Smartly uniformed staff greet and direct me to an elevator which transports me to Hansha, the hotel’s latest venture into Japanese Sushi and Sashimi. Located in Reflections, an ocean fronted rooftop terrace lounge, the views demand a short pause to fully savour; perched atop the cliffs and looking out across the Andaman sea.
I am warmly welcomed by Executive Chef Mark, a fellow Brit from south of the border who introduces me to Chef Arnu, who has gained extensive experience in several highly rated Japanese restaurants in Bangkok. Having joined the hotel many years ago, he has now, at Hansha, found his true passion.
Arnu recommends me to dine Omakase, (priced at B3,750 net); this directly translates to ‘I leave it up to you’, enabling the Chef to serve the best of the day’s catch. The almost exclusively Japanese sashimi grade quality fish is regularly flown in direct from Tsukiji market in Tokyo. A la carte options are available, as are value for money sashimi and sushi platters, refreshing salads, Chef’s signature innovative Maki alongside the more traditional for those less adventurous.
I begin with an artfully presented sashimi salad containing delicate chunks of Hamachi, salmon, tuna and octopus, bathed in a piquant miso dressing, accentuating the freshness of the fish. The quality of the fish is exceptional, the flesh melting in the mouth. This is followed with a glistening Fine de Claire oyster topped with fresh ginger and mirin, the latter adding mild acidity to balance the richness of the stunning oyster.
I am delighted to discover that Mark has chosen to serve Hebridean salmon, 100 % Scottish and the heir to ancestral bloodline stretching back a millennium. The cold and stormy weather enables them to become firmer, offering a distinctive fresh and succulent taste.
I am keen to try this product and select an a la carte dish of salmon, ponzu and jalapeno. The plate arrives, pretty as a picture and I can now say, without any nationalistic bias, that this salmon is truly very special indeed.
Arnu now serves me with expertly formed sushi. Precision carved slivers of Hokkaido scallop, kingfish topped with foie gras, and a brightly shimmering shard of tuna topped with fresh ginger and spring onion.
The rice, with which they are lovingly bonded, is a premium imported Sasanishiki rice from Sendai. The grain and texture of the rice, world class and Arnu elevates it even more with a hint of yuzu. The vegetables are also imported; fresh root wasabi, yuzu, mirin, rice wine vinegars, soy and shin-shoga no amazu-zuki or Japanese pickled ginger to the uninitiated.
A welcome comforting miso soup brought my meal to a close.
However, Arnu would not let me leave without experiencing a dessert from the tempting selection.
I am brought a green tea crème brulee with homemade vanilla ice cream. It is again a lesson in art and I feel guilty to eat it; well almost! A crunchy layer of sugar on top of a warm, smooth and tasty green tea custard blends perfectly with a chilled yet creamy vanilla ice cream.
As I bid farewell, the Scottish inclement weather continuing to prevail, I reflect on a truly authentic evening. The bar is cosy, requires reservations and is only open evenings, Friday to Tuesday. However, for those Phuketians seeking an experience evoking the essence of Japanese cuisine, with premium sushi and sashimi, book your counter seats at Hansha, you will not be disappointed!
Chris is a former Michelin Guide Inspector who following an international career in hospitality spanning 30 years in both the Middle East and Asia. He has now settled in Thailand and will contribute a monthly restaurant column.