THE WANDERLUST CHEF COMES HOME TO ROOST

He's been in and out of UAE, working and leaving for 'better opportunities' and coming right back — not once but thrice — as he did not like the other places. That's Chef Surachit Phakamat for you, a Thai by birth but an expert in Japanese cuisine —

By Blessing Johnson

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Published: Mon 18 Apr 2005, 2:01 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 5:58 PM

not just any Japanese cuisine but his own style — mixing his innate knowledge of Thai cuisine with his acquired art of Japanese cooking, the result is a pleasant blend of not just gastronomic delights but of cultures as well.

"I love the UAE ... it's like my second home," he says "In between, I had been to Ireland to work there but I had never dreamed that my love for this country would pull me back here. All our friends are here and people are quite nice, furthermore, working here is a pleasant experience."

Between his long but perforated stint in the UAE, he worked in Sydney, Thailand, Japan, Ireland and back to working in the UAE. "I used to work in an Abu Dhabi Shaikh's palace, it was wonderful working there, but then I was young, brash and had a dream of working in different countries, so I relocated to Ireland, then Australia but came right back to the UAE, but this occupational peregrination has taught me a lot of things ... I wanted to learn more dishes, experience different cooking styles and working atmospheres," he explains.

When asked which country he liked working in, without battling an eyelid, he says "No doubt, the UAE ... that's why I keep coming back to it again and again."

"After the stint outside UAE, I returned to work at the restaurant Fish Market at the InterContinental, Dubai and did quite well there." he says. Presently working at the specialist Japanese restaurant Noodle Sushi attached to the Seaworld, seafood restaurant on Shaikh Zayed Road, where he is spinning culinary magic with the experience gathered on his travels all over the world.

Asked how he has contributed to changing Japanese cuisine, he says Japanese cuisine is more or less same the world over, unlike Chinese cuisine which is adapted to local tastes ... but he has managed to mix Thai and Japanese styles for a new dining experience. "I have personally been party to changing a lot of things," he says "I have incorporated a lot of ideas. I'm basically from Thailand and was trained in Japanese cooking, so all my dishes are an amalgamation of Thai and Japanese styles of cuisines. For example, I mix Thai soup and Japanese noodles for a unique taste. Thai food is mostly herbs and is hence spicy and sour, but Japanese has a lot of soya sauce, sugar. I make the freshest noodles ... my sushi is very different from the others, so much so when I'm on leave, guests just taste the food and enquire if I'm on leave ... it's the way I make food which makes the difference.

The sauces I use are different and I have also introduced a few dishes here, which are not served anywhere in the UAE. Everyone uses soya and chilli sauce, whereas I use fresh ginger sauce with garlic for that tang that makes the difference. I use separate sauces for noodles too," he says with just a hint of pride at his work.

Apart from dishing up culinary wonders, the chef revels in the fact that he conjures up delightful platefuls for diabetics in a personal capacity, a fact vouched to by the restaurant manager who swears by the chefs 'diabetic food', which is light and healthy.

There is something about his handiwork that is refreshing and a whole lot of Europeans and locals were seen to be enjoying the delectable cuisine on the menu of Noodle Sushi, and for those who want to 'taste-test' the chef's Japanese delights, he suggests a mini set meal which gives them a taste of everything without burning a hole in the pocket.



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