From the Hotel Upper Lobby, turn right towards Ariake
Open time: Daily 5-11pm. Pls call for availability
Resevation: Tel: 0 7637 0100www.lemeridienphuketbeachresort.com
“Ariake at Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort offers an authentic Japanese dining experience complete with an interactive Teppanyaki Grill, sit-up sushi bar and private Tatami rooms. Features a wide selection of sake and international wines.”
Not just a wonderful gastronomic experience, our evening was enhanced by a performance by the resident chef that embraced not only sensational open grill cooking, but egg juggling and impromptu comedy. Let’s put it in context. We arrived at Le Meridien, a famously palatial resort with no fewer than 10 restaurants, overlooking a huge, man-made lagoon. Our destination? Ariaki, a Japanese eatery with cool, contemporary oriental décor and the all-important teppanyaki grill.
With no hint of the fireworks to come, we choose an appetizer based on high-grade sushi and sashimi: a real ‘picture on a plate’, with exquisite trees and butterflies, sculpted from cucumber and carrots, amid the seafood. As captivating as the artwork, the fare consists of crispy salmon skin rolls, tuna and prawns with delicate accompaniments of wasabi, soy and ginger. This delectable array is followed by exquisitely succulent ebi tempura prawns, and kushimori -skewers of crisp and crunchy rolls with bacon and lightly cooked asparagus.
Just the first act of a memorable theatrical and culinary event, the main course, with everything conjured up before your very eyes, starts with bowls of spicy fried rice. The perfect prelude to the Japanese Waygu beef sirloin, lightly grilled, than flambéed in a display of pyrotechnics. Next the saku tuna arrives, parcelled in leaves, seared to seal in its juices, and then spectacularly immolated in an inferno of dried twigs.
Both dishes look and taste superb, succulent and tender, and with rosy-pink flesh. The tuna has been delicately flavoured by its fiery experience: the vegetables – cauliflower, broccoli and enoki mushrooms – are lightly browned, crisp and full of flavour.
There is so much else to savour in the impressively wide-ranging menu. While the list features 11 different sashimi and sushi dishes, including sea eel, capelin roe and octopus, there are eight different rice dishes, 10 based on noodles, and even a selection that caters to contemporary Japanese tastes such as gindara (snow fish) and tuna loin salad.
We finish a memorable meal – fit for a Japanese emperor – with another fiery confection, vanilla ice cream atop cubes of fresh fruit (banana, papaya and mango) flamed with lashings of brandy. Hot and cold in equal measure. Everything is washed down with traditional saki and Japanese Asahi beer. The perfect accompaniment to a superb evening, one that has gratified all the senses.