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Naoki, Pansea Beach

Pansea Beach , Phuket
Thailand 83000
Tel: 66 76 324 333's insider take:

With set menus priced between $190 and $250 (not including wine, tax, or tip), Naoki would be a costly restaurant in New York. In Thailand, it's a king's ransom, even among those with baht to spare. Is it worth it? Well, that depends on what you expect out of a meal. The simple open-air restaurant sits between an inky-black lake and the ocean at the sumptuous Amanpuri resort, but your focus will be on the open kitchen. There are only 21 seats, all arranged around the black granite bar, and chefs (one for every three diners) serve everything but drinks directly to you. Executive chef Naoki Okumura hails from Kyoto but trained in France, so his Japanese cuisine has European touches: Fresh fish and pomelo salad has a yuzu vinaigrette; sea urchin and crab come together in a custard. The ingredients are rich (think Wagyu sirloin) but Okumura maintains a light touch, in deference to the beach location. For foodies, the balletic preparation and procession of dishes will be fascinating. For those relatively new to Japanese food, it can be intimidating, and the language barrier makes explanations of unfamiliar dishes (and what you're expected to do with them) difficult. The bottom line? If your main focus is on the food, it'll be worth every dollar. If you're looking for the whole experience, opt for the more cozy ambience of Amanpuri's Italian or Thai restaurants.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.