Located near the beach at Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket
Open time: Daily from 6.30-11pm
Resevation: Tel: 0 7639 1123-5www.capepanwa.com
Panwa House is a beachside fine dining establishment that serves Thai fare within a beautiful Sino-Portuguese mansion.
Convenient parking in the car park adjacent to the resort lobby, then the option of an electric cart ride (if you ask politely) or down a few flights of stairs to the funicular railway ride down the steep hill to the resort’s beachside and a stroll along the waterfront and you’re at Panwa House.
We found an elegant two-storey Sino Portuguese building nestled amongst the palm trees only a few metres from the resort’s seemingly private beach. What a real hidden gem. The night was balmy so we decided to dine alfresco.
We kicked off the evening with a couple of signature cocktails, a Cape Panwa Beach consisting of Jim Beam and Triple Sec, shaken with pineapple juice, lemon juice and Grenadine – a wonderfully tangy concoction. The other cocktail (whose name eludes me) was with Smirnoff Vodka, Triple Sec, Blue Caracao, Grenadine, lemon juice and pineapple – and was equally scrumptious.
The menu is authentic Thai and we started with, and shared, Crab Meat Spring Rolls, Fried Shrimp in Plumb Sauce and Thai Fish Cakes with red curry, pickled carrot, cauliflower and a chili garlic dip.
We shared our main course too: Rock Lobster with sweet and sour sauce, Crispy Grilled Red Snapper Fillet with lemon grass, galangal (which belongs to the ginger root family) and chili sauce. We also had a Duck Curry and Jasmine Rice. Both the Thai menu and the drinks list, which includes non-alcoholic cocktails, are extensive and well balanced.
For dessert we had Mango And Sticky Rice an old Thai favourite with some coconut ice cream along with a couple of coffees.
Our surroundings were in keeping with the colonial aspect of the location; candles on the table, cast iron furniture, open-air tropical dining… it could have been a scene from the Raj or a Rudyard Kipling book, with the tropical variety trees lining the beach, lamp posts along the foreshore walkway that could have been gas (but weren’t), lights from ships at anchor and the slap of waves a few metres away.
Inside and upstairs there were comfortable lounges and with balconies with an even better view of Ao Makham Bay and uninterrupted views towards the resort island of Koh Maithon, some 15 kilometres (or around nine nautical miles) away.
The Panwa House team was efficient and courteous and, as the restaurant has relatively few tables, the dishes came out at swiftly but with a comfortable gap between courses
For our return to reception we decided on taking the beach path to walk off dinner a little, but mainly to try out the unique railway car ride to the top.