Phuket is a common weekend jaunt for people living in Singapore given it consists of the standard ‘fly-through’ Changi airport & a short 90 minute hop. Before you know it, the office & high rise towers of Singapore are behind you & you’re sipping beers on an idyllic island on the West coast of Thailand on a Friday night. This was exactly what some good friends & I did this past weekend. It was only my second time in Phuket & given the first time was a good 14 years ago I am certainly a newby when it comes to knowing the island.
We were staying in The Cape Sienna Hotel on Kamala Beach [which I would really recommend] & what became apparent is that from this base you can get a pretty diverse mix of experiences. In no more than 30 minutes in a tuk-tuk you can be rolling down the grimy but electric Bangla Road in Patong, to the Ibiza style beach clubs in Laguna & as we discovered some great restaurants .
I’ll save you the reviews of Patong which fall under a whole different category of blog & will instead write about the great restaurant we found, Joe’s Downstairs. It is on Prabaramee Road & its location is everything as it sits right on the rocks of Patong Beach. Now, we never met Joe & to be honest I’m not sure there even is a Joe, but if there is he [or she] has done an unbelievable job in turning his/her downstairs in to a beautiful restaurant spot that overlooks Kalim Bay. You can sit just a few feet from the rocks & the ocean crashing in makes pretty good company.
The chef, Aaron Hooper, heads up the kitchen & has a great reputation in Thailand winning chef of the year & having trained all over the world. The food is international, not remotely fussy but was consistently packed with flavour & of a really high standard. They have an interesting Tapas menu & we chose to order the whole lot for us to start with. The highlights were the Grilled Wagyu Beef ‘Yakitori’ that came with Sesame Eggplant. Top draw, perfectly pink pieces of beef. We also loved the crispy skin, Peking duck rolls that came with a hit of tamarind dressing & were gone in a flash. The beef ragu tortillas were also unbelievable. Rich, tangy, meaty sauce sitting in a crisp tortilla & topped with sour cream. The only dish that I wouldn’t recommend were the ‘famous’ Joe’s chicken wings which were perfectly ok but were just, well, chicken wings. Nothing memorable.
Following the sharing starters, we got back to our selfish selves & went for our own mains. I chose the Australian Kurobuta pork tenderloin that came with wild rice & truffled white asparagus & was exactly what you would hope for. Juicy, pink & tasty. A few of the boys went for the black crusted, yellow fin tuna that got good reports although it was a bit heavy on the pepper corns.
The staff, like anywhere in Thailand, were friendly, attentive & had our wine glasses filled at every moment. I think we may have pushed their patience when they started stacking chairs as we continued to enjoy the excellent wine list past midnight.
I would really recommend Joe’s Downstairs. Stunning location, fairly priced, damn tasty food & service that couldn’t be knocked.