Monday, May 20, 2024

The PRUFF is in the pudding

We had a wonderful time at Phuket’s incredible one star Michelin restaurant, PRU, although we almost didn’t make it. It required booking in advance with a credit card. For some reason, their firewall prevented my credit card from going through and I tried more than one repeatedly. I corresponded quite a few times with the folks and finally I realized it just wasn't happening. I emailed them that I was sorrowfully releasing my reservation for the chef’s counter, which is where you always want to be. And guess what? They allowed us to come without the security of a credit card. That was pretty big, because there are only 8 (10?) seats at the counter overlooking the chefs, along with just a handful of tables. 
PRU opened in 2016 with Dutch chef Jimmy Ophorst at the helm. The name stands for Plant, Raise, Understand. It’s a philosophy that goes far beyond the usual farm to table viewpoint. Everything he uses in the kitchen is grown or produced in Thailand. And PRU has a four acre farm which provides much of the produce. Chef Ophorst is well known for his innovative approach to everything from the vegetables to the garnishes.  
We arrived at a striking modern building and were greeted BY NAME by a lovely young woman. She asked if we wanted a picture in front of the restaurant, which brings up a topic I’ll post about another time - of people who spend their time in fabulous places making sure they get a picture of THEMSELVES while neglecting to pay attention to the place they came to in first place! Anyhoo, she took the required picture, and then I took the pictures I wanted of the people-less stylish entrance.


We were shown into a lovely lounge to start our “experience”.

Oh, a funny thing happened. As we entered the lounge, a woman looked at my husband and said, ”Steve!” And Steve said, “Emma!” She was a former coworker, whom he hadn’t seen in years! She just happened to be celebrating a big birthday the very same night that we were there. She actually lives in Singapore and had come to Phuket for a few days. It was really nice to chat with them, but soon they were taken upstairs to the dining room. since they had arrived ahead of us.
We were invited to begin our experience with a drink and some interesting little tastes. The cauliflower was the most identifiable, but they were all good. 
Eggplant and Ginger Flower
Cauliflower and Kaffir Lime
Kimchi and Cashew Nut:

Soon we were led upstairs and shown to our seats at the kitchen bar overlooking all the action and the chefs. And guess what? Emma and her husband were seated right next to us, which was fun.
Then it started! - A wonderful dance of chefs, sous chefs, servers and hosts all with the aim of putting perfect bites of food on perfect plates in front of us. The chef or his emissary would explain each plate as they were presented to us.

The first dish was a doozy. They called it “The King of Fruits.” It was a durian fruit puree that had been fashioned into a kind of bowl that actually resembled a piece of vintage glass. Look!

Anyway, I said it was a doozy because durian is known as the smelliest fruit on the planet. We could have sampled it in various places on our trip, but we didn’t. One reason was that in one of our Thai hotels, there was a sign in the room that said durian was forbidden inside our room OR anywhere on the hotel grounds. Why? Because they didn’t want that pervasive horrid smell penetrating their beautiful restful hotel. Somehow, Chef Ophorst had ridded the durian of all of its maleficent qualities. It actually didn’t have a very strong taste – good or bad, but I was relieved that I didn’t faint from the fumes.
The rest of the meal proceeded with great precision, but also with great enthusiasm on the part of the chef and the staff as they described each dish. It’s funny, the details are a little foggy now, but at the time I was fully engaged in each and every dish as it came out. The duck was my favorite. As tender as any I’ve ever had and pink, pink, pink, just like I like it. 

But as I said, there was such a wealth of flavors, textures and sensations that once we were out of the rarefied atmosphere of PRU, it’s difficult to remember the specifics. My overwhelming memory is one of being superbly taken care of. I almost felt that if we had had any kind of offbeat request – could we have a blanket around our shoulders? (although the temperature was PERFECT) or could we have a footstool for our tootsies, they would have run all over themselves to fulfill our request.

After the last dish, we were invited back to the lounge downstairs to conclude our PRU experience. We were offered coffee, tea, after dinner libations and little treats and chocolates.

Probably for the first time ever, I could not even attempt to try the chocolates, I was so satiated with all the wonderful tastes of the night. In other words, I was FULL.

Note the out of focus photo. 

We were escorted down the stairs to wait for our GRAB (Asia Uber) car. What an amazing place! Next time, I’ll take copious notes of each bite. Oh, and we didn't have to do the dishes. Our credit card worked!
We were given a printed menu as we left:

The King of the Fruits 
Coconut and Black Peanut
Black Crab and Fermented Tea
Fennel and Vanilla
Coral Grouper and Turmeric
Squid and Blue Cheese
Aged Duck and Egg Fruit
Pink Guava and Celebes Pepper
Banana and Umeboshi
Watermelon and Rose
Pineapple Financier
Eggfruit Miso Clafoutis
Choux and Cashew Nut

More beautiful dishes:




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