At Avista Grande Phuket Karon, MGallery by Sofitel
Open time: Daily 6.30am-11pm
Resevation: 0 7630 2660www.avista-grande-phuket-karon.com
Offering an eclectic dining experience in a refined setting, PORTOSINO combines Portuguese, Chinese and Thai fare with a dash of western flavour.
Portosino is the flagship restaurant of the relatively new, Sino-Portuguese themed Avista Grande Phuket Karon - MGallery Hotel Collection – just off the beach road between Kata and Karon. Nothing special about that, you might say. But Portosino is special: it happens to offer one of the best gastronomic experiences on Phuket Island.
The food is, quite simply, magnificent. We begin with complimentary prawn crackers and piquant dip, but the meal assumes serious proportions with our selected starters. Mine, a Thai soup (Tom Som Pla Krapong Khao) features succulent seabass fillet atop aromatic Thai herbs, fruit and vegetables – including banana, morning glory, pineapple and coriander, all bathed in a ginger and tamarind broth dispensed at table. Exquisitely fragrant. My partner’s deep fried spring rolls, stuffed with fresh crab meat and accompanied by a sweet chili sauce, are of the highest quality.
The chefs’ recommendation for a main course – Massaman Nuea – proves an inspired choice (braised beef in an orange-hued, curried sauce, replete with peanuts and [unusually] sweet potato. Melt-in-the-mouth meat combined with a luscious and sweet, but not cloying, curry. A creative and mouth-watering variant on a classic Thai dish.
Moo Hong, chosen by my friend, is pronounced sheer perfection; delectable pork belly served with quail eggs and Pak Choi in an appetizingly rich brown sauce. Eschewing the Thai theme, I opt for Salmon Beurre Blanc, three generous salmon cutlets poached in court bouillon with wilted spinach. A cooking method which ensures the delicate flavour of the fish is retained.
And all complemented by a fine bottle of Argentinian cabernet sauvignon from a drinks list that features an exceptional collection of single malt whiskies.
There is much else to admire at Portosino. Twenty five Thai dishes include classic curries – Panaeng Pla (fish curry) and Gaeng Kiew Wan (green curry) – matched with vegetable, rice and noodle offerings. The menu even pays homage to the Peranakan community – influential descendants of the first Chinese settlers to Phuket – with its unique set of tastes.
For European tastes, traditional favourites such as Canard à L’orange (duck breast) or Chicken Spatchcock with Fennel and Wine Risotto and Mustard Crusted Pork Rack with Apple and Calvados Sauce, are available.
Pastas and pizzas complete a menu which had obviously been chosen with a scrupulous attention to global tastes. If you have space for a “finale”, you could gorge on Tiramisu or even an exotic Thai dessert such as Water Chestnuts and Jackfruit in Coconut Milk.
And by the way, Portosino runs a themed buffet most evenings from 6.30pm. If you want more to entice you, the Avista Grande extends a very warm welcome to outside guests, the service is impeccable and the prices are extremely reasonable. Wow! I am already planning my next visit.