Shane left work early Friday to help me celebrate Easter weekend a little earlier than usual. For lunch, we decided to go to Phuket (Poo-ket), a Thai restaurant named for an island off the coast of Thailand. It is located in the Village of Providence off of University Drive and has been in business about five years. If you’ve ever been to Surin of Thailand in South Huntsville, walking into Phuket is like deja vu. Its floorplan, decor, and menu are near carbon copies, despite them being operated independently.
After we were seated, our drink orders were taken and we were brought a cup of complimentary coconut soup. It is sweet, tangy, and just plain good. With pieces of tofu, green onions, and coconut milk, it is a soup that’s worth a try even if you don’t love tofu. For my entree, I chose the Beef Salad which is made of marinated and grilled pieces of steak with cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, and lettuce in a chili sauce. The salad is filling without being too heavy and has great flavor combinations. The coolness of the cucumber and the spiciness of the onion and chili sauce really make the dish stand out. My steak could’ve been more tender, but it wasn’t a filet mignon.
If I had one minor complaint about our experience, it would be the service. Even though we arrived after the lunch crowd was gone, our drinks were nearly always empty and other customers in the the dining area were obviously waiting for service as well. When we were attended to, it was always with friendliness. We will definitely be returning to Phucket. If you want to go, try lunch. The prices are much more reasonable than dinner and the coconut soup is complimentary.
For our afternoon visit to Phuket, I chose the “Yum Catfish”, a dish composed of fried catfish pieces accompanied by slightly-warm onions, lettuce, and other vegetables lightly covered in a chili sauce. The catfish itself has a nice flavor and is given a nice texture by its batter, although it was tough, probably because it had been sitting on a counter longer than it should be. The crunchy vegetables made for an unusual but delicious compliment and contrast to the fried fish. I particularly enjoyed the chili sauce that flavored the vegetables, a Sriracha sauce sweeter and tangier that the green-topped bottle one can buy at a big-box grocery store. The steamed white rice was a nice side item, adding little flavor but ensuring that I didn’t leave hungry.
The Phuket atmosphere is modern, clean, and efficient. Tables are packed closely, but there is plenty room for elbows, and the high ceilings keep away any cramped feelings. The modern feel is well-executed and appropriate for the food (it wouldn’t work so well for a meat-and-three, ya know?), but I felt it a tad sterile. The handful of Eastern-style statues add some variety and interest, but their poses do little to make the dining room truly comfortable. That being said, the atmosphere is pleasant—just not the kind of pleasant you find at Grandma’s house.I enjoyed our visit to Phuket. The food had a nice flavor, and the atmosphere was pleasant, although not as relaxing as I prefer. As Melanie mentioned, our waitress was friendly despite obviously being stretched too thin; it’s hard to fault her for the barely-average service. Leaving the restaurant for $18 and an $8 coupon, our meal wasn’t the cheapest lunch we’ve eaten, but it made for a fun and cosmopolitan but unpretentious dining experience. Phuket gets my recommendation.
Things to Consider:
- You will never see a finer copy of one restaurant than when you visit Phuket. From the menu to the interior to the music, its copy of Surin of Thailand is cold-blooded. Clearly, someone there comes from the Bruce Li school of imitation.
- Anytime I visit Phuket (or Surin), I notice the music, which is of the “ambient chill” variety. I don’t mind listening to it while working, but it doesn’t go so well with catfish and rice.
- Although I didn’t eat it during this visit, the sushi at Phuket is tasty.