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Phuket Lifestyle: A great grill experience

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Lifestyle: A great grill experience | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: When we organized our visit to The Grill at Regent Cape Panwa, the newest luxury resort on the cape, I was intrigued by general manager Brice Borin’s offer to show us the “Regent experience” as he put it.

Later that week, sipping a cool drink at the open-air rooftop bar, watching a cruise liner sail off towards the horizon on the Andaman Sea, I was beginning to get a sense of what such an experience might entail.

When he sat to join us, we asked Brice to elaborate on what exactly he meant. “Take these prawn crackers for example” he said, gesturing to the spicy, crisp yellow crackers served with a rich satay sauce, that we had already started snacking on, “we make them ourselves, with our own mix of prawn and spices. In fact, we make our own jam, mustard and ice-cream… even our own bacon”. We were impressed, but it turns out that these are not the only individual components of the menu to be made from scratch, dozens of usually pre-ordered items, such as bacon, smoked salmon, even dried muscatel grapes, are all prepared from fresh ingredients in The Grill’s kitchen.

This dedication to sourcing the best ingredients, and allowing the quality of the food to speak for itself, is the hallmark of executive chef Justin Baziuk. Hailing from New Zealand, Justin has worked in top restaurants in Australia, China and Dubai, and it seems as if the Regent has let him off the leash, so to speak, when it comes to stocking his larder. The cuisine Justin is producing is simple, not overcomplicated in terms of flavor, and his main aim is to showcase the ingredients and allow them to be the stars of the show.

Soon, we moved down to the lower dining level, where Justin greeted us and began to take us through the menu. Within minutes, it became clear that he has an abiding passion for meat – good meat. He deftly explained to us some of the intricacies of Angus/Tajima crossbreeds, marble scores and grain fed versus pasture fed cattle.

“Coming out of Black Creek in Western Australia, I’ve got a Black Angus/Tajima Wagyu cross, which is pasture fed for 14 months and finished on grain for 450 days.

“To find a piece of meat that is finished on grain for that long is not that common and gives it that ultimate marbling,” he said. After that, the only question left to us was whether the cow was black or white, and in all likely hood, he could have told us.

We decided to leave ourselves in Justin’s capable hands when he offered to create a selection plate showcasing some of his champion ingredients. For starters, was a tasting platter of seared foie gras, raw eye tuna slices stuffed with blue swimmer crab and topped with caviar, Spanish white anchovies with shaved fennel and whiskey cured Tasmanian salmon (cured in-house, naturally). As we savored these fresh flavors, I spoke to Brice about the concept of The Grill restaurant as part of the Regent’s approach to hospitality.

“It’s what I call a fine dining experience, but still in a very casual way, ” he said.

The Grill has a extensive menu, but each of the ‘main’ ingredients can be prepared in a variety of cooking styles, so you can choose your meat and seafood and then specify how you would like it prepared.

“We do this so people can come to the same restaurant one night and have Western style and the next night have Asian style and the next Indian style and so on.”

By providing this exacting quality of food and service, Brice hopes his guests can enjoy a complete and relaxing holiday experience without ever having to leave the resort.

“I’m a hotelier, what I mean by that is, that I’m in the hotel business, I’m not in the business of hotels, if you have that [approach], business will come.

“My guests are coming and they enjoy it. We have guests that come and never leave the hotel. That’s what I want people to talk about, the experience.”

As we continued to talk, Justin returned to introduce the highlight of the evening. Sitting on the rectangular platter where several juicy morsels of meat, cooked to pink perfection. A sirloin of purebred Tajima, tenderloin from Tasmania’s Cape Grim, salt bush-fed Bultarra lamb “you can’t go past that” and finally a succulent rib eye of black Angus/Tajima beef. The incredibly tender meat truly did speak for itself, needing nothing but a drop of jus to accentuate its incredible flavors. Side dishes for this carnivore’s delight included, asparagus in truffle hollandaise, chips with shaved truffle and Parmesan, and finally, some delectable grilled portobello mushrooms.

Almost full to bursting after our main course, and some well-chosen wines from the extensive and reasonably priced wine list, we allowed Justin to persuade us to taste a selection of his decadent desserts. Chocolate was definitely the theme here, with fondant, ganache and ice-cream, all crafted with deep and deliciously rich 70 per cent Verona chocolate. The chocolate fondant with Bailey’s ice-cream was devilishly good, particularly for that oh-so-satisfying moment when the you crack it open to watch the lava-like filling flow onto the plate.

At this point, I was convinced of the pleasures of the ‘Regent experience’ and our appetites were utterly sated as we sat conversing, the taste of chocolate lingering on our tongues. We asked Brice what he liked most about Phuket since he moved here to run the Regent.

“I really love the Panwa area, it’s like Phuket 20 years ago, it keeps the true charm of Phuket,” he said. He lamented that so many of Phuket’s residents rarely venture to Cape Panwa and told us about an offer he has created to help attract locals. For the rest of June, when you come to enjoy dinner at The Grill, you only need to spend 5000 baht and you can turn your wonderful evening into a wonderful night by staying in a luxury room from only 2500 baht. What’s more, you get a sumptuous buffet breakfast the following morning.

“We want to attract the locals, so they don’t have an excuse not to come, like it’s too far, I say, now you have no excuse, you can stay the night,” said Brice with a grin.

So if your looking to indulge yourself, be sure to book a table at The Grill and enjoy your own Regent experience.

Keep checking our Lifestyle pages for the latest happenings across Phuket. Alternatively, join our Facebook fan page or follow us on Twitter.

— Mark Knowles

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Thailand

Things that have changed in Thailand in the Covid Era | Top 10 | VIDEO

The Thaiger

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Things that have changed in Thailand in the Covid Era | Top 10 | VIDEO | The Thaiger

Top 10 things that have changed in Thailand during the Covid-era

Things have changed. In some cases they’ve changed a lot and may never be the same again. Many people are suffering as a result of the impacts of lockdowns and the border closures. Some people are being forced to re-invent their lives as a result. Here are some of the main things we believe have changed since January this year.

Face Masks

The now every-present face mask is now with us for a long time. In Asia, it was never uncommon to see people wearing face masks, for traffic, air pollution, fears of disease or just to a fashion statement.

In the Covid-era, mask wearing will now just become a normal thing we wear when in public spaces. Even when the government relaxes the actual laws about the wearing of face masks, most people, we predict, will continue to wear them anyway.

Taking Your Temperature

It’s everywhere, it doesn’t appear to be very effective or reliable, but it’s not uncommon to have your temperature taken by someone pointing a gun-thing at your head, numerous times a day. The only people to have benefitted from these temperature checks are the manufacturers of infra-red temperature check machines.

Flying in the Covid-era

While the domestic carriers are all flying again, they’re doing it tough. Planes are sometimes half-empty and there’s certainly less choice of times and destinations, compared to before the Covid travel restrictions set in.

But it hasn’t stopped the budget airlines from making the situation extremely competitive with the fares still very low. The aviation industry will certainly re-emerge with fewer airlines as some will be unable to weather the Covid storm.

Confidence

Many business had to close during the lockdown. Some have re-opened, some tried to re-open but have since closed again, and some are struggling along as best they can. But people, through fear or simply being unable to afford it, are going out and spending less. The impacts of recessions across the reason will have long-lasting, profound effects on consumer confidence.

Eating Out

There’s been few clear winners in all this Covid mess. Delivery companies are just one of them, and the local motorcade delivery services in particular. Grab Food and Food Panda are just two examples of the new way we eat and many restaurants are changing their table service model, and even their take away services, to suit the new normal of food on demand. Some restaurants have even closed their doors forever and turned into virtual restaurants, delivering food exclusively through the convenience of app ordering and delivery.

The Travel Industry

Apart from the obvious lack of international tourism, there’s no doubt we’re simply going to be travelling less in the short to medium term. Many people will be unable to afford the long holidays of the pastand may travel less, or not at all.

For the communities that relied on tourism, the changes in their situation has been profound. Businesses are having to reinvent their model to cater for domestic tourism or simply find other ways to diversify their business plan, or just wait out the situation.

The Economy

Thailand is in recession. So is everywhere else, and the situation, sadly, is likely to get worse as the Covid-era stretches out and restrictions hold back investment. Some previously good businesses are now out of business. Businesses that were struggling before have been proven unsustainable.

Globally, the government stimulus poured into local economies has caused artificial spikes in some stock markets. In other countries, where the government paid salaries for companies that were forced to close up or sack staff, are finding it hard to ween people off the grants and get them back to work.

In Thailand the economy has been hit hard, particularly in the export , tourism and hospitality industries. The downstream effects of all the staff losing their work, will have an effect on the local economy for many years.

Shell shock

Thailand, reliant on international tourism, has found itself exposed once the borders were closed. As the situation extends way past the ‘few months’ people were expecting, the full impact is starting to hit hard, particularly in places like Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Their reliance on tourism has exposed their economies and left thousands wondering what else they can do to sustain themselves.

Whilst Thailand has recovered quickly from past political unrest, tsunamis and past pandemic threats, this time there will be a much longer path to recovery and will force many businesses to re-evaluate their businesses.

The red light industries

The reality has certainly hit home for tens of thousands of Thailand’s sex workers. Although not officially recognised in Thailand, prostitution has been a huge local industry in the past, creating an enormous underground market for locals and international tourists as well.

Without official government acknowledgment, their jobs are not recognised and their salaries vanish once the bars and borders close. No rights, no unemployment pay. The number of prostitutes in Thailand could be upwards of 100,000, and these workers have had to head home, many back to the northern and north east provinces. Thailand’s red light districts were locked down for almost 3 months and bars and clubs, and the bar girls and boys, have been struggling ever since.

The pause button

There are few people that have not been profoundly affected by the impact of the coronavirus. Whilst some have been confronted directly with health issues, and even the deaths caused by Covid-19, of friends or relatives, others have had to put their lives and businesses on hold.

People have been unable to travel, business doors have been closed, many people have lost their job and thousands of events have had to be cancelled or postponed.

Even though many parts of the economy are being to grind back into action, there will be a lingering hang-over for just about everyone as they re-orient their lives to suit the new situation.

In some cases, the pause button may have to be hit again, as the world continues to battle Covid-19, and find new ways to live with it.

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Tourism

Riding and renting a motorbike in Thailand | Top 10 tips | VIDEO

The Thaiger

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Riding and renting a motorbike in Thailand | Top 10 tips | VIDEO | The Thaiger

Motorbikes and scooters are the most popular mode of transport in Thailand, and most of south east Asia. In many cases, they’re the ‘engine’ for the local economies. Most of them just go and go and go, they’re astonishingly reliable. Getting around on a motorbike is easy enough and will get you to your destination faster, whilst the cars and trucks are plodding along in the traffic.

But riding a motorbike in Thailand can also be very dangerous. If you stick to the common sense basics – ride within the speed limits, wear a bike helmet, obey the traffic rules and don’t drink and drive – it remains a perfectly reliable way to get around.

Here’s our Top Ten tips to make your journey on the motorbike safer, and, more comfortable.

Number 1. Wear appropriate clothes. Falling off a motorbike without anything covering your knees or elbows, is going to be painful enough – having at least some fabric between you and the road is going to reduce the painful grazes a bit. Long pants and a long shirt are a good start. Always wear shoes for the same reason. And a motorbike helmet as well – it’s the law and it could save your life.

Number 2. Keep your bike in good condition. As hardy and reliable as the modern motorbikes are, they will run better and for longer if you keep up the service schedule, and change the oil around once a month. Apart from changing the engine oil, keep an eye on the tyres as the road surfaces in much of Thailand, plus the heat and humidity, will wear down your tread quickly. Your brakes will also need checking. Then there’s the lights at the front and back, which are your best way to inform other driver’s what you’re doing in the traffic. Indicators may not be used much by the locals, but YOU should.

Number 3. Make sure you have a proper license. Your car license in your home country isn’t legal in Thailand to ride a motorbike. Your International Drivers License for cars, issued in your home country isn’t going to cut it either. Legally, the only document that will satisfy the Thai legal system, officially, is a Thai motorcycle license. Keep this in mind if you want to rent a motorbike! If you live in Thailand you simply must get a proper motorbike drivers license of you want to ride a motorbike here. And whilst we’re talking about a Thai Motorbike License, we’re talking about the ones you get from the Land Transport Offices, not along Khao San road for 500 baht!

Number 4. Check your travel and health insurance. Every week The Thaiger hears from tourists stuck in a Thai hospital with mounting hospital bills and an insurance company that won’t pay out because they didn’t have a proper drivers license. Or no insurance at all. And even if you have travel or health insurance, check the fine print because most insurance contracts don’t include driving on motorbikes in Thailand.

Number 5. Driving is different in Thailand. Many of the rules are the same as countries that also drive on the left-hand side of the road. But it is a totally different vibe. Apart from the lunatics that drive too fast, drink-drive or ghost ride…. That’s driving against the flow of traffic on the wrong side of the road…. there’s just a different attitude to driving. It’s a bit like swimming with a school of fish… if you just go-with-the-flow, and keep in the stream of traffic, you’ll generally do well. Be extra careful and mindful if you’re not used to the flow of Thai traffic. Number

Number 6. Green lights mean GO. Red lights also mean GO…. sometimes. You’ll see what we mean. Don’t even think about trying it. You’ll either end up fined, or dead.

Number 7. Have a practice. If you’re either new to driving a motorbike or new to driving a motorbike in Thailand don’t thrust yourself into a busy stretch of road immediately. Try something a little calmer and slower to get a feel of the subtle differences in Thai traffic movement. You’re sharing the road with trucks, cars, buses and passenger vans.

You’re meant to stay on the left hand side and you’d be well advised to do so, despite the behaviour of some Thai motorbike drivers that want to mix it with the ‘big boys’. Get some confidence with your motorbike and way it handles, and moving in and around traffic on a quiet road before you tackle the main roads.

Number 8. There’s pot holes, then there’s POT HOLES. The roads around Thailand have really improved in the past decade but you’ll still find pot holes in places there wasn’t one the day before. If you want a really good reason for giving plenty of distance between you and the car in front, it’s to see the pot hole before you end up IN it. Whilst car tyres might glide over these holes in the road, your motorbike is likely to come to an abrupt halt, with you continuing over the front of the handlebars – something to do with Newton’s first law of motion.

Number 9. If you’re not sure, don’t. Never ridden a motorbike? Didn’t ride a motorbike in your own country? There’s two good reasons not to try it for your first time in Thailand.

It can be a bit of a challenge for even experienced motorbike drivers, well different anyway. There’s plenty of other ways to get around and if you want THAT selfie for your Facebook page there’s thousands of bikes parked by the side of the road where you can get a photo. Just because your friends did it when they travelled to Thailand doesn’t mean you have to.

Number 10. Police will often arbitrate on the spot at an accident. If you are in the wrong and damaged someone or someone else’s bike you’re probably going to have to pay up. Now, there’s the ‘official’ way to sort things out in these case and the ‘unofficial’.

The policemen will get to the scene soon enough and, often, decide there and then who was at fault. They’ll often negotiate how much should be paid as well. The urban myth is that Thai police always side with the the locals – that’s not the case although, if you are indeed in the wrong then you’re IN THE WRONG!

If you are concerned that you’re being rolled by the locals in sorting out a simple motorbike accident then call the Tourist Police or your consulate immediately. DON’T agree to pay any money to anyone until you’ve spoken to at least the Tourist Police.
Getting into an argument with the local police will almost certainly guarantee you’ll come off second best. Demanding that you speak to the police chief, etc, will also usually end up in the situation not going well in your favour. Be patient and don’t lose your cool. You are in a foreign country, you’re a guest and they do things differently – end of sentence.

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Bangkok

Khao San Road to reopen for Halloween

Caitlin Ashworth

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Khao San Road to reopen for Halloween | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook: The Club Khaosan

The party is coming back to Khao San Road this Halloween. The once booming backpacker district went through a renovation during the lockdown period and now the Bangkok governor says they’re ready to reopen the street.

Khao San Road has long been a district frequented by foreign backpackers. It’s known for it’s grungy and lively bar scene as well as its eccentric mix of street food, like scorpion on a stick. During the lockdown, 48.4 million baht was put into the streets for major renovations like leveling out the road and footpaths, adding some gutters and designating space for emergency vehicles.

Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang says a Khao San Road Halloween party to help stimulate travel. There was talk about removing street vendors from Khao San Road, but the idea got a lot of backlash. Luckily, street food will stay put and 240 food vendors will be set up along the street from 9am to midnight for the Halloween weekend.

Khao San Road will also run a street market and set a stage for performances on the November 28 and 29 as well as News Years weekend, according to Nation Thailand.

Aswin says events are also planned for Loy Krathong and New Years. The area around the street was so packed during last year’s New Years, that streets and alleyways were more like mosh pits. Phones were stolen, fights broke out. It was a mess.

Loy Krathong happens every year on the 12th month of the Thai lunar calendar. People make offerings for the water goddess and ask for forgiveness. A krathong is usually made of banana stems, leaves, flowers, candles and incense sticks. It’s then floated down a river.

Khao San Road isn’t known as a place where people ask for forgiveness, but apparently Loy Krathong will be celebrated along with other cultural events, according to Coconuts Bangkok. Loy Krathong happens to fall on Halloween this year.

SOURCES: Coconuts Bangkok | Nation Thailand | Bangkok Post

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