The Slate, 5 minutes from the airport at Nai Yang Beach
Open time: Wednesday to Saturday from 6-11pm
Resevation: 0 7632 7006www.theslatephuket.com/rivet-and-rebar
Serving up authentic Japanese, Rivet is a whimsical world of exciting tastes and flavours.
A leisurely stroll across The Slate’s lobby, downstairs past the pool and through a miniature maze – and you arrive at the unique two-storey timber structure that is the The Rivet (ground level) and Rebar (upstairs).
We climbed the stairs to Rebar for ‘sundowners’ before our Japanese feast. Rebar’s distinctive furnishings give the feeling of being in a tropical gentlemen’s club in the early 20th Century – or at least when Phuket tin mining was in its heyday, the period that inspires everything about The Slate’s unique design. Rebar offers exceptionally comfortable seating and a sense of peace, overlooking the resort’s lush natural gardens… and a great deal on sundowners – with their “No rush hours” between 7pm-8pm, when cocktails and local beers are at half price.
Ensuring they cater to diverse needs, Rebar offers no-alcohol cocktails, low-alcohol cocktails and the regular, indulgent kind. We went for one of each: An Island fruit punch, a Daiquiri and a truly refreshing G & T. The chilled, jasmine-scented towels are lovely touch and perfect to dab away the glow generated by the walk from lobby to bar/restaurant.
Suitably refreshed, we headed back downstairs to The Rivet to get stuck into the delights of the 5-course Enzo’s Degustation Menu which, we rightly felt, would introduce us to tastes that we might not otherwise have enjoyed. When you’re not entirely familiar with everything about a country’s cuisine, it never hurts to let someone else do the choosing from time to time.
We started off with an ‘amuse bouche’ of White snapper sushi which performed its task perfectly, setting the standards for the treats to follow.
Next came four beautifully displayed, tasty bite-sized, morsels, Zensai mori awase, which included a seaweed-based item, an unusual sliver of pickled cucumber and a salmon tempura ball. The service was perfectly paced – neither too quick, nor leaving us salivating too long in anticipation.
And, while waiting, we contented ourselves with savouring a fine bottle of Altos del Plata, 2016 chardonnay from Argentina, along with Aqua Panna natural mineral water all the way from Tuscany; and you CAN tell the difference…
The next delightful assault on our taste buds was the Signature sashimi set - imported fish, a selection of four very different tastes and textures – all delightfully fresh: Hamachi, Tuna, Salmon and Hokkaido scallops. If there is a Japanese food heaven, we were now there – and it was only to get better with the arrival of an intriguing combination: Torched Asian cod infused with bean paste (nam prik phao), steamed Chiang Rai organic rice and chili turmeric sauce.
The progression in stages from tasty morsels to this more substantial element of the menu was clever and the taste was divine. A slightly longer wine break followed.
We had been promised Wagyu beef, but when it appeared it was not as expected. A generous, but delicately thin, slice of No. 4 fat marbled Wagyu beef (Wagyu sushi), poised over a ball of rice and served with wasabi sauce, ginger and spring onions. The beef had been briefly torched just enough to change the colour, but not enough to disguise its merits. An unusual blend of flavours and textures. Absolutely delicious.
This was all very well, but what about the ‘regular’ grilled Wagyu beef I’d been so looking forward to? Was I to be denied? The arrival of three individual volcanic stone grills, intriguingly styled as large nuts and bolts, dispelled my worries; generous 100g portions of No. 4 fat marbled Wagyu steak, ready to grill by our own hand on, followed swiftly behind. It is hard to beat an impeccable sliver of perfectly marbled steak, cooked exactly how you like it, and piping hot straight from grill to plate. Melt in the mouth perfection.
We were full! Happily so. But who could resist the temptation or the mystery of Hokkaido cheesecake? It proved a perfect finale to an intriguing and superb dining experience.
Before I leave, it would be remiss not to mention the service team. Without exception delightful, well-trained people all – who added the gloss to an already top experience.
And, last but not least, the chairs… but I should leave something for you to discover yourself when you dine at The Rivet. And don’t forget to book a table – they’re that good.