Kopi De Phuket
Kopi's 2nd floor.
To the casual reader there is only one and I know who you are - this nothing more than an excuse for a series of free meals at luxury resorts around Phuket's shores. This is a fair assessment, but I do occasionally venture inland, even into town and to smaller restaurants, if the mood takes me. I happened upon the charming Kopi de Phuket during a recent nocturnal amble around the city and found myself in company which, if not quite hi-so, was certainly more than so-so.
Kopi de Phuket is halfway between" The Books" and the Bulletin Magazine Office on Phuket Rd. It is in fact the second Kopi; the first is a tiny coffee shop in the On On Hotel on Phang Nga Rd that has been open since 1999.
The new Kopi remains at heart a coffee house, a place for people to chat and indulge in traditional Phuket-style drinks such as the black-as-hell kopi O brewed to a generations-old and, naturally, secret recipe from beans grown in Northern Thailand.
Kopi de Phuket also offers a range of juices and smoothies but the real selling point for me is the food. The menu of traditional Phuketian food is small, but the dishes themselves are lovingly created - surely all that counts- and each day a special is offered. Prices are ridiculously reasonable; Moo Hong Phuket, a rich pork-and-Chinese-mushroom stew with the aroma of star anise and cinnamon. The gravy is so robust that it's almost enough simply to spoon this over the rice. In fact, that's exactly what we do when the pork and mushrooms have been devoured, although one could also mop it up with a nice chunk of bread with equal success. Fusion food?
Next to the table is Pla Pad Takhrai, deep-fried fish fillets with lemongrass. It's slightly sweet, has just enough "bite" to it and, by virtue of the lemongrass, has a delicate, soaring taste. Having enjoyed three of my favorite scents - lemongrass, fresh coffee and cinnamon - in as many minutes, I'm fast approaching ecstasy.
The atmosphere at Kopi de Phuket is relaxed, the range of refreshments is intriguing, it offers an insight into a culture that seemed, until the shop opened, to have all but vanished. Best of all, Kopi de Phuket is not Starbucks, nor part of any other coffee shops franchise business. What better compliment could there be?