Dining delight at D Phuket

PHUKET: D Phuket is a relative newcomer to the island’s restaurant scene. Opened last year by Mrs Panarat “Oom” Jairakpakde and her husband Suvich Prechaharn, it has already become a focal point for diners who appreciate authentic central Thai cooking.

D Phuket’s concept is clear – Thai food “Bangkok style”. The word Bangkok when used in the same sentence as cuisine subtly implies food originating from or influenced by the cooking of the Thai Royal Court with its characteristic refined flavors and elegant presentations. D Phuket’s recipes are handed down by generations of Thai food connoisseurs and Bangkok restaurateurs.

This little gem offers a respite from the bustling of a busy neighborhood that is Samkong. It is fully air-conditioned and is decorated in a tropical seaside style, featuring pastel color walls, punctuated by a bright yellow ice cream counter that dominates one side of the restaurant.

The swing-seat at the entrance, strewn over with brightly colored cushions, adds to a homely atmosphere. For starters Oom recommends two old-time favorites, Mee Krob (55 baht) and Khao Kriap Pak Mor (70 baht).

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The former is crispy-fried rice noodles lightly mixed with a tamarind and soy bean sauce, cooked prawns, pickled garlic, shreds of omelette and Chinese chives. It’s light and crunchy with only a hint of sweetness. Mee Krob is usually served as snack or kong wang, but can be part of a complete meal of curry and rice. Oom assures me that no other places in Phuket serve it, so here is your chance to savor this unique dish.

Next up are the delicate Khao Kriap Pak Mor or rice dumplings. To use the word dumpling is almost an insult to these dainty treats made by shaping thin rice pancakes over taut cheesecloth which are then tied over a pot of boiling water, a process you don’t want to try at home. With small balls of peanut minced pork placed in the middle, the pancakes are then folded into beautifully pleated scallop shapes and brushed over with aromatic garlic oil.

Khao Kriap Pak Mor tends to be a little oily and is best eaten with lettuce, coriander leaves and chillies.

Those with a soft spot for Gaeng Kieo Wan or green curry (80 baht) will not be disappointed here for it is served up with roti. The taste of this light and crunchy Indian style bread, dunked in the creamy Gaeng, is indescribable but wholly satisfying. Try prawn for a change from the usual chicken or pork. To accompany the green curry, Kai Hor Bai Toey (85 baht) is perfect.

The pandan leaf-wrapped marinated chicken fillets are deep fried to succulent perfection. One bite should fill your palette with the fragrance of this very special herb. Kai Hor Bai Toey is quite peppery and best eaten with some pickled cabbages and sesame soy sauce.

Other dishes worth mentioning are the roast duck red curry (120 baht), Larb Pla Salmon or Isaan-style citrus salmon salad with mint (150 baht), and Nam Prik Pla Too – an assortment of fresh and blanched vegetables with spicy shrimp paste dip.

To clean the palette after all the spicy food, D Phuket has an array of ice creams on offer. They are created by the family-owned enterprise Bonito. Oom and Suvich are very proud to have concocted over fifty flavors of ice cream, ranging from full cream gelatos to fruity sorbets. Very popular is the creamy Durian or Noi Na (custard apple). Or try the equally satisfying mango, coconut or passion fruit sherbets.

D Phuket prides itself on creating what they term ‘healthy’ ice cream, which is made with dairy milk and is low in sugar, using the freshest of locally sourced fruits. A scoop (50 baht) can be paired nicely with freshly made waffles.

D Phuket’s menu is full of central Thai delights (and a small selection of southern dishes) at reasonable prices in a relaxed setting. Families with kids will love the long list of ice cream and smoothies.

Please note that D Phuket does not have beef on its menu.

The restaurant is located on Yaowarat Road, half way between the Wachira Phuket and Bangkok Phuket hospitals, and is open daily from 11am to 11pm. T: 076 523465.

— Nanthapa Pengkasem

Thai Life

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