Mar 1, 2022
JAMPA IS A RESTAURANT with a many-fold mission. To quickly review: It aims to be zero waste, it showcases local produce both from the Pru Jampa Farm next door and local suppliers around Phuket and Thailand, and the only impact it wants to leave is on your tastebuds – not on the planet. But though it might be hard to find a more direct-from-farm-to-table restaurant in Phuket, a common farm table this bright, luxe, inventive eatery is not.
With generous handfuls of greens from the farm that Jampa shares with sister establishments PRU, the only Michelin-starred restaurant in Phuket, and the all-seaview-villa Trisara resort, this newcomer succeeds wholesomely. One dish that executive chef Rick Dingen sends out during my visit to review Jampa is a zingy pesto made of a rotating variety of seasonal herbs and a local goat cheese, and it’s so addictive that you’ll want to pick up a jar to take home as well. Locally fished cobia, also known as lemonfish, has pride of place on the menu, instead of imported varieties that would leave a much larger carbon footprint.
“I want to support small suppliers,” Dingen says. “Fishermen call me in the morning to tell me what they caught. That’s a luxury.” The chef is always on the lookout for new products to work with. When I meet with him, he is excited about how he’s going to incorporate organic gooseberries from a small producer in Isaan that he’s just received. He is also working on an all plant-based menu that will be announced soon.
The Dutchman (originally from Eindhoven) boasts a list of credits in top-notch kitchens in the Netherlands and in Thailand, like Bangkok’s one-Michelin-star Savelberg, run by compatriot Henk Savelberg. Fans of Thai food shows will also recognize Dingen from his winning turn on the hugely popular Iron Chef Thailand.
A sleek wooden suspended bridge leads to a structure that contains a welcoming bar and the lightwood dining room, all high ceilings and encircled by a wooden deck and expansive window walls. “Look around – this could be Norway,” jokes the chef about the Nordic-esque design. It might, if it weren’t for the decidedly tropical lush landscape that surrounds the restaurant on all sides.
One of Dingen’s favorite tricks in his culinary arsenal is the use of the wood-burning grill, where everything from the wild octopus from the Andaman Sea and spring chickens from Khao Yai to the sambal (Indonesian-inspired chili paste) and longan fruit that appears at dessert is kissed with the depth of smoke and flame.
Courtesy of Jampa (2)
Dingen also looks after Hideaway by Jampa, the once-a-week pop-up table that showcases the farm experience with a twist he says is new to Phuket. “Guests can pick up their own eggs and herbs and bring them to us [to cook],” he says. Guests enjoy a casual lunch outdoors at the edge of the lake that is located right in the middle of the farm.
Livestock is not raised on the Pru Jampa Farm: the only animals here are the egg-laying hens that guests can visit as part of a tour. We made friends with one, Khai Doon, whose name translates as Steamed Egg Custard.
Jampa, the Thai name of the auspicious frangipani flower, is an integral part of Tri Vananda, a state-of-the-art physical and spiritual wellness community scheduled to open in Phuket in 2023. The US$250-million project, also dedicated to respecting the environment in which it is located, is one of the of the island’s most hotly anticipated openings. Jampa couldn’t be a better glimpse into the brand new resort community devoted to the well-being of its guests and residents: healthy and sustainable, casual yet polished, Jampa fits right in.
Jampa Restaurant in northeast Phuket is open for lunch and dinner Wednesday to Sunday; a la carte and set menu available; reservations are highly recommended.