Friday, July 25, 2014

Black Ginger at the Indigo Pearl Phuket Resort

A vacation with my best friend is not complete without at least one dress up meal.  Setting aside the beach flip flops for the night, we cleaned up and made ourselves presentable for our first and last nights' meals at the resort.

Black Ginger is truly an experience from the moment you enter the restaurants property in the Indigo Pearl Phuket resort.  The blue lit decor against the dark entrance guides you to a wooden porch.  From there, you wait for a floating platform to pull you across a moat.  (Seriously, it's such a cool entrance - it makes a statement for a memorable night ahead.)

You are greeted by the hostess who takes you to the outdoor bar if you wish to start your night there.  Then you are seated outside, in private rooms, or in the main restaurant inside.  I highly recommend the main restaurant because of the impressive decor.  The dark black wood contrasts the blue lights and industrial glass art pieces around and up along the ceiling.  It's modern, rustic, and industrial; and it sets the mood for a fun, yet refined dinner experience.

The menu is quite extensive.  Our choices were narrowed down because of allergies and our focus on Southern Thai cuisine.  My best friend and I have both frequented Bangkok and Chiang Mai.  So we are pretty familiar with the staple dishes and Northern specialties.  This was our chance to try what Phuket is known for.

Everything we ordered was so delicious.  It had that mouth watering blend of spicy, sour, sweet, salty, and bitter.  This Thai combination of flavors makes the food come alive.  The southern dishes highlighted more of the sour which really opens up your appetite for more food.  The best dish of our first and last meal was a salad using a local flower.  We were so fascinated with the flower that our server, who was so sweet and gracious to us, brought out the whole flower to show and explain what we were eating.  In our second and last meal, she brought out the chef to our table.  She's a local young-looking older lady who has been working at the resort's property for over 20 years outlasting the changes of ownership and the horrible tsumani in 2004.

The service and hospitality from these ladies and, of course, the remarkable dishes makes the Black Ginger a must dine experience if you come to the resort.  It's truly unforgettabe from the moment you step foot onto that floating platform.

(I mistakenly deleted my food photos on the flight back from Phuket.  It was a painful realization.  The photos below are courtesy of my best friend who has a brilliant artistic eye.)

Entrance into the restaurant property

Waiting for our floating platform

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Endless eating and relaxing on Nai Yang Beach in Phuket

Aside from the anticipation of a luxury resort, the beach was one of the main reasons why we chose Phuket.  Nai Yang beach is one of many beaches around Phuket.  While it is next to the airport (where you can see planes take off all day), you are tucked away from pollution and commercialism.  The lush trees and forests give the beach privacy.  There are local vendors, restaurants, and massage parlors but they all co-exist for locals and tourists alike.  With young children and couples strolling around, the beach has a family friendly atmosphere.

The Indigo Pearl Phuket resort has its own space along the beach with loungers and a cafe to take in the ocean breeze.  If you want to get out of the resort prices, the restaurants and bars right along the beach have some incredibly cheap prices for great Thai food and cold beers.  I thought fish and chips by the pool was the way to go, but now Thai food on the sandy beach is my go to.

Pineapple fried rice, huge stuffed squid, pad thai, grilled fish, and salads all with that refreshing tastes of sweet, sour, salty, spicy, and bitter.  We were eating so much, but Thai cuisine doesn't make you feel guilty - so it's truly the perfect beach food.

Laying out at the beach

Family friendly

Monday, July 21, 2014

Vacation time in Thailand at the Indigo Pearl Phuket

It's time for another beach getaway!  This time I was in the mood for South East Asia, staying away from crowds, and a guarantee of excellent food.  Destination: Thailand!

There are countless beach resorts all around the country.  After days and weeks of research, my best friend and I finally decided on Phuket.  It has an international airport and our desired resort is just mere minutes away.  Convenient, private, and luxurious - that is what makes for a relaxing vacation.

Indigo Pearl Phuket  is a private resort along the Nai Yang beach in Phuket.  While it is just 5-10 minutes away from the airport, you are tucked away from pollution, crowds, and commercialism.  The resort is set in an industrial chic theme amidst the lush greenery of nature.  The architecture and decoration pays tribute to Phuket's history of tin mining and rubber plantation.

All rooms in the resort are suites.  The base room, the Premium Pearl Bed Suite which we stayed in, is so spacious - especially if you enjoy bathroom space.  The room is modern and warm which feels great coming back to the room after a day under the sun.  And it's even better waking up to the lush views of the resort's greenery.

In the mornings you are treated to the daily breakfast buffet.  It consists of the usual Western selections of eggs, bacon, etc., Chinese dim sum, fruits, breads and pastries, cold cuts, and so on.  There is also a station for freshly made pancakes, waffles, and donuts.  The best part of the morning buffet was the Thai dishes that changed every day.  Curries, braised pork, chicken wings, and freshly made noodles.  That was the most memorable part of every morning.

We stayed in Phuket for 4 nights, so we made the most of the resort by checking out each of the pools and bars.  There are 3 pools around the property.  A main pool for all ages, a quieter and smaller pool for a retreat, and the best pool - with a pool bar and happy hour.  It was hilarious how every afternoon at 4pm sharp, all the habitants of the pool lounges jumped in the water for an afternoon beverage.  Also, you are treated to ice cold waters, fruit sticks, and cold towels to cool down throughout the day.  It soo nice to be pampered.

In the next posts, I'll be sharing photos and stories from the beach and the beach food, as well as our most excellent eating at the resort's gorgeous Thai restaurant.

Premium Pearl Bed Suite

Balcony 1 of 2

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Man Wah - A Classic Hong Kong Experience

My first memories of Hong Kong dates back to the late 90s.  And from then on, the city became my respite from trips to Manila.  The city was a breathe of fresh air, and the expat community around Central reminded me of home (which was the San Francisco Bay Area at the time).  I only remember one or two meals that really stood out and that I still carry with me today.

Man Wah is a Hong Kong tradition that dates decades back.  I first dined here as a young girl over the Christmas season.  I can recall the classy fine dining setting and the proper attire of all the diners.  Growing up, I really valued all those meals my parents took our family to when we would have to dress up and indulge in course by course meals and five star service.  It was so special (and that feeling still holds true today).  And then, to make the holiday dinner even more memorable, a line of school girls came in, lined up around the restaurant, and sang traditional songs to the diners.  Wow!  As a girl who grew up endlessly replaying the Sound of Music and Almost Angels, this made me fall in love with the restaurant.

Flash forward 15+ years, and I'm still finding myself dining at Man Wah.  The restaurant remains located on the 25th floor of the Mandarin Oriental - a hotel my grandfather loved, who passed on the love to my mom, who in turn passed on that love to me.  The panoramic views of the city are reason alone to dine here.  Another reason, it's legitimately Michelin starred - and by legitimate, I mean there are other restaurants in the city who earned it by hype, but Man Wah actually earned it and continues to earn it.

And the food!  You know that feeling you sometimes get after eating Chinese food?  Oily, heavy, lethargic, etc.  There's absolutely none of that here.  So much so, we ate there three times over the course of our three day trip!  And trust me we take each meal in Hong Kong seriously since we're only there for a limited time.  Yes, Man Wah is that good.  It's just as delicious as it was in the 90s, maybe even more so.  The best part of it all, it's luxurious while being completely unpretentious.

Today, Man Wah has kept up with the high expectations of food lovers.  It's serving traditional cuisine with worldly influences and unforgettable plating.  I can't tell you which to choose, dinner or dim sum, because both are amazing.  When you have dinner here, you must get the Iberian pork.  Succulent, fried, savoury, with a hint of sweetness.  I can eat this for days.  And the dim sum was almost too beautiful to eat, but I'm glad I ate it because it's the best dim sum I've had in Hong Kong (which pretty much means it's the best dim sum I've eaten around the world).  To top it all off, the service is beyond impeccable.  The captain waiter, Richard, details the meal with such knowledge and passion.  The best part before tasting the food is when the server describes the dish and its background.  Richard excelled in this because he cares for the diners, the food, and the whole dining experience.  Even if it's pricey, the plating, the taste, the atmosphere, and the service makes you want to come back for more, and more, and more.

Deep fried codfish, preserved olive, black bean, five spices

Deep fried crab claw coated with minced shrimp