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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;
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:
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,
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, or visit
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, Open 10am to 6pm Tuesday to Saturday.
New cuisine at Kata Beach
Monday 9 January 2012, 09:45AM
The Phuket News caught up with Bryan Burger, the Executive Chef at the Boathouse’s new beach club, Re Ka Ta, on Kata Beach.   How long have you been in Phuket and why did you move here?I have been in Phuket for the last four and a half years. After working in Bangkok for a while, I was offered the opportunity to work in Phuket and since then the island has become home for my family and I. The beaches and wonderful people were also a great draw for me.    Tell us about your new position at Re Ka Ta.Re Ka Ta is a new beach club that is sure to spark some great interest in Phuket. From the food to the drinks and wonderful setting, people will really be amazed. With regards to the food, it is contemporary beach cuisine with some true signature dishes not found in Phuket.    What culinary events are coming up at the restaurant?Next year we will have some chefs visiting us from overseas, but we cannot share the names of the chefs as we want it to be a surprise. We will also have some inspirational dining events and parties throughout the year.    What is your background and kitchen experience?Originally I am from South Africa, but after completing my culinary training in South Africa, I left to travel through Europe and Asia where I developed a love for global ways of life and cuisine. I have worked in some remote and sensational locations as well as for the likes of UB40, tennis star Martina Navratilova, ambassadors, presidents and Royal Family members.    What is different about your cooking style and what interesting dishes can guests expect when they dine at Re Ka Ta?The cuisine that we serve and the way that it is prepared uses modern cooking techniques, with a bit of living cuisine (raw food) to help bring the light, fresh and healthy touch. In general our main goal is to revitalise beach cuisine to a more modern approach.   Re Ka Ta dinner menu highlights Rock on – arugula, pear, caramelised onions, spiced walnut dressing, goat’s cheese, B280 A Greek wedding – almond feta, tomato, romaine lettuce, cucumber, olives, pickled garlic, tomato vinaigrette, B250 Tuna in a can – needle beans, quail eggs, tomato, onion, capers, new potato, B280 Crisp –pork belly, pumpkin and coriander purée, bean shoot, coconut salad, B780 The beef – wagyu fillet, mushroom marrow, compressed watermelon, coffee glaze, B1,150 Cave man – frying pan whole wheat pizza, tender wagyu beef, sun-cured tomato, buffalo mozza, rocket, aged balsamic, B450 For more information see
Pure Bliss
Thursday 5 January 2012, 01:04PM
‘Vintage meets modern’ is how the Bliss Beach Club, the newest hangout right on Bang Tao Beach, has been designed. Giuseppe ‘Pepe’ Viva, the General Manager at Bliss Beach Club, says the venue was designed by Stem Design in Bangkok. The venue features a wooden bar (complete with backdrop from collected wood around Phuket), vintage lamps, canvas fans, private dining areas, indoor and outdoor areas, garden and lawn only metres from the sand, as well an extensive drinks menu. “Bang Tao is one of the biggest beaches in Phuket, and it’s very understated and not so many people know about it.”   This means, he says, it is the perfect location for a place like Bliss.Pepe says the club has 120 different wine labels, with 25 by the glass from Australia, Chile, Spain, South Africa and more. Heading the bar is chief cocktail maker Rom, a Thai national who has previously worked at highly-rated Q Bar in Bangkok and Samui. His signature cocktail is the Tom Yum Iced Tea (B220), where vodka is infused with kaffir lime leaves, chilli, lemongrass and ginger. It is one of about 70 cocktail choices.Pepe says the unique thing about Bliss Beach Club is that Rom can virtually come up with any cocktail you like. Another talent of Rom’s is Irish Coffee, where he entertains customers while creating it, turning the whole procedure into a show. Chef Alexander Oddy hails from Melbourne, Australia, and has worked extensively on the international food menu, full of salads, seafood, and other lighter food options. Appetisers start at B160 and mains at B240. Fish is around B550, lamb B750 and pasta B300. The menu is full of interesting adaptations and new creations, such as the fried tofu, taro and pumpkin dish (B200), the grilled eggplant and shrimp salad (B220), soft shell crab sandwich (B280) and the zucchini penne (B320). But Pepe says the beach club is far from high end, with a real mixture of clients so far, including both Thais and local expats, as well as guests from nearby Andara, Dusit and Amanpuri. “You can come here and have a bottle of wine for B13,700 (Château Lafite for the record) or you can come for a beer for B100.”The draft beer – Stella Artois and Hoegaarden – is also proving popular with customers. Entertainment wise the bar holds Sound Wave Sundays, from 3pm every week. Music is “chillout” by Texas DJ PJ Stanley, as well as a kids playground to make it a family place too.  Bliss Beach Club, 202/88 Moo 2, Cherng Talay, Thalang District. For more information visit
A traditionally festive feast
Friday 23 December 2011, 04:49PM
Maurice Deveney will be delivering a feast of traditional Christmas food on Sunday to customers at Angus O’Tool’s Irish pub in Karon, just as he has the past nine years. “I get into the Christmas spirit and I enjoy the buzz – it’s busy and there’s a bit of pressure, which I like.” Englishman Maurice is the head chef and co-owner at the Irish pub, and the Christmas Day menu will include either a prawn cocktail or melon with port as starters, followed by the traditional roast turkey complete with vegetables, stuffing and brussels sprouts. Dessert consists of Christmas pudding with brandy sauce, and the whole meal costs B595. “It’s very relaxed. People come here because they know this place has a good reputation.”In preparation for the 100 or so customers Maurice expects on Christmas Day, he will have to cook 15 turkeys. He first takes all the turkey meat off the bone, and “boil roasts” it (roasting it in a pan with water at the bottom).This ensures the cooking time is kept to a minimum and the meat comes out tender and moist. The experienced chef, originally from Birmingham, has been in Thailand for 12 years, and Angus O’Tools in Karon has been open for nine years. He began his first cooking job as a way to make money to pay for tickets to football matches, but discovered a talent. These days has a raft of experience as head chef behind his name. He has worked at large hotels and restaurants in the United Kingdom and has even cooked for the Queen Mother – so his Christmas Day feast is guaranteed to be delicious. Angus O’Tool’s Irish Pub, 516/20 Patak Rd, Soi Islandia, Karon. Reservations are recommended for the Christmas Day event though walk-ins may also be possible.
Christmas with Lady Pie
Friday 23 December 2011, 04:47PM
On Christmas Day when the rest of you will be relaxing and enjoying a festive season drink, spare a thought for Lady Pie, also known as Susan Usher. The Australian, famous for her meat pies and other treats, will be up at 4am on Sunday to cook around 60 hams and turkeys for the people of Phuket. She won’t be alone; she’ll will have her six staff members helping her load the turkeys and hams into the oven 10 at a time, to ensure they are delivered freshly-cooked in time for the Christmas Day meals. “It is one of our busiest times of year, and the week before Christmas is just manic,” Susan says. She opened her famous Lady Pie store and cafe in Cherng Talay six years ago, but last Christmas was her first at testing the market for turkeys and hams. Last year she cooked 10 hams and 18 turkeys, and this year it has risen to 30 of each. She also sells steamed puddings and Christmas fruit mince pies. About 4,000 fruit mince pies and around 500 puddings have been ordered this year. Susan’s business also does a lot of catering around the Christmas season, including one event last Saturday which involved cooking a roast dinner for 50 people. Also available from the cafe are home-made Christmas-themed gifts from the Good Shepherd charity foundation. Susan’s own Christmas with husband Harry is held later in the evening on December 25, once all the orders for Christmas lunch and dinner have gone out. Then the couple sit down and relax, knowing all the hard work is over for now. “But there’s no way we eat turkey for dinner,” Susan jokes.  Orders for the Christmas items can be made through or by calling the shop on 076271049.
DINING: French first-timers
Friday 23 December 2011, 04:44PM
Stephanie and Ben Anglade from France took over fine dining Naiharn restaurant, L’Orfeo, in 2009 and since then have updated and improved the popular place, as well as increasing the clientèle. A lifestyle change brought the husband and wife team to Phuket, but they had absolutely no experience in running a restaurant. But that didn’t matter, with them both growing up in food-loving France, and armed with a lot of enthusiasm for their new project. Stephanie has a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) and while in France worked for an HR consulting firm, while Ben spent 10 years working for a web-marketing agency in Paris. They decided  to move to Phuket for a career change and Ben began an internet search for possible jobs. They spotted the ad looking for new owners of the restaurant, situated on Soi Saiyuan in Naiharn. On arrival, both were filled with apprehension but also excitement for the new challenge ahead. The first few months were tough, with the couple learning the ropes. They redecorated the interior with a French touch, and spiced up the menu.Ben, who runs the kitchen, took a cooking class in France where he found working in a kitchen was “not too difficult” and realised it came naturally. Ben works alongside Chef Oh, and the sous chef Apple, both Thai nationals. They teach him how to do things like filleting fish, and he trains them how to improve their technique and make sure the Western meals are top-notch. The restaurant is a cosy, romantic place with lovely lighting and a colour scheme in reds, oranges, yellows and tasteful browns, giving a real Oriental/French feel. The tables are set perfectly with unique table settings and gleaming silverware. The place attracts lots of couples for “romantic evenings”, as well as groups of friends, plus families with young children as there is a children’s play area. The menu includes salads, pasta, seafood and a range of meat dishes using high-quality imported meat from Australia and New Zealand. Popular items on the European menu include Beef Rossini (seared foie gras on top of Australian Angus beef tenderloin, with mushrooms, potatoes and madeira sauce) B750, the Australian Angus beef tartar (B610), and the foie gras dish for B630. Desserts are around B200 and include crème brulée, sorbet, and a yummy lemon tart. L’Orfeo was named in the Thailand Tatler list of best restaurants in 2011, and earlier in 2007 with previous owners, with its European wine list and food menu. Stephanie says, “If you had told me five years ago we would be running a restaurant in Phuket I would have said “Yeah right”. But we just followed the opportunities. It was a challenge and we felt like taking it.” L’Orfeo, 95/13 Moo 7 Saiyuan Rd, Rawai-Naiharn, Phuket, 076288935,, and