Suay Restaurant's soulful new bar
I recently had the pleasure of attending the grand opening of the new bar at Phuket Town’s famous Suay Restaurant. For anyone living on the island, Suay Restaurant needs no introduction. The Suay brand is synonymous with fusion Thai food and not only is there now an additional branch in Cherng Talay, their newest branch is also expanding to include an area exclusively for private functions due to overwhelming demand. Just last year they were awarded a prestigious Michelin plate.
As much as I love a good event, I needed to do some more in depth … ahem ... “research” to see how the bar felt and functioned on a regular evening. It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it.
One of the things I love about Suay’s bar is how separate it feels to the restaurant. Even the style and atmosphere is different. The bar is on the left side of the building, outdoors but covered - so you can enjoy the breeze and the relaxed vibe without worrying about the weather. There are comfy stools at the bar and tables for groups along the wall. The playlist is funk/soul and metal light fixtures and plants hang from the ceiling, giving the bar a rustic feel with no airs and graces.
With James Brown’s “I feel good” playing in the background, I grabbed a seat at the bar and took a look at the extensive drinks menu. Along with the usual non-alcoholic options, the list includes beer (I spotted Thai, German and Belgian options), cocktails (many of which have been created by Chef Noi), spirits and wine by both the glass and the bottle (the wine list is also handpicked by Chef Noi). If you’re a fan of Thailand’s Cheers Riceberry beer, Suay happens to be one of only five spots in Phuket where you can currently get it on tap.
Of note, they have recently introduced a selection of Thai herb inspired cocktails. If you only try one of their new cocktails, do yourself a favour and make it the White Turmeric Martini which was created by the man of many talents, Chef Noi himself - the key ingredient being Suay’s own homemade white turmeric syrup. My gosh. I want one now just thinking about it. Smooth, subtle, sour, with a creamy foam on top and that delicious turmeric “burn” after taste. There’s also the refreshing Thai Sabai (this one includes Thai sweet basil) and the Dark’n’Sunny (fresh pineapple, rum, ginger ale and cinnamon stick) which was designed by Phuket’s famous Chalong Bay Rum.
All this … research ... made me hungry. So out came the tapas menu. Being a big-time sweet potato fan, I went with the sweet potato fries. The fries were battered and crispy, accompanied by a kaffir lime infused mayonnaise (made from scratch, of course). If you like, it’s also possible to order from the main menu and enjoy your meal in the bar area, rather than the restaurant.
I can’t fault the service. Suay’s manager, Natt, was very attentive to everyone both in the restaurant and at the bar, always on his feet, moving from table to table to ensure everything ran smoothly (it was a Friday night so very busy), making light conversation and checking that everyone was satisfied.
Phuket Town certainly has no shortage of bars to choose from but none of them are quite like this. I’ve been searching for somewhere I can hang out with friends without loud music blasting, free of people who are just there to “be seen”. Somewhere relaxed but still a little bit classy without being pretentious, somewhere welcoming and warm. Suay’s bar ticks all the boxes.