Connect with us

Thai Life

Phuket Lifestyle: Secret dinners keep guests guessing

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published

 on 

PHUKET: Picture Phuket in 1785 (called Thalang then) when most of the island was still covered in virgin rain forest. Local people lived off the bounty of the nearby forests – roots, vines, leaves, barks, fruits, and seeds – and fresh seafood from the Andaman sea.

At the time, when synthetic medicine was unheard off, people believed in the healing power of plants. Local culinary wisdom abounded and food was prepared not only to nourish the body but also to cure ills.

This is the philosophy that forms the basis of the dinner we are about to sample. Dishes, we are told, are prepared by chef Premchit Prateep Na Thalang, following recipes handed down by generations of chefs and herbalists who had been suffusing and dispensing medicinal plants to the community for decades.

Only a few days before the dinner, guests were informed by email of the venue, which this time is the Sala Phuket Resorts and Spa on Mai Khao Beach, north of Phuket. The guest list and the menu were not revealed.

On the day, as welcomed guests gather on the beach front bar, waiters file in bearing aperitifs and canapes. A tangy juice made from wild mafai (a kind of Thai plum) and passion fruit sets the tone for a series of canapes made up of herbs, fruits, and spices collected from the Phang Nga forest only a few days earlier.

Take the exotic Andaman Prawn with Lemon grass Curry and Cumin Leaf with turmeric, kaffir lime leaf and fenugreek seed, for example. The long list of ingredients surprisingly results in a few bite-sized canapes with a mixture of pungent aromas vying for dominance. The brain racks furiously for a known catalog of scents but to no avail.

Norman Jones, co-founder of Na Thalang Ancestral Siamese Cuisine and our host tonight, explains: “The use of many strong medicinal herbs in one dish is not uncommon in southern cuisine. These herbs have a known cleansing effect on the body.”

Aperitifs come in a form of ya dong, a stiff liquor made from rice wine steeped with herbs and flowers (considered medicinal in their own right).

Ya Dong
tinctures can take months to mature. As female guests sip hormone-balancing and anti-aging concoctions, the men enjoy a cocktail known for increasing virility and longevity.

Eventually, we leave the bar, a little light-headed thanks to the ya dong, and are led to a clearing under a canopy of two arching trees.

A long table, bedecked with leaves, vines and exotic fruits, awaits us. Small oil lamps illuminate the table.

What follows is a series (eight to be exact) of entrees, featuring the wildest of edible fruits, leaves and roots, concocted, cooked and combined to challenge the most jaded of taste buds, and touch the senses in many different ways.

Most dishes are fresh, light but also playful in textures and clever in the combination of flavors, as exemplified in the chef’s signature dish ‘Lobster with Fiddlehead Fern Salad with Wild Horse Mango Fruit, sprinkled with roast and grated coconut’.

Chef Premchit appears with the first entree. An attractive lady with large expressive eyes, she delights the guests with tales of her fondest childhood memories: days spent foraging wild plants with her herbalist father in Phang Nga’s forests.

All entrees are paired with four wines, ranging from the very light and sweet Pinot Grigio, served with the herby lime soup in cucumber cup, to the fuller-bodied Merlot which beautifully compliments the aromatic ‘Curry of Grey Bolete Mushrooms and Wild Jengkol Seed.’

The dinner comes to a delightful end with three beautifully presented desserts of wild fruits, fruit sorbet, and sticky rice in coconut cream.

To clean the palette and aid digestion we happily chew on slivers of pickled wild nutmeg fruits and let the lingering sweet, spicy, and sour tang dissolve in our mouth. Black Assam tea rounds up this delightful experience.

Due to the secret nature of the event, guests are asked to keep the information on the rest of menu to themselves.

I can reveal one thing though: there is a chance to sample the delicious batter-fried sand fleas (yes), from the nearby coast.

Book the next Secret Na Thalang Dinner: 089 968 3363 or Premchit@NaThalang.com.

— Nanthapa Pengkasem

 

Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forums
🔔 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join YouTube for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram

image

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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

Follow Thaiger by email:

Thailand1 min ago

His Majesty the King donates 2.8 billion baht in Covid-19 aid

Coronavirus (Covid-19)49 mins ago

Covid UPDATE Provinces: 14,260 new infections, 119 deaths

Coronavirus (Covid-19)59 mins ago

Vaccination registration open for foreign residents over 60 in Bangkok

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Coronavirus (Covid-19)3 hours ago

Autopsy results for woman who died after mixing vaccines

Coronavirus (Covid-19)7 hours ago

Covid UPDATE Saturday: 14,260 new infections, news briefs

Thailand12 hours ago

Department head predicts Covid-19 could last up to another year

image
Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
World14 hours ago

Swedish prison hostage situation resolved with pizza

Thailand15 hours ago

Minister: Foreigners, migrant workers are cared for amid Covid-19

Coronavirus (Covid-19)19 hours ago

“Withhold Intubation” for certain older Thammasat Hospital patients

Coronavirus (Covid-19)20 hours ago

Bang Sue vaccination centre open for expats 60+, under must wait

Coronavirus News & Updates20 hours ago

“Covid-19” deaths said to cause crematorium in Bangkok to partially collapse

Thailand21 hours ago

Nakhon Sawan farmers make large profits growing fingerroot as Covid cure

Coronavirus (Covid-19)21 hours ago

Leaked document: military arranging private Moderna vaccines

Thailand22 hours ago

Nakhon Si Thammarat arrest drug suspect hiding in jar

Media22 hours ago

19 year old man drowns in a Kanchanaburi river while rescuing his puppy

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism5 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism5 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism5 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8

Trending