Sprawling across the day bed in your private cabana, sipping a thirst-quenching coconut courtesy of your private butler as you look out over the tranquil waves lapping the palm tree-lined, hermit crab-scattered shores at Trisara (Phuket, Thailand), doesn’t set the most obvious scene for a Michelin-starred restaurant.
Enter PRU – a graciously designed, fine-dining restaurant effortlessly bringing the farm-to-table philosophy to Thailand while simultaneously Planting, Raising and Understanding simple ingredients with the goal of cordon bleu. Awarded its first Michelin star in late 2018, the venue is a magnificent gem at Trisara – Phuket’s only private ocean-view, pool and villa resort – and it was all a beautiful accident.
Taking inspiration from Trisara’s very own farm “Pru Jumpa”, PRU is set to elevate the farm-to-table movement in Thailand. The culinary concept stems from the team’s close relationship with local suppliers and farmers as well as the opportunities to forage and discover new ingredients at “Pru Jumpa”, the resort’s nearby expansive. Dishes are made entirely with products sourced from around Thailand – with a focus on the terroir of the Andaman Sea – including sustainable, organic ingredients pulled from the resort’s 16,000 square meter farm, located in the northeast of the island.
The idea of PRU sprouted from a deep respect and appreciation for Thailand’s native fauna and flora. The name is not only an acronym for the restaurant’s ethos of ‘plant, raise, understand’ but also a commemoration of the in-house farm, Pru Jumpa. When the land was cleared in 2004 for the construction of Trisara, the bulk of the native flora was transferred to Pru Jumpa for safekeeping. Since then, the 240-acre farm has acted as a sort of plant hospital, replenishing the rich landscape of the resort. Currently, only 15 acres are used within the massive farm, but the resort hopes to further cultivate the land to meet the increasing demands of its kitchens. In three years’ time, the farm intends to rear its own livestock. At present, PRU already makes its own goat cheese and butter from milk supplied by neighbouring farms as well as uses eggs from the farm’s free-range chickens. Additionally, 100 per cent of the ingredients used in PRU’s kitchen are sourced from within Thailand, with over 75 per cent coming from wider Phuket.
At the helm of PRU’s masterful menu is Chef Jim Ophorst, a youthful Dutch chef who competed in Thailand’s S. Pellegrino Young Chef competition in 2016. Jim, or Jimmy as he likes to be called, first started his career at Trisara at the resort’s sister restaurant, Seafood, before headlining the new concept. He earned his culinary stripes at Gaggan in Bangkok, a restaurant named the top in Asia for two years running by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
PRU refers to the establishment’s philosophy of “plant, raise and understand” its ingredients, similar to the minimalist, ingredient-focused approach to food that put acclaimed Copenhagen restaurant Noma on the map. The spotlight at PRU extends beyond Thai ingredients to the produce, and finding out about and tasting items such as cheese from Chiang Mai. This opened our eyes to the wonderful food landscape in the Land of Smiles.
PRU’s culinary style is inspired by Western influences combined with the exotic and adventurous local cuisine. They offer sumptuous six and eight-course menus, and a special six-course menu for vegetarians. Featuring wines that are organic, natural, and biodynamic, PRU’s wine list is also a toast to the restaurant’s commitment to sustainability.