[TRAVELOGUE] PHUKET • THE BLACK GINGER REVIEW

Making my reservation for The Black Ginger at The Slate Hotel, before even the flight to Phuket; there’s determination! Black Ginger, certified by Michelin Guide 2021 and 2022, has been on my must-go list the first time our paths crossed on social media some time back. Now with Covid out of the way, there was no stopping me. Not even the 1-hour bike ride from south of the island to the north!

The experience at Black Ginger is breathtaking the moment you step into the property. A private buggy awaits to transfer you to the restaurant deep within the resort. The 2.5 minute ride weaved through the beautifully landscaped garden. We arrived at a lagoon, where a wooden raft awaits to take us across the waters to the restaurant. The raft is “driven” manually by rope. The “boatman” takes us across lagoon, one swift pull after another. The mesmerizing ride ended too soon…

On to the food… we decided on the Degustation menu which included 3 appetizers, 4 mains, 3 desserts, coffee & tea to finish.

[A trio of complimentary Amuse Bouche to start…]

Who wouldn’t like a deep fried meaty wanton in sweet tomatoey sauce. It’s not mind blowing but it’s safe, and familiar. A delicious little spoonful of angled beans salad. Crunchy and garlicky flavors in a light brown sauce. Finally, good old fresh pineapple cube eaten with a crunchy chili sugar dip. Palate cleansing and appetite stirring for what’s to come!

[Appetizers]

Bua Thod is Fried Prawn with Cha Plu Leaf in a turmeric batter. While the prawn wasn’t as crispy as I’d have liked it, the cha plu leaf was otherwise. Unlike Betel leaf, which it is commonly mistaken for, cha plu isn’t bitter and has a much milder taste. The leaf is soft and fragrant when eaten, so this crispy tempura version was quite a treat, and made me forget the downfall of the prawn!

Poh Piah Sod …Followed the Bua Thod with this fresh Spring Roll, packed full and plump with vegetables from their own gardens. Although it wasn’t very different from the spring rolls we have back home, I must give credit to the sweet and fresh vegetable filling and the softness of the rice crepe wrapper.

I don’t often eat the classic Yang Mamuang Goong Sieb (Green Mango Salad) because of how spicy most places serve it; and any requests for a non or mild version were always met with much disapproval! Black Ginger gamely prepped one to our request and it was incredibly delicious! Generous portion of raw mango strips, firm, juicy and just slightly tart; the classic umami fish sauce dressing tinged with just the right amount of sugar and zesty lime juice to balance out the plump salty dried shrimps, garlicky chives, sweet spicy onions and red peppers. And a bunch of roasted cashews for a nutty crunch! I love how the different flavors pop in the mouth without the corruption of chili!

[Mains]

Goong Makham …The Tamarind Prawns were huge. And fresh. Warmly sweet with a tangy assam tamarind base; the lovely sauce clings to the butterflied prawns, and we were scraping every last drop on the plate after!

Gaeng Pou Bai Cha Plu … One of Phuket’s most popular dish, with foreigners as well as locals. Crab meat curry with Cha-plu and Rice noodles is often robustly spicy and creamy. Our toned down version allowed the sweet crab meat to shine. They sat fat and meaty in the silky yellow curry, cha-plu leaves swimming amongst them. The curry was creamy yet not heavy; with a soft aromatic coconut flavor which does not overwhelm the palate. Pour some of that magic curry over thin rice noodles and pile on some juicy delicate crabmeat and cha-plu… sweet, creamy and a little earthiness from the leaves; the flavors and textures were perfectly executed!

Moo Hong… Found in any respectable Phuket restaurant, you can’t do one meal without this iconic local dish. Chunky Pork belly stewed in a sweet savory soy sauce liquid. Different versions of the same dish is available all over Asia, but Phuket prides itself in producing one of the bests! The pork was expertly cooked. Super tender but not falling apart limp. A good dose of cinnamon and star anise in the braise liquid allow the pork to take in the aromatic flavors. The lightly browned belly meat was tender and moist and toothsome. All sights, aftertastes and scents of excess oil were eliminated. This went down with some jasmine rice like a dream!

Massaman Nuer… The one dish which paled against the rest was the Braised Beef in Thick Spiced Peanut Curry. While the peanut curry was incredibly yummy, the beef was a tad dry. So it needed a lot of the curry to moisten it up and camouflage the dryness. Well thankfully, there was a lot of the rich nutty gravy, which was beautifully cooked with sweet onions and soft potato cubes. With some soft gelatinous beef shank or brisket, this could have been quite phenomenal!

[Desserts]

Khao Niew Mamuang … Mango Glutinous Rice stands as one of the most iconic Thai desserts! I haven’t met anyone who didn’t like it! Tonight’s mangoes were not excessively sweet. The sticky glutinous rice was cooked nicely in pandan juice and smelled lovely with the coconut cream infusion. The overall experience was rather ordinary. I ended up eating it with some of the coconut ice cream on the platter and the entire experience was transformed from ordinary to yummy!

I-Tim Kati… Homemade Thai Fresh Coconut Ice Cream was refreshing and light, not too rich and just sweet enough. It went sweetly with all the other desserts, and served the platter well!

Luk Chup Gub Foi Thong … Fruit shaped Mung beans are possibly the most featured sweet as far as Thai Desserts are concerned. It wins by its vibrant colors, cutest, prettiest fruit impressions. However, I have never been a big fan due to the intense sweetness, and this wasn’t different. The ‘Golden Threads’ part of the dessert though, was both something else. These “threads” are made with egg yolk. It is a tedious job, making them so thin, chewy and sweet at the same time. The fluffy threads, together with the soft mung beans, were also delicious with the coconut ice cream!

To cap off the meal, we were offered coffee or tea, both of which were very welcomed. An espresso to refrain from food coma after the 3-hour meal; and some mint tea for digestion!

We enjoyed every aspect of Black Ginger, the fine culinary of Thai classic dishes weren’t compromised even after tweaking it to my less spicy preference. Chef Piak had executed every detail without trading off the important elements of the cuisine.

The remarkable service was consistent from start to finish. Despite scootering up the posh private estate of the 5-star resort on my trusty motorbike like the hippie Phuketian that I morph into when I’m here; we had receive the same warm smiles, same top notch service and same immaculate courtesy, as everyone else! The same reasons we return to this beautiful island all the time.

The lavish setup, and ethereal experience were simply mind blowing. It was like walking onto the set of Jewel of the Nile (without the troubles!). The garden flame torches subtly lit the tranquil space; the gentleness of the lagoon; the solid raft that we traveled on alongside the sounds of nature. And despite the resplendent atmosphere, the quiet charm of it all was simply spectacular.

I thought I might save this restaurant just for special occasions but now I’m not sure if I can stay away…!

BLACK GINGER at THE SLATE @ Nai Yang Beach 116 Moo 1, Sakhu, Thalang. Phuket 83110, Thailand Phone: +6676 327006

Disclaimer – This is not a sponsored post!

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