The sixth and final Hua Hin Chef’s Table event for 2018 was held in great style in the only way the Hua Hin Marriott Resort & Spa knows how. Chef Xavier Charest-Rehel, from the Big Fish & Bar, designed a 5-course menu based around the freshest local seafood paired with wines from all over the world.
There is something magical about the Big Fish & Bar; you have magnificent views of the Gulf of Thailand along Hua Hin’s coastline, with seating at either the outdoor or fully air-conditioned dining areas.
We were welcomed with G&Ts and Oysters. Roku, a Japanese craft gin, was poured over ice with tonic and fresh lime. This is the first time I have tried a Japanese gin and it’s certainly not going to be the last, as it was exquisite. Roku Gin has been crafted by skilled Japanese artisans. As they say, "A journey through the four seasons with six Japanese botanicals." Roku Gin is distilled with six uniquely Japanese botanicals; Sakura Flower & Leaf representing Spring, Yuzu Peel representing Winter, Sencha Tea & Gyokura Tea representing Summer and Sanshō Pepper representing Autumn. Eight traditional botanicals are also added; juniper berries, coriander, angelica seed and root, cinnamon, cardamom, bitter orange peel and lemon peel; these help to create the authentic gin taste. This smooth, yet refreshing drink was such a perfect match with fresh oysters!
An Amuse-bouche arrived promptly; it was called Scallop Princess. This scallop & strawberry carpaccio w/- a vodka and basil dressing really got the taste buds working. The first of two Matua wines from Marlborough, New Zealand was poured; this was their crisp 2017 Sauvignon Blanc. Bursting with citrus notes and a hint of grapefruit and basil on the nose, this wine worked extremely well with the opening dish; it was refreshingly good.
The next dish to arrive was inspired by European techniques and flavours; it was called Pepperonata. Sautéed baby squid was combined with bell peppers, olives and chorizo with a spicy paprika sauce. The wine this time came from Wolf Blass in Australia; this was their 2016 Yellow Label Riesling. This wine had fruit from both the Clare & Eden Valleys in South Australia. With lifted floral and citrus notes on the nose, complimented by rich fruit flavours through the mid-palate and a fine acidity, it was an elegant wine with great length and a clean, crisp finish. It again matched well with the dish.
The next two courses were the second starter and main and they knocked the ball out of the park. The second starter, Crispy Giant Prawn, saw a crispy giant prawn served with a classic northern Thai relish, Nam Prik Noom, as well as pickled jalapeños, coriander popcorn and lime; this all added zing and even more texture to an already terrific dish. This was paired with a wine from Beringer in the US. It was their 2016 Main & Vine Chardonnay from California. This is a very approachable and refreshing wine full of lush fruit flavours and aromas. The bright citrus perfectly offsetting the honeyed apricot, culminating in a smooth, delicious wine with a lasting finish. It was a perfect match, making this my favourite course of the night.
The main was Red Snapper and it was the final savoury course for the evening. It consisted of confit snapper topped with thin potato scales, caramelised skin and a fresh salad of radish. The wines paired were a choice of either the Beringer Chardonnay again or the second offering from Matua, this being their 2016 Marlborough Pinot Noir, which is the wine I chose for this course. This wine exudes a vibrant crimson colour, the nose of sweet cherry and strawberry hints at the layered, fresh and fruity flavours. Bright and energetic to taste, it is brimming with layers of red fruit and bramble, seasoned with a dash of spice and lightly toasty notes. For the finale comes a fresh, lingering finish that is simply moreish. Its weight also matched very well with the delicate fish.
Last but not least was the final course, dessert aptly named the Hua Hin Clafouti. This was a pineapple upside down cake served with Hua Hin Muscat ice cream and Thai basil. For this course we headed back to Australia and Wolf Blass; this time to their 2017 Yellow Label Riesling. Slightly more fresh and vibrant than the 2016, it cut through the richness of the dessert and was the final wine to round out the night.
The Big Fish & Bar open kitchen allows you to watch the team at work. I was privileged to be able to witness chef Xavier updating the service team on the dishes, the wines that were to be paired, as well as watching the plating of various dishes.
One of the great experiences of the Hua Hin Chef’s Table has been that all the chefs have been so welcoming, being very generous with their time, often inviting guests to watch how they operate and always available to discuss the dishes.
As is typical with the Hua Hin Marriott Resort & Spa, the service staff were top notch and the night went off without a hitch. As previously expressed, this blog is simply my own opinions, based on my experience with this type of food and I was thrilled to be an invited guest.
Hua Hin is already well known for having many top quality restaurants serving both International and Thai food; the style of food more synonymous with cosmopolitan cities like Bangkok. Hua Hin Chef’s Table is an innovative and exciting concept for Hua Hin. It's about a group of six talented chefs from six of Hua Hin's finest restaurants and hotels, each presenting their dynamic food from their own carefully constructed menu; highlighting both local ingredients and international techniques.