Samui Wining & Dining
Signature Dish

We drop in to Buri Rasa to sample their special oven roasted duck breast.

 

5Are you a purist? Do you insist on everything being exactly right? Are you the sort of person who loves movies but hates the TV serials that come after them? Do you insist on real coffee, not instant? You might well not be bothered about these, but how about Thai food? Are you keen on the real thing, or would you be just as happy with a de-tuned version, like the ones that you’re probably offered back home?

    It’s a shrewd guess that, seeing you’re here, you’re more than happy with the real tastes of Thailand – it’s no doubt one of the reasons you came. You just adore those tangy stir-fries, noodles and curries. But guess what? There are quite a few Thai ‘purists’ who won’t make dishes with duck in them. Personally, duck is a great favourite of mine. It’s usually a bit oily – unless you buy the choicest cuts of breast – but that’s just perfect with rice as it absorbs some of the slickness. (I’ve been trying for ages to get my local little Thai street-restaurant to add some duck dishes, but no go. The reason: “ . . . we are a Thai restaurant, not Chinese!”) Now that’s ‘purism’ taken to extremes! But, essentially, it’s true. When it comes to poultry then Thailand traditionally has only ever regarded chickens as such – every little rural hut and shack has at least a couple of gai ban (house chickens) running around the place. But not ducks.

      Fortunately, the kitchen at Buri Rasa is more cosmopolitan. Buri Rasa is one of Chaweng’s longer-established resorts, a perfect blend of Thai wooden architecture and Western solid-brick construction, with charming walled villas, antique doors and roof-styles and a lush tangle of mature and colourful vegetation in a controlled riot on either side of the neat paths.

        Their restaurant has always been held in high esteem – right from day one there’s been a series of top-notch chefs in control of the menu. And when a dish is earmarked as being ‘signature’ then you not only know that it’s special, but also that it’ll be up there with the best. And so, when word reached me about their new and scrummy signature duck dish, there was no two ways about it. Off I took myself to Buri Rasa, in the southern part of Chaweng Beach Road, close to where the one-way system changes at the turning towards Laem Din Market.

        The restaurant is close to the beach and is an open-sided structure with the kitchen forming the one solid wall – in this instance the wall is decorated with antique wooden window shutters. There’s no fuss or fairy lights here. Everything sings quality; quiet and solid, and with an unassuming décor to match. There’s an thatched beach bar nearby, with a covered strip in-between. Thus you can dine in the refined surroundings of the ‘restaurant’, can opt to sit outside or can venture over to a seaview terrace that’s nearer to the beach.

        But when you get that plate of duck curry in front of you, you really won’t care where it is that you’re sitting! The menu item lists it as “ . . . Oven Roasted Duck Breast with Butternut, Tamarind and Pineapple Curry and Mixed Vegetables”. Which it undeniably is. But these words (not even with the photos that go with them) cannot possibly translate this into taste-bud terms – for that you’ll have to sample it for yourself. It’s been crafted by Executive Chef, Khun Somchai Supanpon, a man of no small expertise. He’s a creative chef, and the ingredients are lights years away from those which the street-corner eateries deploy. It’s an imported and succulent prime breast of duck with not a trace of oil at all. It’s sequentially-roasted in the oven; meaning that the last part of the cooking cycle ramps up the temperature to transform the skin into one single crunchy shell, inside which is pure, succulent, moist, tender duck. It comes with a red curry sauce. Usually this is based on a chicken stock into which the curry paste and other ingredients are mixed. That’s how this one begins. But then Khun Somchai adds into the curry sauce the juices from the roasted duck, endowing it with a flavour that’s like no other red curry I’ve ever tasted. And then there’s the pumpkin – a butternut ‘squash’ imported from New Zealand, that’s roasted in the oven along with the duck and then mashed to a silky texture. And then, with creative cunning, he makes his own special tamarind sauce, adds it to the curry-mix and then serves it to you with an assortment of baby vegetables.

       I’ve just noticed that I’m dribbling on the keyboard with the memory of it all – sorry! But then, when it comes to food and exquisite and associated experiences, I’m no ‘purist’ at all. Bring it on! You can play the Buri Rasa duck experience in one of several keys. You can go there any evening and treat your taste-buds. Or you can go there on a Thursday evening and chose between this sublime duck dish or the all-you-can-eat- BBQ. Either way, on a Thursday, there is live and gentile music to go with your meal, courtesy of a pair of acoustic troubadours. Take your pick. Buri Rasa’s super signature roasted duck breast will cost you 550 baht. The beach buffet BBQ will come to 700 baht. The music comes free. Either way at Buri Rasa you’re on to a winner, signature or not!

 

Rob De Wet


 


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