Last month, we had the pleasure to sit down with Chef Phonchan, the talented Chef from behind the stoves at Thong Dee – The Kathu Brasserie, a Phuket institution you will find often find on the first page of TripAdvisor. We took this opportunity to get to know the team a bit more.
Tell us a bit more about yourself?
I was born in Buriram but I have been a Phuket resident for 15 years so I consider this my home forever since. When we started Thong Dee eleven years ago, I had no professional education in cooking at all. I never cooked Western food before, except for a two-week crash course in our home with my later to be mother-in-law.
When I was cooking, I always enjoyed preparing balanced and tasteful dishes, and I noticed that my food made people smile. While I never dreamt of becoming of Chef, this reaction nurtured a great passion in my life, as it makes me happy to see our guests smile after a lovely meal spent with their loved ones.
Where comes the inspiration behind Thong Dee?
In 2009, my husband and I wanted to start a business together in Phuket; a cliché for sure, and we chose the restaurant business as we always found it difficult to find a place that would make us both happy, mixing real, spicy Thai food for me and comforting western food for him. We wanted to create a place that would have something for everybody. In the beginning, the menu was 80% Thai and 20% European. Today, it is quite the opposite. The menu is a selection of dishes and recipes we have picked up along the way. We learned from young French-inspired, fine-dining Chefs to old retired Irish Chefs, as they taught us the ropes of the trade. Of course, we kept the home cooking dishes from Sweden, such as Swedish Meatballs, The Lasagna, and Rhubarb Cake.
What is the unique selling proposition of Thong Dee compared to other restaurants?
We have a wide variety of dishes that have been carefully selected and perfected for years. We also try to provide a high level of service and attention to details without adding to the final bill. For us, when you visit Thong Dee, it has to be more than a meal, it is a feeling and an experience. Our motto is “You come as you are and you leave like a star!”
Chef Phonchan, which dish is the most difficult to cook?
Anything new! but half-jokes aside, the duck breast has to be cooked just right; too long and its too well-done, too short and it is too rare.
Also, most Thai foods need to have the perfect balance between spicy, sweet, sour & savory.
Also, which dish would you recommend to a new visitor?
The duck, of course! we do it in different styles, such as “Normandy”, “A l’Orange”, “Pad Ka Prao”, and in salad variations. The Sunday Roasts are also a Thong Dee signature; we have people coming from all over the island every Sunday to enjoy them. We do the chicken, lamb & beef in Kathu and the chicken & pork in Phuket Town. It’s definitely a must-try!
The Massaman Curry Lamb & The Lasagna have to be recommended, too! Why? Try them and you will taste the answer!
What are your plans for the future?
Surviving 2020, period. Meaning, keeping all staff at full salaries and paying our operation costs. If we manage to do that, we will have accomplished the new 2020 goal. And what do you do after accomplishing a goal? You create a new one!
A 2019 dream was to open the 3rd branch in Cherngtalay area, Thong Dee – The Laguna Eatery. For now, that is a very distant dream, but what is the point of having a dream if it can’t come true. We can only do our best and keep pushing forward. We still in love with this paradise island called Phuket.
Thong Dee – The Kathu Brasserie is opened from Tuesday to Saturday, from 12:00 pm to 10:00 pm. You can try Chef Phonchan delicious dishes at the restaurant on Soi Bangthong in Kathu as well as in Phuket Town, on Soi Rasada. You can find more information on their website at www.thongdee.com or their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/thong.dee.kathu.brasserie.