As you enter the resort and make your way towards Big Fish you are treated to a spectacular view – the resorts vast central swimming pool fills the foreground, followed by the pristine sand of Nai Yang Beach and the endless blue of the Andaman Sea stretching to the horizon.
I’m even told that fisherman will often land at the beach to offer their daily catch direct to the chef.
The restaurant offers a choice between indoor, air-con seating and balcony seating to take advantage of the cool ocean breeze.
As it was a particularly sultry Phuket evening, we chose to stay indoors, and took a corner table with pleasant views through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
As we received our menus I noticed a small but important detail – unlike the stiff wooden or metal seats at many resort restaurants, the seats at Big Fish are more like arm chairs, supremely comfortable while still being in the perfect position for relaxed dining.
To get started we ordered some appitizers – crab cakes, tuna tartare and seafood tom kha and perused the mains while we waited.
The menu lives up to Big Fish’s name and offers a broad selection of seafood, simply prepared and served with a choice of sauces – keeping the emphasis firmly on the taste and freshness of the seafood.
Grilled seafood is the name of the game here and you can choose from Nai Yang squid, tiger prawns, and both Phuket and rock lobster.
There are also grilled whole fish, crispy skinned on the outside and succulent and juicy inside – they include black pomfret, Andaman seabass and red snapper.
The seafood sauces are also well judged not to overpower the seafood and include sweet chilli, spicy lime, lemon butter cream, garlic butter sauce and Big Fish’s signature butter sauce.
Despite the emphasis on seafood, meat lovers are certainly not forgotten. You can choose from a wide variety of cuts of premium Australian beef cooked to your liking and served with a range of sauces.
Each grill selection comes paired with your choice of sides such as gratin potato, mashed potato, French fries, vegetable fried rice or steamed brown rice.
Besides the grill selection, the menu offers several signature dishes which allow the chef to flex his culinary muscles elsewhere in the kitchen.
For the vegetarians, or just those looking for something a little lighter, there is a spinach and ricotta tart with flaky puff pastry and an eggplant parmigiana with rich tomato sauce topped with grilled mozzarella cheese.
There is also a classic lobster thermidor, a hearty ‘surf and turf’, and a decadent seafood platter – great for those who want to try a bit of everything.
On the chef’s recommendation I ordered the “overnight” beef short rib, because as all chef’s know, often the best flavour comes from the lesser cuts when they are slow-cooked to break down fat and lock in the flavour. My companion choose the lobster thermidor – having never tried the classic French seafood dish.
Our starters arrived soon after, and bode extremely well for the rest of the meal. The crab cakes were superbly crunchy on the outside and filled with plenty of tasty crab meat – dipped in some freshly made sweet chilli sauce, they were heavenly.
The tuna tartare is a symphony of fresh flavours, chunks of tender tuna and ripe mango, lightly dressed in a Japanese-inspired sesame dressing and some puréed avocado on the side.
The tom kha came in for a special mention from my Thai companion, “I’ve never tasted a tom kha this good!” she exclaimed, and I had to agree.
The creamy, rich coconut soup was intensely packed with flavour and filled with huge prawns and chunks of squid.
The mains were equally impressive, my short rib literally fell of the bone and the tender flakes of meat were smoky on the outside with a deep, well-aged flavour further enhanced by the red wine sauce.
The thermidor, with a good-sized Phuket lobster, was served with just the right amount of hollandaise sauce and my companion concurred that the French do indeed have some good ideas when it comes to cooking lobster.
We decided it was only proper that we should sample a dessert and quickly settled on the caramel tart. It was a good decision – the decadently sweet and creamy caramel was textured with crispy praline almonds and mellowed with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.
So, if you are looking for relaxing beachside dining experience, a visit to Big Fish is a must.
For more information and bookings call 076 625 555 or visit: marriott.com/hotels/travel/hktnb-phuket-marriott-resort-and-spa-nai-yang-beach