Fine Dining in Phuket

Thailand's largest island may be famed for its blue skies and white-sand beaches, but an emerging dining scene led by creative chefs is putting its restaurants on the global map.

WRITTEN BY
Simon N. Ostheimer

PUBLISHED ON
July 17, 2017

LOCATION
Phuket, Thailand

Pru makes its own produce at a 240-acre farm northeast of Phuket and Old Town has been revitalized by Surf & Turf. Chef Tammasak Chootong has made a name as Phuket’s fusion food pioneer; Jamie Wakeford, who apprenticed at Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck, turns heads with his Thai-fried cauliflower with truffle mayo.

Thailand’s largest island may be famed for its blue skies and white-sand beaches, but an emerging dining scene led by creative chefs is putting its restaurants on the global map.

Suay

Slide SUAY: In many ways, chef Tammasak Chootong is the standard-bearer for the current wave of innovative independent cuisine on Phuket. Chef Noi, as he is better known, launched his own restaurant Suay in 2010, combining his Thai heritage with his German upbringing to bring some of the first fusion to the island. Favorites with islanders include his signature laab tuna (fresh tuna tartar with lime and spices), Phuket-style quiche Lorraine with curry crabmeat, and his mango sticky rice spring roll with black sesame ice cream. Never one to stand still, recently he's branched out with his own restaurant consultancy business and cooking school, Positive Kitchen, and is a regular feature on hit Thai TV show Iron Chef. Slide SUAY: In many ways, chef Tammasak Chootong is the standard-bearer for the current wave of innovative independent cuisine on Phuket. Chef Noi, as he is better known, launched his own restaurant Suay in 2010, combining his Thai heritage with his German upbringing to bring some of the first fusion to the island. Favorites with islanders include his signature laab tuna (fresh tuna tartar with lime and spices), Phuket-style quiche Lorraine with curry crabmeat, and his mango sticky rice spring roll with black sesame ice cream. Never one to stand still, recently he's branched out with his own restaurant consultancy business and cooking school, Positive Kitchen, and is a regular feature on hit Thai TV show Iron Chef. Slide SUAY: In many ways, chef Tammasak Chootong is the standard-bearer for the current wave of innovative independent cuisine on Phuket. Chef Noi, as he is better known, launched his own restaurant Suay in 2010, combining his Thai heritage with his German upbringing to bring some of the first fusion to the island. Favorites with islanders include his signature laab tuna (fresh tuna tartar with lime and spices), Phuket-style quiche Lorraine with curry crabmeat, and his mango sticky rice spring roll with black sesame ice cream. Never one to stand still, recently he's branched out with his own restaurant consultancy business and cooking school, Positive Kitchen, and is a regular feature on hit Thai TV show Iron Chef. Slide SUAY: In many ways, chef Tammasak Chootong is the standard-bearer for the current wave of innovative independent cuisine on Phuket. Chef Noi, as he is better known, launched his own restaurant Suay in 2010, combining his Thai heritage with his German upbringing to bring some of the first fusion to the island. Favorites with islanders include his signature laab tuna (fresh tuna tartar with lime and spices), Phuket-style quiche Lorraine with curry crabmeat, and his mango sticky rice spring roll with black sesame ice cream. Never one to stand still, recently he's branched out with his own restaurant consultancy business and cooking school, Positive Kitchen, and is a regular feature on hit Thai TV show Iron Chef. 1 / 4

Bampot

Slide BAMPOT: When a restaurant opens with a name that's Scottish slang for 'hooligan', you know the chef isn't pulling his punches. As it turns out, Jamie Wakeford has been a breath of fresh air for the island, with a venue that impresses with its contemporary European cuisine and creative cocktail menu. While in his native UK, he apprenticed at Heston Blumenthal's famed Fat Duck, which left a noticeable impression on the Scot, who subsequently spent time in London, Baku, and Shanghai. It's often hard to get a table at Bampot, but if you can get a seat sample his Thai-fried cauliflower with truffle mayo, the ribeye carpaccio with wasabi, and Maine lobster mac and cheese, washed down with a Myanmar margarita. Slide BAMPOT: When a restaurant opens with a name that's Scottish slang for 'hooligan', you know the chef isn't pulling his punches. As it turns out, Jamie Wakeford has been a breath of fresh air for the island, with a venue that impresses with its contemporary European cuisine and creative cocktail menu. While in his native UK, he apprenticed at Heston Blumenthal's famed Fat Duck, which left a noticeable impression on the Scot, who subsequently spent time in London, Baku, and Shanghai. It's often hard to get a table at Bampot, but if you can get a seat sample his Thai-fried cauliflower with truffle mayo, the ribeye carpaccio with wasabi, and Maine lobster mac and cheese, washed down with a Myanmar margarita. Slide BAMPOT: When a restaurant opens with a name that's Scottish slang for 'hooligan', you know the chef isn't pulling his punches. As it turns out, Jamie Wakeford has been a breath of fresh air for the island, with a venue that impresses with its contemporary European cuisine and creative cocktail menu. While in his native UK, he apprenticed at Heston Blumenthal's famed Fat Duck, which left a noticeable impression on the Scot, who subsequently spent time in London, Baku, and Shanghai. It's often hard to get a table at Bampot, but if you can get a seat sample his Thai-fried cauliflower with truffle mayo, the ribeye carpaccio with wasabi, and Maine lobster mac and cheese, washed down with a Myanmar margarita. Slide BAMPOT: When a restaurant opens with a name that's Scottish slang for 'hooligan', you know the chef isn't pulling his punches. As it turns out, Jamie Wakeford has been a breath of fresh air for the island, with a venue that impresses with its contemporary European cuisine and creative cocktail menu. While in his native UK, he apprenticed at Heston Blumenthal's famed Fat Duck, which left a noticeable impression on the Scot, who subsequently spent time in London, Baku, and Shanghai. It's often hard to get a table at Bampot, but if you can get a seat sample his Thai-fried cauliflower with truffle mayo, the ribeye carpaccio with wasabi, and Maine lobster mac and cheese, washed down with a Myanmar margarita. 1 / 4

Breeze at Cape Yamu

Slide BREEZE AT CAPE YAMU: Life's literally a breeze at this spectacular open-air restaurant. Built on a hilltop in Phuket's rural northeast, it boasts incredible ocean views, and features a menu of French-Canadian inspired cuisine accompanied by one of the island's best curated wine lists. While it's open during the week, it's most famed for the Long Lazy Sunday brunch, where a set fee sees you share a long table – and lavish meal – with friends and strangers, as course after unbeatable course is served up over a four hour stretch. The incredible vistas and flavor-packed dishes are hard to beat, with an adjoining plunge pool available if you need to cool off. If you're in more of a rush, they also have a centrally-located spin-off at Boat Avenue. Slide BREEZE: Life's literally a breeze at this spectacular open-air restaurant. Built on a hilltop in Phuket's rural northeast, it boasts incredible ocean views, and features a menu of French-Canadian inspired cuisine accompanied by one of the island's best curated wine lists. While it's open during the week, it's most famed for the Long Lazy Sunday brunch, where a set fee sees you share a long table – and lavish meal – with friends and strangers, as course after unbeatable course is served up over a four hour stretch. The incredible vistas and flavor-packed dishes are hard to beat, with an adjoining plunge pool available if you need to cool off. If you're in more of a rush, they also have a centrally-located spin-off at Boat Avenue. Slide BREEZE: Life's literally a breeze at this spectacular open-air restaurant. Built on a hilltop in Phuket's rural northeast, it boasts incredible ocean views, and features a menu of French-Canadian inspired cuisine accompanied by one of the island's best curated wine lists. While it's open during the week, it's most famed for the Long Lazy Sunday brunch, where a set fee sees you share a long table – and lavish meal – with friends and strangers, as course after unbeatable course is served up over a four hour stretch. The incredible vistas and flavor-packed dishes are hard to beat, with an adjoining plunge pool available if you need to cool off. If you're in more of a rush, they also have a centrally-located spin-off at Boat Avenue. Slide BREEZE: Life's literally a breeze at this spectacular open-air restaurant. Built on a hilltop in Phuket's rural northeast, it boasts incredible ocean views, and features a menu of French-Canadian inspired cuisine accompanied by one of the island's best curated wine lists. While it's open during the week, it's most famed for the Long Lazy Sunday brunch, where a set fee sees you share a long table – and lavish meal – with friends and strangers, as course after unbeatable course is served up over a four hour stretch. The incredible vistas and flavor-packed dishes are hard to beat, with an adjoining plunge pool available if you need to cool off. If you're in more of a rush, they also have a centrally-located spin-off at Boat Avenue. 1 / 4

Rustic

Slide RUSTIC: Despite its global fame, Phuket's main beach town of Patong – with a few exceptions – lacks innovative high-end dining options, the space instead being taken up by cheap and cheerful Thai-style restaurants. Into this space steps Rustic, a truly charming eatery at the quieter southern end of the bay run by Croatian Nikola Lesar and his partner – and pastry chef – Chonthicha Surajaroenjai. Five years ago, Lesar won his homeland's version of TV show Masterchef before moving to Thailand, and the menu at Rustic showcases these European and Asian influences, with dishes such as Hawaiian tuna with crispy wontons, tropical fruit red curry, and chocolate panacotta with bananas and caramel ice cream. Slide RUSTIC: Despite its global fame, Phuket's main beach town of Patong – with a few exceptions – lacks innovative high-end dining options, the space instead being taken up by cheap and cheerful Thai-style restaurants. Into this space steps Rustic, a truly charming eatery at the quieter southern end of the bay run by Croatian Nikola Lesar and his partner – and pastry chef – Chonthicha Surajaroenjai. Five years ago, Lesar won his homeland's version of TV show Masterchef before moving to Thailand, and the menu at Rustic showcases these European and Asian influences, with dishes such as Hawaiian tuna with crispy wontons, tropical fruit red curry, and chocolate panacotta with bananas and caramel ice cream. Slide RUSTIC: Despite its global fame, Phuket's main beach town of Patong – with a few exceptions – lacks innovative high-end dining options, the space instead being taken up by cheap and cheerful Thai-style restaurants. Into this space steps Rustic, a truly charming eatery at the quieter southern end of the bay run by Croatian Nikola Lesar and his partner – and pastry chef – Chonthicha Surajaroenjai. Five years ago, Lesar won his homeland's version of TV show Masterchef before moving to Thailand, and the menu at Rustic showcases these European and Asian influences, with dishes such as Hawaiian tuna with crispy wontons, tropical fruit red curry, and chocolate panacotta with bananas and caramel ice cream. Slide RUSTIC: Despite its global fame, Phuket's main beach town of Patong – with a few exceptions – lacks innovative high-end dining options, the space instead being taken up by cheap and cheerful Thai-style restaurants. Into this space steps Rustic, a truly charming eatery at the quieter southern end of the bay run by Croatian Nikola Lesar and his partner – and pastry chef – Chonthicha Surajaroenjai. Five years ago, Lesar won his homeland's version of TV show Masterchef before moving to Thailand, and the menu at Rustic showcases these European and Asian influences, with dishes such as Hawaiian tuna with crispy wontons, tropical fruit red curry, and chocolate panacotta with bananas and caramel ice cream. 1 / 4

Esenzi

Slide VELLAGO RESORT: This boutique resort, with just four rooms that can only be reached by boat from Corong Corong, make for an isolated holiday retreat. Vellago boasts an incredibly luxurious honeymoon cottage overlooking Bacuit Bay and deluxe beachfront rooms perfect for sunset views. A picturesque resort for a couples getaway, the resort offers intimate options such as romantic candlelit dining on a secluded beach and island hopping excursions by private speedboat. Other activities include sailing, kayaking and snorkeling in the crystal clear waters. Slide ESENZI: One of Phuket's hottest openings of recent years isn't even on the island. Instead, Esenzi is to be found a short ways to the north, in neighboring Phang Nga province, at the uber-luxurious Iniala Beach House. In these glamorous surroundings, the kitchen is helmed by American chef Tim Butler, whose Bangkok restaurant Eat Me is regularly rated as one of Asia's best. Given the stunning location, it's no surprise the menu focuses on seafood, such as the king crab salad, Hokkaido scallops, and seared wild sea bream, with both a la carte and tasting menus available. Despite the grand location, Butler has a down-to-earth approach when it comes to ingredients, insisting on them being as sustainable as possible. Slide ESENZI: One of Phuket's hottest openings of recent years isn't even on the island. Instead, Esenzi is to be found a short ways to the north, in neighboring Phang Nga province, at the uber-luxurious Iniala Beach House. In these glamorous surroundings, the kitchen is helmed by American chef Tim Butler, whose Bangkok restaurant Eat Me is regularly rated as one of Asia's best. Given the stunning location, it's no surprise the menu focuses on seafood, such as the king crab salad, Hokkaido scallops, and seared wild sea bream, with both a la carte and tasting menus available. Despite the grand location, Butler has a down-to-earth approach when it comes to ingredients, insisting on them being as sustainable as possible. Slide ESENZI: One of Phuket's hottest openings of recent years isn't even on the island. Instead, Esenzi is to be found a short ways to the north, in neighboring Phang Nga province, at the uber-luxurious Iniala Beach House. In these glamorous surroundings, the kitchen is helmed by American chef Tim Butler, whose Bangkok restaurant Eat Me is regularly rated as one of Asia's best. Given the stunning location, it's no surprise the menu focuses on seafood, such as the king crab salad, Hokkaido scallops, and seared wild sea bream, with both a la carte and tasting menus available. Despite the grand location, Butler has a down-to-earth approach when it comes to ingredients, insisting on them being as sustainable as possible. 1 / 4

Pru

Slide PRU: The farm-to-table dining trend has been making waves globally in the last few years, yet has been slow to catch on in Thailand – until now. Pru stands for 'plant, raise, understand', and also takes its name from the restaurant's vast 240-acre Pru Jumpa farm in northeast Phuket. Headed by young Dutch chef Jimmy Ophorst, who earned his stripes at Gaggan in Bangkok, 75 percent of the ingredients used are sourced on the island, with the rest from within Thailand, including local goat cheese, eggs, pineapples, and basil; wild honey from Petchabun province; and lamb from Khao Yai. The end result is incredible dishes bursting with flavor. In a final touch, all Chinaware is made in Phuket, using traditional techniques. Slide PRU: The farm-to-table dining trend has been making waves globally in the last few years, yet has been slow to catch on in Thailand – until now. Pru stands for 'plant, raise, understand', and also takes its name from the restaurant's vast 240-acre Pru Jumpa farm in northeast Phuket. Headed by young Dutch chef Jimmy Ophorst, who earned his stripes at Gaggan in Bangkok, 75 percent of the ingredients used are sourced on the island, with the rest from within Thailand, including local goat cheese, eggs, pineapples, and basil; wild honey from Petchabun province; and lamb from Khao Yai. The end result is incredible dishes bursting with flavor. In a final touch, all Chinaware is made in Phuket, using traditional techniques. Slide PRU: The farm-to-table dining trend has been making waves globally in the last few years, yet has been slow to catch on in Thailand – until now. Pru stands for 'plant, raise, understand', and also takes its name from the restaurant's vast 240-acre Pru Jumpa farm in northeast Phuket. Headed by young Dutch chef Jimmy Ophorst, who earned his stripes at Gaggan in Bangkok, 75 percent of the ingredients used are sourced on the island, with the rest from within Thailand, including local goat cheese, eggs, pineapples, and basil; wild honey from Petchabun province; and lamb from Khao Yai. The end result is incredible dishes bursting with flavor. In a final touch, all Chinaware is made in Phuket, using traditional techniques. Slide PRU: The farm-to-table dining trend has been making waves globally in the last few years, yet has been slow to catch on in Thailand – until now. Pru stands for 'plant, raise, understand', and also takes its name from the restaurant's vast 240-acre Pru Jumpa farm in northeast Phuket. Headed by young Dutch chef Jimmy Ophorst, who earned his stripes at Gaggan in Bangkok, 75 percent of the ingredients used are sourced on the island, with the rest from within Thailand, including local goat cheese, eggs, pineapples, and basil; wild honey from Petchabun province; and lamb from Khao Yai. The end result is incredible dishes bursting with flavor. In a final touch, all Chinaware is made in Phuket, using traditional techniques. 1 / 4

Surf & Turf

Slide SURF & TURF: In recent years, the historic shophouses of Phuket's once empty Old Town have been given a new lease on life, with the arrival of a wave of new cafes, bars and restaurants. Leading the charge is Surf & Turf, an unpretentious yet fine dining establishment that is already a firm favorite with islanders. With a simple interior design, dominated by a large black and white mural that features many of the items that will end up on your plate, the menu focuses on high quality ingredients, utlilzing locally sourced produce where possible. For example, try the lamb rack with caramelized cabbage and Phuket-made feta cheese, the sweet potato ravioli with yellow curry, or signature tuna steak in a Thai-basil risotto. Slide SURF & TURF: In recent years, the historic shophouses of Phuket's once empty Old Town have been given a new lease on life, with the arrival of a wave of new cafes, bars and restaurants. Leading the charge is Surf & Turf, an unpretentious yet fine dining establishment that is already a firm favorite with islanders. With a simple interior design, dominated by a large black and white mural that features many of the items that will end up on your plate, the menu focuses on high quality ingredients, utlilzing locally sourced produce where possible. For example, try the lamb rack with caramelized cabbage and Phuket-made feta cheese, the sweet potato ravioli with yellow curry, or signature tuna steak in a Thai-basil risotto. Slide SURF & TURF: In recent years, the historic shophouses of Phuket's once empty Old Town have been given a new lease on life, with the arrival of a wave of new cafes, bars and restaurants. Leading the charge is Surf & Turf, an unpretentious yet fine dining establishment that is already a firm favorite with islanders. With a simple interior design, dominated by a large black and white mural that features many of the items that will end up on your plate, the menu focuses on high quality ingredients, utlilzing locally sourced produce where possible. For example, try the lamb rack with caramelized cabbage and Phuket-made feta cheese, the sweet potato ravioli with yellow curry, or signature tuna steak in a Thai-basil risotto. Slide SURF & TURF: In recent years, the historic shophouses of Phuket's once empty Old Town have been given a new lease on life, with the arrival of a wave of new cafes, bars and restaurants. Leading the charge is Surf & Turf, an unpretentious yet fine dining establishment that is already a firm favorite with islanders. With a simple interior design, dominated by a large black and white mural that features many of the items that will end up on your plate, the menu focuses on high quality ingredients, utlilzing locally sourced produce where possible. For example, try the lamb rack with caramelized cabbage and Phuket-made feta cheese, the sweet potato ravioli with yellow curry, or signature tuna steak in a Thai-basil risotto. 1 / 4

ALL PHOTOS: Courtesy of Simon Ostheimer, via Suay, Bamphot, Breeze at Cape Yamu, Rustic, Pru, and Esenzi.