By Manta Klangboonkrong
The Sunday Nation
A NEWLY-OPENED restaurant is bringing nature as close as possible to diners in Phuket.
Launched just a few weeks ago, PRU at Trisara is striving to elevate the “farm-to-table” movement in Thailand.
The concept for the resort town’s first full-scale “farm-to-table” restaurant stemmed from the team’s close relationship with local suppliers and farmers. They also take advantage of opportunities to forage and discover new ingredients at “Pru Jumpa”, an expansive piece of land at the resort which is dotted with beautiful lakes and is home to a variety of indigenous plants, local herbs, organic vegetable gardens and free range chickens.
Chef Jim Ophorst spends his day leisurely foraging in the woods, looking for new flavours from local plants.
The restaurant’s name also constitutes the team’s philosophy of “Plant, Raise & Understand”.
At the helm of the kitchen is Dutch chef, Jim Ophorst, Thailand’s contestant for the S. Pellegrino Young Chef 2016 title. At 27, Ophorst started his career at Trisara in 2014 after gaining experience at the award-winning Gaggan in Bangkok.
Chef Jim Ophorst
“I am truly humbled by the opportunities to work closely with local fishermen, farmers and merchants, and find it inspiring to discover new distinct ingredients every day. PRU is meant to be a tribute to the gifts of this wonderful region,” says Ophorst, who is known for his imaginative cooking style and innovative techniques.
“I grew up with a greenhouse at home where, since I was a child, I would go out and pick some fresh tomatoes and herbs and bring them back to the kitchen,” he says. “It’s great to know where your food comes from, and it’s even better to grow the food you’ll be eating. This is a concept that is very close to my heart.”
PRU works closely with local fishermen to ensure freshness of ingredients and sustainability .
The highlights of the menu are dishes using mostly ingredients sourced from the restaurant’s two-rai farm, including organic eggs from its free range chickens, mushrooms from a dedicated mushroom hut, hollandaise from fresh pumpkins and water lily roots from one of the many watering holes.
Today’s hens egg with mushroom
On the menu are dishes such as yellow tail hamachi tartare from the Andaman Sea, served with rosella powder and sea grapes, sous vide hen’s eggs served with mushrooms and cucumber in three different textures and Chiang Mai avocado and caviar from Hua Hin.
The dishes look fancy but a taste reveals the simplicity and honesty of the ingredients and the fresh character of the natural flavours that are not compromised or tampered with by the chef.
Different textures of cucumber with Chiang Mai avocado, butter milk sorbet and Hua Hin caviar
When he’s not tending to the farm or manning the kitchen, the chef wanders around Phuket “foraging” for new ingredients. Armed with a pair of scissors and plastic bags, he collects parts of plants, such as pine needles and barks of local perennial trees, that might create new flavors or enhance whatever he has in the fridge.
Different cuts of Pak Chong baby lamb, deep fried sun choke, raw celery, lamb jus, onion 3 ways and local goat cheese
In addition to planting various vegetables, herbs and fruits and raising their own animals, the team strives to truly understand their environment and share their knowledge with others. Their hands-on approach doesn’t stop there. They also churn their own butter and create plates from driftwood and recycled food waste.
The restaurant has also created a Local Resources Index to track its efforts in source ingredients locally and inspire other restaurants to follow suit.
“When people think about Thailand’s most exciting dining destinations, Bangkok naturally comes to mind. With PRU, I am convinced we have an opportunity to also give Phuket a spot on the map of innovative culinary destinations,” says Quentin Fougeroux, director of food and beverage at Trisara.
PRU is at Trisara Phuket. It is open daily for dinner.
Call (076) 310 100 or visit www.PRURestaurant.com.