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A Thai barbecue with a twist

PHUKET: Fed up with getting an upset stomach from dodgy “moo ka ta” (Thai barbecue) venues around the island, Executive Chef Sascha Cyttrich decided to start his own moo ka ta evenings at the Mövenpick Resort Bangtao Beach Phuket where he works.

By Claire Connell

Friday 7 September 2012, 02:37PM

When he first arrived in Phuket six months ago, Sascha, originally from Germany, came across a moo ka ta restaurant, a small place full of locals enjoying what seemed to be delicious food, cooked on the top of a hot pan with charcoal underneath.

“I didn’t understand what to do because they had limited English skills, and I did it all wrong, but I really enjoyed it,” he says.

“But I went two times and I kept getting a bad stomach.”

But by now he was fixated on the idea of moo ka ta – the Thai version of the well-known Korean barbecue – and decided to introduce a moo ka ta night at the Mövenpick.

For those unfamiliar with the popular style of eating, moo ka ta usually involves a clay pot with charcoal in it. On top of this is a metal plate shaped rather like a hat with the brim turned up. On the side are plates of vegetables and thinly-sliced meat.

Servers fill the “brim” with hot soup, and diners then barbecue the meat on the “crown” of the hat, and drop vegetables into the soup.

Juices trickle down from the meat to add to the flavour of the soup. Spicy dips are also supplied. It’s a real hands-on, cook-it-yourself eating experience.

Sascha said that many foreigners he spoke to were also apprehensive about visiting moo ka ta restaurants because of hygiene issues – most often the raw meat is sitting out on display and is not refrigerated, and is often not good quality.

“I wanted to do it properly,” Sascha says, so what is possibly the island’s first “high end” moo ka ta barbecue was formed, using top quality meats, but keeping true to the tradition of moo ka ta, which means sharing food and company together in a group.

The meat is a mix of beef tenderloin and ribeye steak from Australia, plus lobster, tiger prawn, German sausage, and a wide range of other fresh meats, all kept refrigerated until the very last minute when they are brought out on ice.

Small portions of the raw meat are put on display at a time, so the turnover is high which means there are no food hygiene issues, says Sascha.

“Because I’m a chef, hygiene is the number one rule in the kitchen – I can promise you won’t get sick.”

So far it is proving a hit, with 25 people enjoying their moo ka ta dinner on the Friday night we visited, most of them residents of Phuket.

Guests are guaranteed a great night out, sitting at tables in the sand on Bang Tao Beach, tasting a range of meats cooked in a very local way – just delicious.

The moo ka ta evenings are held every Friday from 7pm at the beach club at the Mövenpick Resort Bangtao Beach Phuket, in Cherng Talay. Reservations recommended.

Price is B990++ per person, includes one welcome drink, starters, moo ka ta, side dishes, dessert and fruit platter. Phone: 076 310 400.

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