Having launched the inaugural Guide to Bangkok last year, the red book extended its footprint this year to include Phuket and Phang-Nga.
Whilst many restaurants in Bangkok surprisingly retained their stars, their plates and Bib Gourmands despite several Chef changes, the big news this year was Suhring promoted from one star to two stars, nine new one stars in Bangkok and of course, for Phuket, the first star restaurant ever, PRU at Trisara, made all the more special by being the only one across Phuket and Phang-Nga.
Whilst there were no losses within the already awarded one star and two star restaurants in Bangkok, there were a few promotions and additions.
Michelin’s almost 100 year old understated definitions of star meals state a one star meal is “High quality cooking, worth a stop” and a two star meal is “Excellent cooking, worth a detour.” Suhring, serving up European contemporary cooking joined the existing highest rated two star restaurants in Bangkok; Gaggan, Le Normandie and Mezzaluna.
New one star restaurants consisted of two promotions from last year’s Michelin plates, Le Du and Gaa, newly awarded Canvas and Saawaan in the innovative category and Methavalai Sorndaeng, R-Haan, Ruean Panya, Sorn and Suan Thip seemingly rewarding the more traditional Thai restaurant offering and recognizing that fine restaurants are not only found in downtown Bangkok, but also within the provinces of Samut Sakhon and Nonthaburi.
But PRU was not the only winner in Phuket and Phang-Nga, although one of Trisara’s other restaurants, Seafood, a casual Thai bistro, serving up Mama’s lost recipes also won a highly sought-after Michelin plate.
There were also a number of other restaurants awarded. The award of a plate in Michelin terminology is “Fresh ingredients, capably prepared: simply a good meal.” Those awarded are:
Phuket Plates: Acqua – Italian, Bampot – European Contemporary, Black Ginger @ The Slate – Southern Thai, Blue Elephant – Thai, Crust – Italian, Etho’s – Thai, Go La – Street Food, Jadjan – Street Food, Jongjit Kitchen – Street Food, Khao Tom Thanon Di Buk – Street Food, La Gaetana – Italian, La Sala – Thai, Loba Bang Niao – Street Food, Mee Ton Poe (Wong Wian Ho Nalika) – Street Food, Nahmyaa – Thai, O Cha Rot – Street Food, O Tao Bang Niao – Street Food, Pak Nam Seafood – Seafood, Red Sauce @ Rosewood Phuket – Italian, Ruen Thai – Thai, Seafood @ Trisara – Seafood, Suay (Cherngtalay) – Thai Contemporary, Ta Khai @ Rosewood Phuket – Thai, Talung Thai – Thai, Tu Kab Khao – Southern Thai.
Phang-Nga Plates: Esenzi @ Iniala – Seafood, Gop Phochana – Street Food, Krua Bai Toey – Thai, Nai Mueng – Southern Thai.
Bib Gourmands are described by Michelin as “Good quality, good value cooking.” Those awarded are:
Phuket Bib Gourmands: Bang Pae Seafood – Seafood, Chomchan – Southern Thai, Chuan Chim – Street Food, Go Benz – Street Food, Hong Khao Tom Pla – Street Food, Mor Mu Dong – Street Food, One Chun – Southern Thai, Raya – Southern Thai, Roti Taew Nam – Street Food, Surf & Turf by Soul Kitchen – European Contemporary, Ta Tuay – Southern Thai, The Charm – Southern Thai.
Phang-Nga Bib Gourmands: Khrua Luang Then – Street Food, Khrua Nong – Street Food.
In total, in Phuket and Phang Nga, 44 restaurants received recognition and this is an impressive haul!
Back to PRU; it is a restaurant at the leading edge of sustainable farm to table dining. Operating at the uber-deluxe Trisara hotel, the restaurant name stands for Plant, Raise and Understand. Ingredients are sourced from throughout Thailand; it even has its own farm, Pru Jampa.
Local produce on the menu includes black crab from Phang Nga, river prawns from Surat Thani and a mouthwatering selection of Thai artisan cheeses which can give French cheese a run for their money. The innovative 6 and 8 course set menus including a vegetarian option are offered with an impressive wine pairing from a carefully curated world class wine list.
Signature dishes to whet your appetite are pickled duck egg with a dashi broth of Phuket abalone and local carrots cooked in their soil. For those dessert lovers, a specialty is organic beetroot textures with an ice cream of sour dough bread, Isaan mountain almonds and marinated mulberries.
The Chef and magician behind these dishes is Jimmy Ophorst, a Dutchman who has made Thailand his home.
Despite only one starred restaurant highlighted in Phuket, it is encouraging that the region is definitely developing as a culinary destination. It is exciting to see many Southern Thai restaurants awarded and also simple street food recognised.
This is the beginning for Phuket and Phang Nga. I am frantically booking tables in those restaurants I have yet to experience to gain a reservation before they get too busy and urge you to do the same.
I also ponder what the 2020 guide will bring and anticipate perhaps a few more stars in Phuket and Phang-Nga next year. My heartfelt congratulations to all the winners!
Chris is a former Michelin Guide Inspector who, following an international career in hospitality spanning 30 years in both the Middle East and Asia, has now settled in Thailand and will contribute a monthly restaurant column.