The giant rain tree’s enormous umbrella-shaped crown towers above and easily shades the open-air deck of Kampu, Mövenpick Asara Hua Hin’s signature restaurant. And by no coincidence, Kampu is also the Thai name for rain trees.
Our party is undercover in Kampu’s two-tiered alfresco dining area. Gently cooled by the sea breeze, ratan bladed fans whirr overhead, while timber and burnt orange hues give a comforting appeal. The afternoon sun dances off the oceanfront pool, stretching invitingly in front of us. The Gulf’s dark sea green waters reach out to the horizon. This is picture-perfect, tropical Thailand, style dining.
We are here to sample the Mediterranean fare from Kampu’s culinary team under the guidance of new Executive Chef Josu Sedano-Martin, who joined the resort in October 2020. Chef Josu hails from Bilbao, in the Spanish Basque Country, so it could be said that the Med’s food is in his blood.
Our food journey starts with Cucumber and Basil Gazpacho, served chilled as is the style and poured theatrically into our bowls. There sit three quenelles of Requesón, an Iberian style ricotta plus delicate gel cubes of aloe vera flavoured with lime. This light, herby, and cooling soup takes on a creamier texture when mixed with the cheese and is a totally pleasing start to our meal.
Classic Caprese Salad is given a twist with cherry tomato sized balls of (ciliegine) mozzarella cheese, fresh cherry tomatoes, tomato flavoured sponge, and fresh avocado, topped with caviar sized balsamic pearls and petit basil tips. A light and refreshing take on this classic Italian salad.
Our final starter is Steak Tartare though once again, Chef Josu and the Kampu team have added their own flair to this classic. A blend of raw beef, diced onions, capers and Worcestershire sauce, is served topped with a cured quail egg yolk and punchy mustard flavoured balls. All accompanied with fingers of toast. The made-in-house Sriracha sauce served separately on the plate adds additional heat if you so choose. This is Steak Tartare taken to a higher level and one our party enjoyed immensely.
The main dishes selected included Risotto Nero. A jet-black with squid ink creamy risotto topped with diced local grilled squid, crunchy flash-fried dried shrimp, plus a deep-fried baby squid. A rich, from the sea, inspired risotto. And keeping with the ocean theme was a Sherry steamed fillet of Sea Bass served atop a bed of butter beans, together with local razor clams and pipis. Squid ink adds colour contrast to the plate.
Our final main dish is Angus Beef Cheeks, slow-cooked for eight hours and shares the plate with oxtail filled cannelloni. Foie Gras oil adds to the already rich flavours. Maple glazed carrots accompany. This is delicious tender beef, lusciously rich and meaty sauce with Foie Gras oil for added indulgence.
Kampu offers Mövenpick branded house wines from Italy and Switzerland by glass and bottle to complement the dining experience. We sampled an Italian Pinot Grigio from the DOC region of Friuli Colli Orientali, Italy’s eastern hills that sperate it from Slovenia and were impressed with its quality. The Southern Italy Primitivo (or zinfandel) red wine from the Apulia region was a delightfully brash wine: a dark, high alcohol, fruit bomb.
In chatting with Chef Josu about dessert, we learn that no matter in which Mövenpick property across the world you are, six signature dishes will always be on the menu. The Steak Tartare we had earlier is one, as is our first sweet dish – Swiss Carrot Cake. The Kampu version is a modern take on the original and is gluten-free. Two delectably light squares of cake sitting on a not-too-sweet carrot and orange sauce, a sprinkling of granola for crunch and a luscious mascarpone and vanilla ice-cream.
Continuing with the modern interpretations is Kampus Mango Sticky Rice – a much loved Thai classic. Delicate squares of fresh local mango are accompanied by a coconut cream pannacotta, a similarly sized pearl of mango juice, a mango and coconut macaron, mango puree, sticky rice and black sesame ice cream. These types of modern culinary interpretation has this writer calling for “more, please!”
Our final dessert links with another theme found across all Mövenpick hotels – chocolate. The simply named Manjari Chocolate Fondant is a velvety chocolate pudding with a smooth, gooey centre. Manjari single-origin dark chocolate couverture (cooking chocolate) from Madagascar with its high 64% cocoa content is what makes this chocolate fondant exceptional. Oh, and the beetroot foam atop, the beetroot-coloured soil and the just perfect vanilla bean ice-cream.
During our late lunch, we got to see Mövenpick’s famous Chocolate Hour. As this privilege is strictly for in-house guests, we could not participate; just look on in envy. Mövenpick brand started in Switzerland in 1948 as a restaurant which quickly built into a chain, and in 1973, it branched into hotels. Now with more than 82 hotels worldwide, Mövenpick Chocolate Hour dedicates one hour every afternoon to an exquisite tasting experience with chocolate variations and homemade creations such as éclairs, brownies, truffles, chocolate fountains and much more! All free and something that sets Mövenpick apart from its competition.
Mövenpick Asara Resort Hua Hin is located on Hua Hin 5 Alley off Petchkasem Road opposite Makro Food Services. Kampu restaurant operates for breakfast, lunch and dinner with the all-day menu, which we sampled, available from 10:30 am to 10:00 pm. We recommend stopping in at Ocean Bar for pre- or post-meal refreshments. Shaded by another giant tree, this time, a Sea (or Indian) Almond, Ocean Bar operates from 11 am to 11 pm, and the massive circular ocean front conversation pit provides plenty of room for social distancing.
For more information on Kampu restaurant or reservations, visit the resort’s website or phone 032 520 777.
By Michael Cullen