13 October 2014

Six Senses Yao Noi

Six senses has seven, exclusive, sustainable resorts on unique locations in five countries; China, Oman, Maldives, Vietnam and Thailand. Our holiday destination was their resort on Yao Noi island at the beautiful Phang Nga Bay between Phuket and Krabi in southern Thailand. Most of the 50+ villas are located on a hilltop and gives the guests complete privacy and a sense of relaxed luxury with private pool and complete comfort.

Head chef is Anthony Reynolds with past experience in places like Le Gavroche in London, and he oversees the three restaurants on the resort. 'Living Room' serves a variety of dishes in an informal "al fresco" setting. This is also the venue where the massive and great breakfast is served every morning. 'Dining Room' serves organic european cuisine in a fine dining setting and finally 'Hilltop Reserve' with its amazing view over the bay and the main property pool.

They also have some visiting chefs from time to time. Only two weeks after we left the island Magnus Nilsson from the famous Fäviken Magasinet in northern Sweden was doing a guest appearance. Do I need to explain how bummed I was that I missed that?
Overall the standards of the food were very high and they had a good wine list to dig in to.
Various gardens are scattered around the place where they grow herbs and vegetables for their dishes. They even have their own mushroom hut.
They also collect rainwater that they filter and bottle to serve the guest, they ferment pineapple skins to use as a magical fertilizer in their gardens and the vegetable off-cuts are fed to the chickens that produce the tasty eggs that the guests eat for breakfast.
We definitely didn't walk around hungry during our stay and the service was throughout very attentive and warm.


Mushroom hut

Aloe vera, used in their after sun lotion

Day 1

A light lunch of steamed barramundi caught in the water outside the resort and served with green chilli seafood sauce.
The fish was steamed to perfection, juicy, soft and flaky. The sauce, eventhough containing chilli, didn't overpower the delicate fish. A great dish.

For dinner we went to the Dining Room.

A refreshing tamarind ice tea with a perfect balance between sweet and sour was served with the lemongrass towel as a welcome gesture. Now both my throat and hands were clean and ready for some food.

As an appetizer we were served a tuna tataki with asian pickled vegetables.

2011 Dog Point Chardonnay from Marlborough, New Zealand was my choice for the evening. Smokey aromas, roasted hazelnuts, matchstick and a massive minerality. Medium bodied with refreshing acidity and just a light touch of oak. The wine was very perfect with my two dishes.

Roasted cauliflower bisque with truffle, brown butter and apple.

Home made tagliatelle with roasted garlic and a selection of mushrooms grown on the resort.
Really good and rich but both dishes was a bit similar in their bold, creamy flavors. I could only blame myself who made the order.

Day 2

Chicken satay with peanut sauce and pickled cucumber. Compared to the one I'm used to from Indonesia, these skewers had an Indian seasoning that was very interesting and tasty as well.

Beef salad with chilli, mint, celery and shallots as a main course this lunch. Classic Thai flavors like lemongrass and ginger in the mix, pretty spicy but very good.

We started the dinner in our villa with some Serrano ham and olives. A half bottle of NV Grande Cuvée from Krug was our choice of aperitif. 
This truly is a great champagne packed with aromas of lemon confit, pineapple, roasted bread and elderberry. Creamy, rich taste with a long finish.

After this great little start we went to Hilltop Reserve restaurant for our dinner. This restaurant is beautifully located above the resort's main pool. Every alternate day they serve a theme menu and a la carte Thai food. This night it was the later. You choose four courses from the a la carte menu to make up your own set menu. We decided to skip dessert and pick four savory dishes. After a start of prawn crackers with home made ketchup my first course was served;

Crispy crab balls with mango salad. A pretty plain dish without that extra "something". The crab balls weren't really crispy and the salad was more of a dipping sauce.

'Tom yam gong' was my second choice. This classic soup was made to perfection according to my taste buds. I asked for medium spicy which was perfect, still spicy but bearable until the last sip and perfectly seasoned. Prawns and mushrooms were added but why do they never take out these big pieces of ginger, lemongrass and handful of lime leaves from the soup bowl? Who wants to chew on those?

Third serving was wok duck with Japanese onion, Thai chilli and tamarind sauce. Served with steamed rice this was a good dish.

Grilled pork spare rib was my last choice. Charcoal barbecued and marinated in five spice.
Finger licking good.
All the dishes were washed down with the famous Thai beer Singha.

Day 3

This was by far the best young coconut water I've ever tried. Naturally slightly sweet and very tasty. We drank it together with 'som tum gai yang', an amazing, barbecued, local chicken with green papaya salad for lunch. Fantastic!

In villa dining for dinner.
A juicy grass fed angus ribeye steak with potato fondant and red wine jus.

With the steak a beautiful bottle of 2009 Dominus from Dominus Estate in Napa Valley, California. One of the classic wines from the region made by the famous Christian Moueix. There's not a single drop of Merlot in this wine, the grape that made Monsieur Moueix famous with wines like Petrus and Trotanoy. Mainly Cabernet Sauvignon with 10% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot. The wine has been matured in 40% new oak for 18 month.
The nose was initially very perfumed, elegant and a bit closed. Lacking a proper decanter I poured the wine in an ice bucket we had and one hour later the wine had truly blossomed. 
This is one of these wines you don't need to drink, just sniffing it for hours would have been enough.
The sweetest of blackcurrants and blackberries ( without being jammy) with a medium body and an already perfect balance in the mouth. Silky tannins and acidity well integrated with the juicy fruit. Superb.
Together with the first Rush Hour movie on the TV this was a great end of another fantastic day in the paradise.

Day 4

Lunch at The Den which is the resort's bar.
We ordered a massive seafood platter with crabs, oysters, lobsters, scallops, langoustines and local prawns, served with bread and various dipping sauces. In the glass a young, fresh bottle of 2011 Chablis from Domaine Francois Raveneau. Light and citrusy with notes of raw rhubarb, lemon, almond and chalk. A bit fatter and rounder in the mouth than on the nose with yellow plum, chervil and cream. A five star lunch an amazing setting.

The craving for something sweet was now big. So perfect then that they have an ice cream bar serving unlimited, home made ice cream for free just next to the bar.
I chose green tea and sesame. Both great.

After a fantastic massage at the spa we went back to Dining Room where we had our first dinner.
This time a mushroom soup was served as an appetizer.

We decided only to go for a main course since the big lunch was still making an impact on our appetite. 

The Austraian lamb rack on the menu looked tempting. Served with romanesco crust, melted leek and juniper jus. It was perfectly cooked and seasoned.

A bottle of fruit driven Shiraz was ordered. 2010 Bishop from Glaetzer in Barossa Valley, Australia. Berry compote, vanilla and mint chocolate, very typical for its style.
Not the most complex wine but it filled its purpose this evening and matched well with my lamb even though the length of the wine was a bit short.

Day 5

The last full day on Yao Noi we felt like exploring the island a bit.
After a morning in mud piles, rice fields and viewing the local villages on our rented ATV the hunger kicked in so we stopped at 'Je T'aime', a relaxed restaurant in the heart of the island. It's run by a Danish lady and her French boyfriend and the restaurant is ranked as number one on the island according to Tripadvisor. We had vegetarian spring rolls as a starter and 'Laab Moo' (spicy pork salad) and chicken green curry as mains. Simple and very good.

For the last dinner we went back to the bar The Den. We ordered 'Plaa Bplaa', tuna tartare marinated in lime, lemongrass, mint, chili and shallots, like a 'lab-salad'. It was good but a bit more seasoning wouldn't have hurt for this refreshing starter.

As a main course I chose 'Neua yang jim jow', grilled beef cubes with a dipping sauce. Perhaps the least favorite dish during our stay. A bit plain and boring.

As dessert we chose a fantastic mango sticky rice with coconut sorbet.

The night ended with a few mojitos with the charming chef Anthony. A well traveled and experienced chef who must have the best job in the world.
It truly wasn't easy for us to leave this amazing resort the morning after.

I can really recommend you to try this resort if you travel in the Phuket region and you will be amazed with the nature, professional and friendly service, food, and fantastic accomodation.

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