PRU : Plant. Raise. Understand.
Updated: Apr 29, 2019
"Dutch chef Jimmy Ophorst arrived in Phuket six years ago with a team of international chefs working on a consulting project with the Trisara Hotel and has never looked back since. Now chef of Phuket’s first-ever Michelin Star restaurant, Chef Jimmy is now officially recognised as a leading voice for Thailand’s farm-to-table movement" - Michelin Guide Online
The Full Book
Continuing from the last post on PRU Jampa Farm, welcome to one-Michelin-starred
PRU, it stands for Plant. Raise. Understand. My initial reaction when I found about this unlikely sparkling gem in what seemed like sleepy Phuket was whether they were real about their mission and beliefs. "We are committed to shortening the distance from farm to table in our kitchen and PRU’s dining room. We also work alongside Phuket’s thriving culinary community, collectively pursuing sustainable and innovative approaches to food.
To date, we source our ingredients throughout Thailand, with the majority coming from Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi. We will continue to develop Pru Jampa farm’s capacity to realise a day when our farm will fully supply our kitchen."
PRU is really serious about what they stand for, presenting their provenance map before their menu that traced the border lines of Thailand. This means minimizing global carbon footprint, being self-sustainable in the long run and creating a can-do culture of the much bigger goal of saving the planet. The latter may sound a tad cheesy to some, but if not now then when, and if not us, then who.
And it was this alone that warranted a visit - catching the under currents of the locavore movement that's going to spread like peanut butter all over that jelly sandwich.
Textures of Tomato
Gorgeous brittle slice of tomato that's almost translucent, that gave me a peek to what was underneath. Marinated cherry tomatoes mixed in with thick organic yoghurt, and cooling tomato granita and coriander crumble. Farm delicious.
Like a rosti, the savory bite-size tart is topped with young bean salad and passionfruit cream, then topped with delightful bok choy flowers and salty dried mackerel powder for some umami.
How chi-chi. Different species of local mushrooms were gathered to create the light-as-air mousse. For the base, brioche crumble and orange gel, topped with a slice of mushroom au naturel and fine spiring onion powder that gave off green-for-life vibrancy.
Black Crab & Phuket Coffee
The black crabs are caught and delivered from Phang Nga (literally means pagan) every morning to the restaurant. The resort's gardener catches the eight-legged crustaceans in the mangroves, which are also referred to as mud crabs. They are a resilient breed and aren't really black; they do turn red when cooked. The thick orangey crab sauce infused with sour leaves invaded the dry plate. Hidden under the "white blanket" are pickled vegetables. The salad dish was dusted with locally roasted coffee beans harvested just 20 minutes away from the restaurant.
Burned Leek & House-Cured Kurobuta Ham
Interestingly enough, what stood out for me was the foraged mushrooms from Phang Nga on this plate that added the moreish bite to the relative of the onion, burned leek that were wrapped in house-cured ham. Check out the brown-like-chocolate dots which are referred to as Thailand's matsutake mushrooms, and the paper-thin mushroom "rosette". Leek powder was sprinkled over the dish.
Pickled Duck Egg & Phuket Abalone
The creamy duck egg from PRU Jampa Farm was pickled southern Thai style, with eggplants underneath it. Surrounding the yolky island were small thumb-sized pickled abalone from the southeast. The Phuket Abalone Farm cultivates haliotis diversicolor breed of abalone that originates from Okinawa, Japan. Complete the mouthful with smoked abalone sabayon, and pick on straw-like rainy season mushrooms from eastern Thailand.
Carrot Cooked In The Soil It Came From
One has only done PRU proper respect when they've had this dish, "which represents the entire philosophy of PRU".
"When thinking about the carrot and its pedestrian standing in the vegetable world, we decided to pay tribute to its humble roots. We shed the soft exterior skin and made the carrot’s core the pièce de résistance. We rescued it from the fringes and made it one of the main touchstones on our tasting menu. We used every last bit and let nothing go to waste. In other words – we took it upon ourselves to cook the perfect carrot!
Similar to our ancestors thousands of years ago, we dug a pit in the earth and started a fire. Once the flames receded and the smoke cleared, we sliced the outer layer of the carrot, placed it gracefully on the hot charcoal and covered the pit with soil.
During 6 to 8 hours of patient anticipation, the carrot cooks through perfectly while imbuing an intense smoky aroma similar to that of bacon.
We create a hollandaise using fermented carrot juice from the leftover outer layer. Cured organic egg yolk from our farm’s eggs complete this refreshing and tangy sauce.
This is PRU’s contribution to the legacy of the humble carrot – elegant, rustic and pure."
Surat Thani River Prawn with XO Sauce
That's one big Tapi River prawn of umami overload (not that I would ever complain of too much) that's been grilled a la minute, paired with XO sauce.
Elaborated chef Ophorst to Michelin Guide Online, "We want to feature an XO sauce made with Surin sun-dried seafood... squids, prawns and salted fish."
On the side are baby broccoli stems dressed in orange prawn head-cream domes which surged the umami levels of this dish.
Phuket Potato & Sea Grapes
Local potatoes which are in season three months in a year were cooked in chicken broth, atop sea grapes salad. Some refer to the latter as rather salty seaweed caviar that was also fished from local waters.
Aged Duck & Shiitake
The organic aged duck meat was perfectly cooked to a pink and so easy to cut into. Chef Ophorst brined the meat in salt and milk for one day, then marinated it in honey before dry-aging it for five days. This ensures a more tender cut and an intensified savoriness, especially observed after cooking it over an open wood fire. The ducks are bred at the foot of Phetchabun mountains.
Dry-aging duck may not be that different from applying the same technique on beef. The bird loses 30% moisture on average after going through the process.
Purple cabbage helped lift the flavors, and different textures of mushrooms enhanced earthiness to the plate.
What a treat. I love it when the restaurant springs surprises on us - the dessert kind. I do tend to gravitate towards chilled desserts to cool off and wind down after an extended hot meal.
Presented here was textural green apple manifested in granita, compote and biscuit, with a rounded scoop of all-spice ice-cream. In a saucepan. *Cuteness!*
Isaan Almonds & Ginger Beer
This dessert was rather an unlikely combination of Isaan mountain almond pudding, topped with green bean granita, woodsorrel fruit, and a side of mild ginger beer sherbet, Are those pink chains of love flowers? They don't have a distinct taste to it but they're effortlessly pretty. It wasn't my most favorite thing to eat here but it certainly was an adventure for my tongue and brain.
When you thought the meal was finally over, it wasn't. YASSSSSSS.
L - R : toffee madeleine, local jackfruit & lemon tartlet, caramelized banana rounds, and shards of 85% dark chocolate from Chanthaburi province.
The dining experience was very much an upscale one fitted with full tablecloth, change of plates and cutlery at every course, attentive servers describing each and every dish in a timely fashion, and a menu, albeit a little too pricey based on some online reviews, is driven by chef de cuisine Jim Ophorst (ex-Gaggan alumnus) towards 100% of what the country can offer. All that the dinner guest has to minimally do to partake in this locavore-slash-sustainability movement is sit down, relax and enjoy the sumptuous spread, because everyone else in the PRU eco-system has done all the work for us. The money we spend goes back to fuel this same eco-system, and hopefully for a long time to come. Already Phuket is the largest island, and Thailand is more than abundant with a head-turning variety of fruits, seafood, rice and the list goes on and on, grown by 13 million farmers! This should not come as a surprise as the fertile country is bigger than densely-packed Japan, and Germany.
Dining here made me feel like I could make a difference in the international workings of the f&b scene because I'm part of the movement to "go local, or go home". Building a restaurant that's sustainable and not fully dependent on overseas resources are not just a dream, but a growing reality around the world as our eyes are waking up to the realities of global warming that's caused so many disruptions in the way we live, and absurd pollution as more people populate this earth. According to the UN, the world’s population is estimated to increase by 29% to 9.8 billion in 2050. Inevitably fast-increasing population numbers will also mean chalking up massive food wastage, careless consumption and disposal of things we never needed in the first place.
BOOK NOW : +66 (0)76 310 100 / email@example.com
60/1 Moo 6, Srisoonthorn Road, Cherngtalay, Thalang, Phuket 83110, Thailand
Open Tuesday - Saturday for dinner only
Cuisine : Modern Western fare using 100% Thai produce and ingredients
Seating capacity : 16