THE PAVILIONS PHUKET BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET Kata Rocks
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The Lotus blossoms
Thursday 9 February 2012, 02:43PM
A lady that lunches
Thursday 9 February 2012, 02:41PM
Uraiwan “Waeo” Voute first opened The Lunchroom three and a half years ago as a way to spend more time with her children, compared to her previous job as a busy dive tour guide. The Lunchroom, just opposite the Kathu waterfall road and next to Grizzly’s sports bar, is a relaxing restaurant that many Phuket-based expats use as their local hangout. Khun Waeo first moved to Phuket in 1996 to work as a trainee waitress but soon began assisting tour groups and and managing the day-to-day running of a busy dive shop in Kamala. “With two young children, it was very full on. I soon realised I had to start something of my own, and I’ve always loved eating,” she says with a laugh. What began as a small coffee shop with cakes and snacks is now a full blown restaurant, which was expanded considerably when Khun Waeo took over the shophouse next door. The restaurant is open air, with matching rattan furniture, and a nice view of the nearby Kathu bush. “It’s not really fancy, but it is very comfortable. Many people come here because they feel welcome.” The menu is a mix of Thai and European dishes, including chicken with cashews (B100), cordon bleu (B250 and made fresh every day), and spaghetti carbonara (made with real cream, B150). Khun Waeo also offers half portions, meaning people can easily mix and match their favourite foods. However, she’s most well known for her Australian beef burgers and ‘Lunchroom curry’, chicken breast filled with cheese and topped with a yellow curry sauce. “It’s a great combination.” The Lunchroom is open every day except Sunday, from 7am to 11pm (kitchen is open until 10pm). There is also free wi-fi, and computers available for customers.The Lunchroom, 9/96, Moo 6, Kathu, 076-323-772, 081-956-3166, lunchroomphuket@gmail.com
European ice cream treats
Thursday 2 February 2012, 10:57AM
Stepping inside Samero’s Ice-cream Paradise in Patong is so similar to going into an European ice-cream parlour, with its black and white chequered floors, a sparkling chandelier, marble tables, and black and cream bar stools, that you could forget you are just a few streets away from busy Bangla Rd. The ice-cream store, decorated in red and white trim, sells more than 20 ice-cream flavours, plus daily specialties such as Kibana, a kiwi banana mix, or pineapple-basil. There are more than 50 different creations on the menu, and if you still can’t find something you like, you can design your own. Prices start at B49 for one scoop, up to B300 for the “Mount Everest” – a whopping eight scoops. One unique recipe straight from Vienna is the ice spaghetti, where ice-cream is put through a special press and comes out looking exactly like pasta – kids love it, I’m told. After working as a communications engineer for 15 or so years in Vienna, Austria, owner and head ice-cream maker Wolfgang Sameros decided to change his career. Mr Sameros spent two months at Carpigianin Ice-cream university in Italy, learning the trade and how to make traditional European ice-cream, also known as gelato, before moving to Phuket. The store was opened in October 2010. “Now my customers smile at me, and children come in with big eyes. It’s a great job,” he says. Ice-cream is made regularly and is not frozen, so it has more flavour, texture, and taste, he says. The only ingredients are fresh milk, cream, mineral water, lots of fresh fruits and sugar – no powder or preservatives. The ice-cream is also sold from an environmentally-friendly cart, driven around Patong. The cart was designed by Mr Sameros and the ice-cream is kept cool through electricity generated a on-board compressor, powered by a 80 watt solar panel. Perfect for those hot afternoons relaxing on the beach.   –Claire Connell – Samero’s Ice-cream Paradise, 92 Sainamyen Rd, Patong, 087-468-5456. sameros.icecream@gmail.com, www.sameros.com
An Asian take on a French classic
Thursday 2 February 2012, 10:54AM
The recent Wat Chalong fair attracted thousands of visitors, and hundreds of food vendors to feed them. Out of all the stalls, one in particular attracted hordes of children who wanted to sample a Japanese crepe. This stall was decorated in paper cones painted with various Japanese cartoon characters. Traditionally, crepes are part of French cuisine, but the Japanese love them almost as much, and have developed their own distinctive style of making them. As with all things made in Japan, Thailand has taken this treat to its heart, with shops and vendors across the Kingdom selling the sweet-tasting snack. Phanaphat “Tid” Sawatsri has been a Japanese crepe vendor for one year, after wanting a change of career. Despite initial appearances, this dessert is not easy to cook, she says. “There are several types of Japanese crepe – crispy, soft, rolled or folded. As such, every vendor has their own individual way of cooking them” Ms Phanaphat says. “My ones are quite crispy. I learned this style from another vendor, who taught me how to spread the ingredients in the pan just right. If it is not spread well, it may be sticky or uncooked.” The crepes are made from wheat flour, egg, fresh milk, sugar butter and salt. Ms Phanaphat says the ingredients are first spread on a flat hot plate, then filled with various toppings before finally folding it into a triangle shape, and serving in a paper cone. Fillings can be savoury or sweet. Examples of the former include baked fish, crab meat, chilli paste, shredded pork, and sausage; while vanilla, pandanus, and jam are popular for those with a sweet tooth. “Kids generally order the crepes sweet, while adults order them spicy,” she says. Now that the Wat Chalong fair is over, you can find Ms Phanaphat’s stall at the market fair, opposite Thepnimitra Temple on Chao Fa Road, every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, 3pm to 7pm. -Sukunya Phoonpong
Jamie's Phuket: Phuket waterfalls
Friday 27 January 2012, 10:34AM
I love waterfalls. I once detoured across half of South America to get from La Paz in Bolivia to the absolutely incredible Iguazu falls, which are on the border between Brazil and Argentina. Meanwhile, the Niagara falls on the American/Canadian border are maybe the most visited in the world. I’ve been there too, and it’s quite nice, that little boat ride on the ‘Maid of the Mist’. I tell you what though, you can’t do a boat ride at Iguazu. Certainly not when I was there in wet season. An unbelievable torrent of chocolate brown water was shooting from the jungle. One of the most amazing places I have ever been and well worth the ride on the ‘Train of Death’ to get there. Closer to home, the waterfalls in Phuket seem to be mentioned in just about every guidebook, website and blog. If you like nature and want to get away from the majority of tourists who prefer to stay at the beach, then the island’s waterfalls – all of them jungly and quiet – are worth a visit. That said, unless you live in Saudi Arabia or some other desert country and have never seen a waterfall or jungle, I wouldn’t suggest you devote a day to a ‘Phuket Waterfall Tour’. While we don’t have anything like Iguazu, you can still enjoy a pleasant little jungle walk and take a swim in the fresh water running off the hills, some of which rise up to over 1,700 feet above sea level. KATHU WATERFALL: Only a few kilometres from where we live is the highest point in Phuket, over 540 metres above sea level. Near this hill you have Kathu waterfall, only a short drive from Patong beach.You park at the end of the hill road, cross a bridge and start walking up some steps ... and up... and up.There are several wonderful cascades as you climb, in which locals are always playing and swimming. TON SAI WATERFALL: In the northeast of Phuket island is a large green area, which is designated national park. It’s called Khao Phra Thaew, and on each side of the 1,000 foot jungle covered hill in the middle are two waterfalls: Ton Sai on the west and Bang Pae on the east.In between is pretty wild country – I have read that you can hike between the two, but a friend of mine (who is a really fit runner and hiker) has done it and tells me it’s very tough going. He was even once attacked by a wild gibbon up there. Ton Sai is easy to find: turn right at the traffic lights at Thalang town (right if you are heading north). Follow the small road. I believe entry is free after 3pm (though subject to change), otherwise it’s B200.  There is a nature trail and several small falls up the jungle path.And on the way there you are in the heart of rural Phuket, so close to the main tourist beaches but in a different place entirely. BANG PAE WATERFALL: As mentioned, on the other side of the hill from Ton Sai is Bang Pae waterfall, and also the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project.The Bang Pae area is probably one of our favourite places in Phuket.There are many small back roads, some great rural scenery, vast rubber plantations, pineapple fields, and a few restaurants that we like to visit, such as Bang Pae Seafood and Peang Prai, which is at the entrance to Bang Pae – again, there is an entry fee here of B200 per person. Note that the entry fee does not go to the Gibbon project, which you can visit for free, although a small donation is always appreciated.If you’re planning to visit, be aware that Bang Pae is very popular with locals at the weekend.There are several small restaurants just inside the entrance. TAMNANG WATERFALL: Earlier this year, we were driving back to Phuket from Khao Sok National Park and decided to look for Sri Phang Nga national park. A friend had posted some photos on Facebook, it looked good and seemed to be not far off our route (but far enough to call said friend and ask him, “Where is it?”!).Sri Phang Nga is not actually in Phuket, it’s in Phang Nga province. You have to drive from Phuket via Khao Lak to Takua Pa and then on northward towards Kuraburi. About 30 kilometres from Takua Pa is the turn-off and then you have about another 10 kilometres on a narrow road, becoming a dirt road... no wonder it’s not well known.And here we found a really superb waterfall called Tamnang, with a cool fresh swimming pool beneath it filled with fish which swim all around you. Read more of Jamie’s posts atJamie's Phuket Blog   Jamie works at liveaboard dive specialists Sunrise Divers in Karon. More info: 084 626 4646, info@sunrise-divers.com; sunrise-divers.com.
From Libya with love
Friday 27 January 2012, 10:28AM
Considering recent events, not many people can say that living in Libya was one of the best things that could have ever happened to them, but that’s exactly what happened to Swedish chef Bernt Ferb. Bernt is the head chef and co-owner of the Karon Hillside Hotel, and has lived in Phuket for seven years. But when he was 13 his parents moved to Tripoli, the Libyan capital. His father worked in construction and was managing the development of a tourist village in the area. Here Bernt spent three happy years attending an international school, where there were more than 50 different nationalities. Back in the early 1980s, Libya was by and large a safe and prosperous place, and nowhere near as volatile as now. Bernt says: “There were never any problems, no-one was going around killing people. “After I moved back from Libya, I wanted to travel abroad. I definitely would have stayed in Sweden [for the rest of my life] if I hadn’t been to Libya. I’m much more happy living overseas.” He spent two years in a Swedish ‘restaurant school’ and went on to run three successful restaurants, including one which was given a Bib Gourmand in the Michelin guide, before moving to Thailand. He first worked as a chef and manager of the Villa Mangosteen in Khao Lak, and also spent time running the ‘Ferb’ guesthouse in Patong, before taking over the kitchen at the Karon Hillside Hotel about a year ago. He speaks fluent Thai, which helps him considerably in a kitchen with all local staff. The menu at the hotel is international, including many Swedish specials such as meatballs, and a potato and onion dish. “Sometimes I find it hard to get the ingredients I want, other times a dish isn’t so popular so I’ll replace it. "Experimenting keeps us awake and continuing to learn new things.” Some thanks for that open outlook in life must go to the Brother Leader of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.   karonhillsidehotel.com
Visiting Chinese treats
Friday 27 January 2012, 10:25AM
Two Chinese management trainees helped Holiday Inn Resort Phuket Mai Khao Beach’s executive chef Dennis Barton create the perfect Chinese New Year meal for guests at the resort on Monday (January 23). Naomi and Cat, both 21 years-old, are in their third week of a three-month work experience stint at the resort. They are studying at the Yingxin Hospitality Management College of CUTT, in Chengdu, central China. Chef Barton has experience with Chinese dishes, having worked in various Chinese restaurants and with Chinese chefs before, but the two students have been able to help perfect the dishes and share with Chef Barton tips, tricks and secrets of their own. While on their work experience, the girls have also been helping to translate menus for the resort’s Chinese guests, plus providing a traditional Chinese breakfast for them, including hot soya bean milk (dujiang) and rice porridge (zhou). For Naomi, the trip is her first out of China and her first time seeing a beach, as well as tasting fruits such as guava. “I am learning so much, like how to give perfect service. I am learning the Thai language, experiencing a different culture, and learning all about different types of dishes and their ingredients.” On Monday night the girls dressed in qi pao, their traditional Chinese New Year red dresses with gold tassels, much to the delight of hotel guests. Chef Barton said the girls had been a great help in creating dishes that had significant meaning for Chinese New Year, such as chicken which signify family unity, and chive dumplings which mean eternity, plus long noodles which translate to good luck for a long life. Dishes on Monday evening included Hong Kong barbecue pig, king prawns in Xo sauce, Chinese roasted duck roll with hoi sin sauce, thousand-year egg with pickled ginger, plus mooncakes, white bean cheese tart and steamed rice cake. Chef Barton has been an executive chef for around 20 years and has a wealth of experience working in Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Pattaya and the Maldives. He was trained in French/German cuisine but today has extensive experience in many other cuisines, and says his cooking style is a “modern approach to classic food”. He says his aim for the Chinese New Year feast was to create dishes that had meaning, and include both traditional foods and favourites that guests would recognise.
Surin steak out
Friday 20 January 2012, 10:34AM
If you’re looking for a dinner destination for a group of red-blooded males, Opus One in Surin might just be the place. The restaurant is well-known for its ‘Cowboy Steak’, a monster 1.2 kilogramme Australian Wagyu steak served with baked potatoes, vegetables, bearnaise sauce and red wine jus. Priced at a mere B3,500, the gargantuan steak meal is designed to be shared between three to four people. According to General Manager Ben De Bellis, “The guys love it, they just go for it every time.” The restaurant, situated on the third floor of Surin Plaza, began life as a French bistro but has now been redesigned with a more varied concept, now serving a mix of Asian, European and global dishes. Besides the ‘Cowboy’, there are several stand out dishes on the menu says Chef Christoph Lindner. The tuna tartar, served with fried wonton noodles, soy sauce, ginger corianderand sesame seeds (B290) is a popular order, as is the Pacific black cod poached in concentrated miso soup (B780). Resident on the island for five years, Chef Christoph has worked at Opus One since March last year. Aged just 29, the impressive talent has already spent six years as an executive chef. Trained in France, he admits to loving the high pressure environment that comes from working in a kitchen, and lists fish as his favourite type of cuisine. “There’s lots of variety, and it’s [very] delicate.” His main motto in the kitchen is to keep the food simple, and not too technical: “Keep the quality, and don’t try to manipulate it too much.”Opus One Restaurant & Bar, 3/F, The Plaza Surin, 076 386 562; opusonephuket.com
Diners warm to Flame’s chicken
Friday 20 January 2012, 09:50AM
Flame, on the road into Laguna, opened in June last year but has already developed a solid reputation among expats and tourists for its excellent spit-roasted chicken. The chicken (B220 half and B380 whole) is marinated in spices for 12 hours, then spends two hours cooking on a German rotisserie. It’s well worth the wait – it tastes amazing. Heading the kitchen team is Chef Eak, from Phatthalung province, but who has called Phuket home for the past 20 years. He started as a kitchen hand before making the step to kitchens at the JW Marriott and the Holiday Inn Patong. The menu at Flame is by no means restricted to roast chicken. It covers kebabs (B120 upwards), wraps (B110 upwards), boneless lamb, baby pork ribs and pizza (starting at B210). But the stand-out menu option remains the rotisserie chicken. The French-roasted version is flavoured with white wine, thyme, rosemary, shallots and honey, and is by far the most popular, Chef Eak says. Thai Spiced Chicken (flavoured with pineapple, mango, lemongrass, lime and kaffir leaves), Arabian Chicken (flavoured with cumin, tumeric, coriander, dates prunes and raisins), and Indian Spiced Chicken (flavoured with yoghurt, massala, garlic, ginger and balti paste) are the other options. The meat is flavourful, moist, and cooked to perfection. The kitchen is open-air, which means you can sit at the bar while watching the chefs work their magic on your meal. When it comes to the pizzas, Chef Eak expertly twists and twirls the raw dough. On top of the base go tomato purée, mozzarella, mushrooms, artichokes, ham and olives, and voilà, you have Pizza Capricciosa, one of the popular pizzas at the restaurant. The atmosphere is breezy and relaxed, with many regulars popping in and out for a snack or a sit-down meal. It has a good name among the expat community around Cherngtalay, and is also popular with return tourists staying nearby. The restaurant is owned by Twinpalms and is next door to their Bake café. Flame offers a free delivery service within five km for orders of B450 and above. The environment has a Phuket summer feel to it, and the chicken, if you haven’t already guessed, is to die for. Flame, open daily 11am to 10pm. 58 Lagoon Rd., Cherngtalay, Thalang, 076-270 707; fax: 076 325 673 and email: sales@twinpalms-phuket.com.
A moment in time
Friday 13 January 2012, 01:56PM
Phuket resident Noppamas “Ae” Mungwiriya and her mother Jutharat Sakubol form the perfect mother and daughter team at Live Present Moment cafe on Millionaire’s Mile in Kamala. Originally from Chiang Mai, the interior of Khun Ae’s cafe is decked out with high-quality designer furniture from her own custom made architecture and furniture company, Aka Casa. Featuring a blend of redwood and teak furniture, including a large funky mirror, and Jim Thompson fabrics, the venue combines chic style with a substantial menu.“I just wanted to do something different and I think we are in a great location. I saw the potential here in Kamala for a cafe that incorprated art and design features,” says Ae. “I can’t change the fact that there are heaps of bars here, but perhaps I can give people something a bit different.” Options on the menu include an all day breakfast (B180), buttermilk pancakes (B150), and various Thai dishes (B200 and up), plus desserts and cakes including tiramisu, panna cotta and chocolate cake (from B90). Khun Ae says her raw green smoothie, made from organic vegetables and fruit, is particularly popular because of its great taste and health benefits (B70-B90 each). So where did she pick up her culinary skills? “I like to cook. I have a lot of foreign friends who are chefs and I learn from them.” She’s also picked up cooking tips from her mother, who used to run a Thai restaurant in Germany, and from her father, who is a chef in Japan. “It’s great working with Mum. We get along really well and only get frustrated with each other sometimes,” she says with a laugh. Live Present Moment, 16/15 Moo 6 Rim-hard, Kamala (on Millionaire’s Mile just before the 7-Eleven), 089 191 8488, livepresentmoment@gmail.com
Cooking with love
Friday 13 January 2012, 01:51PM
People working at the Andara Resort on Millionaires’ Mile in Kamala say the smiling face and warm personality of executive chef Supreeda ‘Ooy’ Khemkhang is largely responsible for the success of the resort’s Silk restaurant.   Certainly, from the minute I first meet Chef Ooy she is beaming, and totally friendly and relaxed. “She’s very positive,” Andara’s e-marketing manager Thitipong Kingkaeo says. “She’s always smiles and never gets angry. She cooks with love.” Chef Ooy is also modest. It’s her team who makes her happy, she says, and a happy chef translates into good food. And good food it is indeed, with Silk restaurant having a fine name among the island’s expats. Her personality and cooking talent led to Chef Ooy effectively being headhunted by one of Asia’s most high-profile businessmen, Allan Zeman. Chef Ooy has come a long way from her days training to be a waitress at a technical college in Songkhla province. As part of the two-year hospitality certificate, she found herself completing her training at the Holiday Inn in Patong.  While she was here she was spotted by the head chef, who said “You can cook, I’m sure. I’ve got a position for you.” Her first job was working in the cold kitchen at the hotel but she learned fast and other jobs followed, at the Layan Beach Resort and then later at Amanpuri. She was working in the kitchen at Amanpuri when Dr Zeman was a guest at an event there. Impressed with the cuisine, he contacted Chef Ooy at least four times to ask her to consider becoming his private chef in his Phuket residence. She turned him down, but he then made an offer she found she could not refuse: head chef at Silk. She accepted and has been running the restaurant ever since.Dishes on the menu are a mix of Western and Thai. Chef Ooy says the Thai dishes are a mix of recipes created by her mother and ones she devised herself. The restaurant’s signature dishes include Goong Sarong (prawns wrapped with Phuket noodles served with a homemade mango sauce) Miang Pla Grob (Deep fried white snapper with ginger, lemongrass and cashew nuts). Another dish which Chef Ooy rates as one of her best is the Massaman curry with sweet potatoes and peanuts. The restaurant’s newly introduced barbecue evenings (B1,400++) are held every Thursday evening and include fresh seafood (Phuket lobster, tiger prawns, blue fin tuna steaks and blue crab) plus roasted pork belly, sushi, Thai salads, Thai desserts, and more. –Claire ConnellSilk is located at Andara Resort & Villas,15 Moo 6, Kamala Beach, Kathu, Phuket. Tel. 66 76 338777 ext 680 e-mail silk@andaraphuket.com, or visit silkphuket.com
Famous french chef visits
Monday 9 January 2012, 09:50AM
Books and bikkies blend
Monday 9 January 2012, 09:47AM
With a huge personal collection of books at her disposal, a love of baking and a desire for a change in career it was only natural that Beverley Sangsuwan would eventually open up a bookshop or cafe. And in Naiharn, she has managed to combine the two to create the very homely Book Cafe, located just before the hill that goes over to Kata. Beverley and her husband Chewy have now had the cafe open for several months. The cafe features an extensive selection of used books in good condition, most from Beverley’s collection but also purchased from various second hand shops, or donated by friends. Non-fiction, local interest, and real-life stories also feature, with crime books being the most popular. Books are reasonably priced and those who return them in good condition can get 50 per cent off their next book. “I try to think about what I want to read. I try to find titles that are recent, modern and will appeal to most people.”Most books are in English but there is also a small German and international selection. Then onto the treats – the cafe is stocked with whatever goodies Beverley feels like baking that morning, ranging from chocolate brownies – a favourite with everyone – cookies, cupcakes, lemon cheesecake, custard slices, banana loaf, or Australian crunch (a chocolate, coconut, and cornflake slice popular with those from Down Under). There is also fresh coffee and tea, protein shakes including banana shakes with bee pollen, sandwiches, and fresh juices, including Roselle juice. Beverley hails from Manchester, England, but has lived in Phuket for about six years. “I was working as an English teacher but I got to the point where I wanted something different. I love being at home with the dog (Panda, a gorgeous sheepdog).” She noticed there were not any used book stores around the Naiharn area where she lived so decided to go ahead with the venture. The little Thai house has been renovated and is a cute hangout that sits on a small hill with a welcoming and friendly atmosphere and good music. You can also find a small collection of handicrafts on offer, with hand-made cards, bags and earrings from Chiang Mai, and locally-made jewellery. The Book Cafe, 100/2 Soi Kata/Sai Yuan, Moo 7, Tambon Rawai, 0857942371, bookcafephuket.com. Open 10am to 6pm Tuesday to Saturday.