The new Michelin culinary normal is helping to raise standards for local restaurants in renowned tourist destinations like Phuket and Phang Nga, updating important criteria for sustainability, food hygiene and safety at high-end eateries and noodle shops alike.
Across Phuket, there are 108 restaurants and various food service outlets with Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration (SHA) certification, and 12 in Phang Nga on the mainland north of the island. This represents the highest number of restaurant establishments (by province) outside of Bangkok, aside from Chiang Mai and Chon Buri, to have the certification that states they meet standards of hygiene and health safety according to the Ministry of Public Health and Ministry of Tourism and Sports to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The fourth edition of the Michelin Guide in Thailand, which covers Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Phang Nga, launched in December 2020, lists 48 eateries in Phuket and 14 in Phang Nga.
This includes 21 Bib Gourmand-rated eateries with five new additions to the list. The additions include casual eatery Salaloy restaurant on Phuket’s Rawai Beach known for its fresh seafood and outdoor waterfront dining that naturally provides for social distancing.
Raya restaurant in Phuket town, also rated Bib Gourmand, is one eatery that reduced the number of dining tables to allow for social distancing. It also asks customers make a booking at least three hours in advance, so it can make appropriate seating arrangements, and requires all diners to check in and check out with the Thai Chana contact tracing application.
Set in a 130-year-old house, among the local specialties to try at Raya according to the Michelin Guide are the Mu Hong (slow-braised pork belly with pepper and garlic), Kaeng Pu Bai Cha Phlu (fresh crab meat in coconut milk), and yellow curry with fish and coconut shoots.
At the forefront of Phuket’s Michelin dining scene, the one-star PRU restaurant at Trisara resort isn’t just the only Michelin-starred eatery in Southern Thailand, it’s also been awarded the Michelin Green Star – a new distinction from Michelin that reflects how an establishment embraces sustainability in its day-to-day operations; such as, recycling, food waste reduction, and local ingredient sourcing.
PRU stands for ‘plant, raise, understand’ and it’s a sustainability ethos the restaurant continuously has in mind. The menu features dishes using seasonal ingredients that are sourced from Phang Nga, Nakhon Phanom, and its own 96-hectare organic farm.
Support is also provided to local farmers and fishermen, advising them on sustainable farming and fishing practices. If a product is not up to the restaurant’s standards, PRU will show them how to grow it better next time, and this also helps them get a better price and earn more money to assist their families.
The Michelin Green Star distinction represents somewhat of a comeback for PRU, which had to close for three months in 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak and is currently open on weekends from Friday to Monday. From among its “seasonal, delicate and beautifully presented” dishes, Michelin recommends in particular the Phuket lobster, the Wagyu beef, and baby corn.
Devasom Khao Lak Beach Resort & Villas is also home to the Michelin Plate-rated Devasom Beach Grill and Bar serving Mediterranean fusion cuisine, and the Michelin Bib Gourmand-rated Takola. The resort features both its Michelin rated eateries prominently in its promotional packages, drawing on their culinary appeal to grow Michelin awareness in Southern Thailand. For example, its Gourmet Staycation Package, which includes a Chef’s Table 5-course dinner for two at a Michelin-rated venue and which is targeted (with the international tourist sector so heavily affected by the COVID-19 situation) towards Thai residents and expats.
Phuket town’s elegant and atmospheric Tu Kab Khao restaurant set in a grand Sino-Portuguese building and Phang Nga’s Nai Mueang authentic Southern Thai restaurant with its charming retro ambience of old tin mining memorabilia and other nostalgic bric-a-brac were both promoted in the 2021 Michelin Guide Thailand from Michelin Plate to Bib Gourmand status.
The restaurants mentioned above are given as examples of social distancing, sustainability or safety and food hygiene best practice, and their mention is not meant as promotional or commercial endorsements.