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The Passa restaurant is a wonderful haven of tranquillity hidden off the main ring road down a dusty Soi that leads to the spreading expanse of Maenam’s glorious palm fringed beach. The beautifully conceived architecture of the dining area, comprising carefully crafted local timber mixed with gorgeous natural stone features such as the gently cascading waterfall, is quite breathtaking and an ideal environment in which to experience the highly original Fusion style cuisine that Passa has become renowned for.
The concept of Fusion cuisine, dating back to the late 1970’s, is a style of cooking that combines elements of different culinary traditions inspiring a totally new take on our pre conceived ideas of how we might expect food to be prepared and presented. So many chefs and restaurants embraced this new concept without any real consideration for the respect of the principal ingredient, be it meat or fish, and more often than not the end result was just an ill considered hotch potch of either indistinct or overpowering flavours, more confusion than fusion. At Passa however the highly dedicated culinary team led by Chef Wut have an inate understanding of the fine art of balancing taste sensations and bringing to the fore the choice products on offer.
Indeed, the very choice of the name Passa, (Thai for the five senses) allows one to better understand the culinary philosophy at work here, it is the art of using all of your senses with food to create happiness and ultimate satisfaction. French cuisine is at the base here and the Southeast Asian twist really adds a whole new dimension to the well considered choices available on the highly innovative menu.
The flash fried King Scallops with lightly braised ringlets of leek and Japanese Wakame seaweed on a bed of Pumpkin and Mango puree were a simple delight, full of different textures and well constructed flavours, whilst the Salmon Tartar, our second starter choice, was quite masterfully blended with both ripe and green Mango in a Coriander, Lime and chilli dressing that just completely enlivened the taste buds with every forkful. For our main courses we opted for the Cod and the rack of Lamb. The chunky flakes of fresh white fish were cooked to perfection, presented with a variety of Pumpkin preparations both pureed and thinly cut roasted slivers with Quinoa and the most delicate of Thai butter sauces that harmonised so well with the subtle flavour of the Cod. The New Zealand rack of Lamb was quite superb, cooked to a tender rose pink served with sweet potato mash and accompanied, with real fusion flair, by Morning Glory prepared Italian style with Oregano and garlic and an unctuous creamy Thai red curry sauce that when drizzled over the Lamb only served to enhance and develop the whole dish.
Our hostess and Passa restaurant manageress, Lucy Khun from Strasbourg in eastern France, was thoroughly professional and remarkably knowledgeable when it came to recommending wines from the intriguingly different offerings from the Passa wine cellar to accompany our meals. We were delighted to make a new discovery on her recommendation with a deliciously full bodied and spicy red wine from northern Chile called ‘Carmenere’, not entirely dissimilar from the Syrah grape variety but with a lingering aftertaste of succulent berries and woody notes, extremely palatable and one to look out for if you enjoy full flavoured New World red wine.
Having saved a little room after the very generous sized main courses our dessert choices comprised a trio of chocolate wonders, two light and fluffy mousses one milk and one white chocolate accompanied by a devilishly delicious cocoa rich fondant that when cut open poured forth a lava stream of piping hot dark chocolate sauce. The second choice was quite a revelation as Lucy proposed a sumptuous cheese platter offering two creamy and flavourful Goats cheeses, a smoky Munster and a particularly tangy blue cheese that to my surprise and pleasure discovered were all made on the island by a French couple in Lamai. Lucy and her team of culinary artisans make every effort to source their produce from local suppliers, sure in the knowledge that they are providing their guests with the the freshest ingredients available, even down to the rich and aromatic blend of coffee beans that she has found being grown in the green and verdant mountainsides of Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand and which made the most delicious Espressos to round off this wonderful culinary adventure at Passa.
It is a real pleasure to see this young French lady embracing her deep rooted passion for the food of her native country and at the same time promoting all that is quintessential in Thai cuisine to create a very defined fusion of the soul and awakening of the five senses.