Bistro 104’s out-and-out French-style cuisine is a rarity in Thailand.
Bistro 104 is a simple affair on the surface; comprising a downstairs dining room and bar with an upstairs kitchen and dining hall, but beware; there’s magic in the air here as the cuisine is, not to put a fine point on it, quite simply fabulous.
Where Is It?
Logically enough, Bistro 104 is to be found at 104 Yaowarat Road in Phuket Town. Heading north along Yaowarat Road from the centre-of-town Rassada Road traffic circle, Bistro 104 is just after the second set of traffic lights on the right. A nearby landmark is the Timber Hut nightclub.
The downstairs of this converted Chinese shop-house is painted a bold raspberry red, set off by dark-wood tables, bar and fittings. Oil paintings adorn the walls and giant wine-glass-shaped vases with bright flowers provide an elegant counterpoint while chandeliers and painted ceiling fans help fill in the picture.
Upstairs in the ‘dining hall’ the green-hued walls are hung with more paintings, the floor-to-ceiling windows bear gold curtains and a single wooden table in the middle of the room lends a medieval banquet hall touch.
Probably the nearest thing you’ll find to a French bistro in Phuket, 104 sticks to the same lines but without the tin Ricard signs, smokey Gauloise-laden atmosphere and a dog sleeping by the doorway. Jazz sneaks out of the speakers and enhances the France-meets-Phuket ambience of this cool place while people engage in intimate conversation. Yes, there’s a sense of occasion here.
Outside, through the ornate Chinese front doors, sitting at a table, smokers and the curious can watch the world go by in this fascinating part of Phuket’s Old Town. Still, with wine being the price it is in Thailand, customers are more likely to come here for a meal than a chat over a couple of glasses of wine.
There are only four labels on Bistro 104’s wine list – with two whites; a Chilean Montgras Sauvignon Blanc, Australian Shadows Run Chardonnay. Meanwhile, the red selection is represented by a Montgras Cabernet Chardonnay and a Shadows Run Shiraz. The Shiraz is quite simply perfect with a body and bouquet to match the flavours and textures of the dishes served here.
Casa 104 also features an exemplary selection of teas imported from Singapore sold by the pot or cup.
“I wanted a place where people can come casually dressed but be impressed by the food,” says Lek, the owner. To put it mildly, the food – served up by Englishman David Layfield, who has worked with celebrity chef Raymond Blanc – is top-of-the-line gorgeous. For starters, roasted foie gras, brioche, and caramelized apple as well as foie grass and rillette of duck terrine with a salad of apricot, Parma ham and wild rocket salad positively burst with complementary sensations as the flavours riff off each other.
Main dishes, such as braised lamb shank in saffron garlic with whole baby carrots and a tagliatelle dish with prawns, chorizo and scallops belie a good classical training with attention to the tiniest detail, resulting in extraordinarily memorable food. Casa 104 also has a dazzling culinary armoury of desserts. Highly recommended.
With the husband-and-wife team of David and Katair along with owner Lek and his partner as well as a couple of helpers, service gets close up and personal at Casa 104 and there’s not a blemish in it.
Bistro 104 at Phuket Town
- Opening Hours: 17:00 – 23:00 Closed Mondays
- Location: 104 Yaowarat Road, Phuket Town
- Tel: +66 (0) 76 221 268
- Price Range: Pricey