While the Thai capital of Bangkok is a globally recognised dining destination that’s on the verge of getting its own Michelin star guide, Phuket is no slouch when it comes to delicious and daring food either. The island’s rich culinary heritage can be traced back to the diverse tastes that flourished from the waves of migrant arrivals from across Asia in days past to its current status as one of the top resort islands in Asia.
Some truly talented chefs from Thailand and around the world have added their own creative flavours, colour and panache to the Phuket dining scene. Be sure to try some of these standout dishes at Phuket’s best restaurants if you haven't already!
The idea behind every dish and drink at Bampot is to take local ingredients and apply the best technique for each ingredient, whether Thai or Western style, and pair complementing flavours and textures to end up with a balanced finished dish.
It’s all about great food and drinks in a relaxed atmosphere
Chef Jamie Wakeford
Bampot is Scottish Chef Jamie’s first solo venture following a career in top kitchens in the UK and Asia.
- Prawn bon bon, screen curry foam
- Duck, pistachio, pickled local jubjube
- Crab tagliatelle, yellow curry, basil
The Tamarind and Cardamom Smash with Chalong Bay rum, tamarind, cardamom and lime reflects Bampot’s whimsical approach.
With its meticulously presented dishes and unpretentious style, Bampot has become a foodie favourite since it opened near Bang Tao Beach.
Stepping into Suay restaurant in Phuket Town is like entering the home of a friend, with its low-key and welcoming style providing a subtle backdrop to the sensational fusion food that’s about to be served.
Created by Chef Tammasak Chootong, known by many as Chef Noi, Suay means “beautiful” in Thai and his dishes have earned him renown not only for beautiful presentation but for his bold and sassy balance of flavours.
- Crab curry quiche Lorraine (where he adds a bit of Thai zest to the timeless comfort dish)
- Bite-sized Foie gras with tamarind and lemongrass dressing, a colourful finger food that looks as delicate as a flower yet packs a full flavour punch
Chef Noi’s vibrant approach to food has made him a familiar face on TV on Iron Chef Thailand, and he’s also keen to share his talents with others through his cooking classes at Positive Kitchen Studio.
A second Suay is set to open in Cherng Talay, offering easier access for those staying at Kamala villas or Surin villas and other central Phuket beach areas.
Acqua brings a touch of sophistication to Phuket’s Kalim area between Patong and Kamala beaches, all under the creative talents of its founding Chef Alessandro Frau from Sardinia, Italy.
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- His Octopus salad evokes childhood memories of swimming off the shores of Sardinia in search of octopus to catch, looking for the tell-tale signs of an octopus burrow: a gathering of colourful shells, stones and objects found in the sea. Chef Alessandro reinterprets this simple Sardinian dish using a sous vide cooking technique and a vivid presentation inspired by the environment of the burrow.
- Acqua’s Wood-fired roasted suckling pig, which has earned many rave reviews, is also prepared sous vide for 24 hours in a vacuum pack with mirto leaves and seasonings, then put into the wood fired oven for a crispy finish and crackling with a mouth-watering aroma.
A Mediterranean influence can be seen throughout Acqua, from its clean modern design to the chef’s signature dishes with Sardinian soul, complemented by an extensive, award-winning wine list.
The hearty flavours and fresh dishes of Taste by Chef Martin Ostlind ensured that those who discovered his restaurant after it opened on the Surin beachfront in 2006 avidly followed him when he moved to Cherng Talay in 2015. The restaurant’s name reflects the chef’s aim to serve the freshest food using the best ingredients from Thailand and around the world, organic whenever possible.
It’s a big and varied menu with no fewer than 10 types of flatbread alone! Taste is known for making its own breads, buns, sauces and ice creams, and using only top grade Australian striploin for its popular burgers.
WHAT TO ORDER:
- Fresh grilled fish tacos with a burnt chili aioli
- Steamed asparagus with beurre noisette hollandaise and crispy poached egg
- Thai twice-cooked pork cheek with tamarind and cucumber
Complementing the great tastes is the personal care and attention by Chef Martin and his partner Jade, and as a finishing touch they promise to serve their drinks “stiff”.
Tatonka Phuket Restaurant
Since it opened near Bang Tao Beach in 1996, Tatonka has upheld a consistently excellent presence in the Phuket dining scene, still the go-to spot for those wanting a guaranteed palate-thrilling meal in a relaxed setting.
Under the guidance of founder Chef Harold Schwarz, Tatonka is an expression of what he calls “globetrotter cuisine”, an exploratory fusion of American, European and Asian tastes that he discovered in his work and travel around the world.
Chef Harold says none of his dishes are in any “authentic” style, but rather conceived using different components from different areas of the world.
ONLY AT TATONKA:
- Larb gai cones (crispy cones stuffed with minced spicy chicken with feta cheese at the bottom)
- Pomelo prawn salad
- California-style crab cake quesadillas
In a place where trendy restaurants open and close in the blink of an eye, Tatonka is somewhat of a Grande Dame on the Phuket dining scene, yet its vibe still feels as fresh and lively as a newly-opened eatery.
Helmed by Chef Jimmy Ophorst, PRU is an acronym for Plant, Raise,Understand, a concept inspired by the chef team’s close relationship with local suppliers and farmers as well as in the foraging and discovery of new ingredients at Pru Jumpa farm found 15 minutes away from the restaurant.
UNIQUE VEGETARIAN DISHES:
- Deceptively simple cauliflower, a re-imagining of Chef Jimmy’s childhood vegetable plate
- Carrot with hollandaise and cured yolk cooked in a hot-stone pit in an age-old style
- The story of the kitchen’s deep connection with the local landscape is most exquisitely told through PRU’s gorgeous Layered dessert with roasted Phuket pineapple, jasmine caramel, a pine needle cake and Thai basil sorbet
Chef Jimmy, whose talents were honed at the acclaimed Gaggan restaurant in Bangkok before his arrival to Phuket, presents his farm-to-table dishes in tantalisingly eye-pleasing ways.
Opened as a simple seafood spot on the edge of Chalong Bay by Chamnan Prachantabutr more than 40 years ago, Kan Eang is the epitome of a chilled-out casual Phuket dining experience. Run by Khun Chamnan’s family, Kan Eang @ Pier has grown to be more upscale in passing years, but its main draws of this beachfront Phuket restaurant remain its alfresco tropical setting, fresh seafood and wonderful ocean views.
- Grilled Phuket lobster and curried horse crab
Just a few hundred metres away is the less formal beachfront restaurant Kang Eang 2, where families dine in large groups and let the kids run around on the sand.
WELL WORTH THE WAIT:
- Barbecued jackfish smoked over coconut husks
- Pla neung manao (steamed fish with lemon and chili)
- Prawn stir-fry with lemongrass, chili and tamarind sauce
The dining choices at both locations tend to disappear quickly off the plate.
As Phuket continues to develop as a melting pot for culinary innovation, food fans are spoilt for choice when exploring the creative tastes of the island’s top chefs.
FEATURED IMAGE: COURTESY OF PRU