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Phuket Lifestyle: Suey Restaurant, a beautiful fusion

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PHUKET: Call me old-fashioned, but I have misgivings about so-called “fusion food”. I like my food the way it’s cooked traditionally: no added milk in my tom yum goong please, and I am very wary of mango sticky rice in the form of a shake.

All that changes when a friend invites me to dine at Suey Restaurant in Phuket Town. Built like an old-style Phuket bungalow, surrounded on three sides by shaded verandas and a small front garden, Suey feels very much like home, albeit a stylish one.

White is the predominant color here, accentuated by a small dose of bright acid-green. It’s minimalist, timeless and smart – a perfect backdrop for the kind of contemporary cuisine on offer. Suey’s clientèle is a mixture of local Thais and expats, but as its reputation grows, some tourists are seen to frequent the place as well.

Khun Thammasak ‘Noi’ Chootong, who is a seasoned international chef and food consultant, helms the kitchen here. He has an impressive track record of working for a Michelin-starred restaurant in Germany, on the QEII world cruises, and more recently at the Banyan Tree in Indonesia and Phuket. Noi believes that a great dining experience doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive.

Here at Suey, Noi has designed a menu that is a creative mix of classic Thai and Western dishes that are tasty and a feast for the eyes. Excellence here is gauged not only by flavour but also delicate presentation and a delightful twist from the norm.

Take, for example, the Cappuccino Sea Scallops Tom Kha (119 baht), which is typical coconut galangal soup dressed up with frosty milk and garnished with grilled Japanese scallops on lemon grass sticks. The texture and aroma of the slightly charred scallops contrast delightfully with the creamy frosty soup. I take back what I said about milk in tom yum.

Steamed Salmon Wraps In Khao Soi (northern curry) Sauce (129 baht) is the creation that has earned Noi a reputation as a distinguished food designer. This special dish is being served in Banyan Tree restaurants all over the world. Here is your chance to savor it without breaking the bank.

For meat lovers, Suey stocks a variety of imported beef and lamb. Lemongrass Roast New Zealand Lamb Chops (650 baht) will not disappoint with its succulence and aroma. No need for mint sauce as it is served up with a fresh and spicy tomato salsa.

Another favorite main dish, Steamed Sea Bass, is served in lime juice with plenty of garlic and green chilli. Noi prefers to use Chilean sea bass, which he says is fleshier than its Thai counterpart, making it perfectly succulent when steamed.

The classic Isarn (Northeastern Thailand) food, known for its extensive use of aromatic herbs, is given a creative twist. Among many salads on offer are Tuna Salad, a refreshing concoction of fresh yellowfin tuna in mint and lime sauce, Spicy Salmon Carpaccio, Suey style with plenty of fresh herbs, and Spicy BBQ Eggplant Salad garnished with crab meat and dill.

The lowly sticky rice is given a new lease on life too, presented in gorgeous purple, a color derived from the anchan flower, a kind of Thai sweet pea.

Noi is particularly passionate about dessert as he says it gives him plenty of scope to be decorative and playful. His confections reflect his passion as he transforms familiar sweets into something that will confound all expectations and touch the senses.

Particularly impressive are the Mango Sticky Rice Spring Rolls, deep-fried, sticky-rice-stuffed pastry rolls served with ripe mango and homemade black sesame ice cream.

Another classic delight is the Crepe Suzette with Peach Melba and vanilla ice cream smothered with plenty of Cointreau. The crepe is done in a true French style – lacy and paper-thin, the best crepe I have had in a long while.

For drinks, Suey has a small wine list, but offers plenty of cocktails and healthy sodas, using locally sourced fresh aromatic herbs.

‘Suey’ means beautiful in Thai and this restaurant lives up to its name while offering unique dishes in a quaint and relaxed setting.

It is a perfect place for quick lunches on work days as well as sustained leisurely dining in the evening.

For the Crepe Suzette alone I will definitely return.

Suey is located on Takua Pa Road (near Rassada Road) in Phuket Town. Opening times: 11am-3pm, and 6pm-10pm. Closed on Mondays. Tel. 081-747 2424

— Nanthapa Pengkasem

 

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