccably sourced food. Ask which farm your Wagyu steak came from, and there’s a ready answer. Just about everything that can be made from scratch is, from the smoked salmon and the bacon, to ice cream, yogurt, bread and, in the future, mozzarella. Even the butter is house-churned, herb-flecked, truffle-infused and dusted with two varieties of volcanic salt. All these fastidious details happen behind the scenes, and the resulting dishes feel surprisingly unfussy. More importantly, while chef Justin Baziuk is comfortable with occasional molecular-gastro flourishes, he isn’t afraid to let the ingredients shine through simple preparations. A blood-rare rack of New Zealand lamb, seasoned only with a bracing mustard rub and served with crisp, buttery baby potatoes is good enough to stop a conversation cold. 84 Moo 8, Sakdidej Rd., Tambon Vichit, Amphur Muang; +66 76 200 800;

3. Black Ginger, Indigo Pearl

Much has already been said about the Indigo Pearl’s brooding, steampunk aesthetic and quirky Bill Bensley design. It should come as no surprise then that the self-consciously stylish hotel’s signature restaurant, The Black Ginger, resides in the middle of an artificial lake, complete with torches, a fog machine and a raft to ferry guests across. Once inside the darkly intimate interior, the mood is more subdued, though no less theatrical. Waitresses decked out in slinky black silks offer up Thai staples augmented by superlative ingredients like fine de Claire oysters and imported U.S. rib eye. A mammoth prawn rises from the tom yum goong and the roll-your-own springrolls come with a rich crab-and-pork filling. For dessert, try the black sticky rice pudding with jackfruit. Nai Yang Beach and National Park; +66 76 327 3389;

4. DiVine, Thanyapura Phuket

While most resorts aim to provide a leisurely holiday, Thanyapura caters to a much more active crowd. Until the addition of a hotel in 2012, this sprawling complex in the midst of Phuket’s jungle was primarily for serious athletes. The emphasis on wellness goes from the fitness facilities all the way to DiVine, the property’s low-key eatery, which serves a variety of healthful foods like quinoa-crusted chicken. The global cuisine here is far tastier than your standard spa fare. An inventive salad of beet “ravioli” consists of ruby-red slices wrapped around tangy feta and sprinkled with pistachios. After a well-balanced meal, guests can indulge in a whey-protein-spiked vitamin-rich smoothie, or a more hedonistic cocktail. 120/1 Moo 7, Thepkasattri Rd., Thepkasattri; +66 76 336 000;

5. Mare, Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket

A coral-pink palace set directly on a white stretch of sand, the Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket is all beach breeze and charm. The easygoing ambiance extends to Mare, the resort’s airy Italian restaurant. Kids can watch the cooks in action in the open kitchen while parents sip something from the reasonably priced wine list. Hailing from Genoa, chef Matteo Verini whips up a menu of dependable crowd-pleasers using mostly imported ingredients. All the requisite items are here, from smoky carbonara to seafood pasta. You’ll find no surprises, but with little ones in tow, that can be a relief. Take a bite of the excellent tiramisu, sip an espresso and watch the kids play in the surf. 683 Patak Rd., Karon Beach, Muang; +66 76 201 234;


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