With the Amanpuri celebrating its 30th birthday soon, Nama is an early gift from the two Aman properties in Japan. A dignified dining experience bringing the finest elements of Japanese culture to meet the high standards of the Aman brand, Nama truly is a taste of Japan.
As with most elements in Japanese culture, there is more to this fine dining restaurant than first meets the eye. Starting with the name, ‘Nama’ means raw in Japanese, which is quite fitting for a restaurant with extensive sushi and sashimi offerings on the menu. But on closer inspection, there is more to the name than a simple translation, as Nama is Aman spelt backwards, and this is an example of the care and attention to detail that goes into everything at the Amanpuri in Phuket.
The concept of Nama is simultaneously simple and complex, and each dish is stylishly modest. The cuisine follows the Unesco recognised tradition of Washoku, a Japanese style of cooking that takes years of work and respect to perfect. Washoku is based on harmony within food, and combines a range of flavours and a beautiful presentation to satisfy all the senses and highlight the natural flavours of the ingredients. Each dish on the menu has been carefully selected by Master Chef Keiji Matoba, who has an impressive 20 + year career of bringing Washoku to contemporary restaurants across the world, perfecting his signature tastes and developing a select following of those who truly appreciate the finer details of cuisines.
My trip to Nama involved a generous six course meal, and a journey into the Japanese cuisine. After being seated at Nama, we were brought a delicate variety of Matcha tea to awaken our senses and tastebuds. We were then greeted by the Chef who explained the Nama concept and alluded to the dishes that would come. While most reviews of Nama online mention the concept of wabi-sabi (the beauty of imperfection), my experience had no imperfections. The only glimpse of wabi sabi came from the hand made sake cups, which were indeed beautiful in their unique ways.
From start to finish authentic and elegant dishes, each with an elaborate finish appeared on our table. From a delicate salad starter to a selection of fresh sashimi, the natural flavours of the ingredients were expertly highlighted through the combination of accompaniments. The sashimi came on ice and tasted as if it has just been caught in the Andaman sea we overlooked. Next we were treated to a dish of salmon and eggplant marinated with sweet miso, and bursting with flavour, followed by vegetable tempura including a fried version of the unusual shiso leaf.
The final dish was the Wagyu Sirloin, the main entree of the evening, coming with rice and miso soup, and the undisputed highlight of the menu. Since we had a special taster menu, the premium A5 grade beef was served with a few select vegetables and a hand crafted sauce. Normally the sirloin is grilled on the table in front of guests by one of the expert chefs, allowing you to glimpse expertise in action. After a brief reprise and a chance to digest, a desert of green tea ice cream and delicate red beans were served to cleanse the palate and signify the end of a delicious journey into Japanese cuisine and heritage.
As well as exquisite food, Nama also has an impressive array of Japanese sake and even offers Taketsuru pure malt whisky aged 17 years and Hibiki blended whisky aged 21 years, neither are likely to be found elsewhere in Thailand. A variety of Born sakes are on offer and the Aman brand has also created their own sake, with the help of the Masumi brewery. A soft and sweet sake, Aman’s Masuni is well balanced, pleasant to drink and a great souvenir to take home as a reminder of the Amanpuri. For Shochu or Umeshu lovers (such as myself) there are a few high quality options on the menu also.
Nama is open to non-guests of the resort and a visit to the next culinary chapter for Aman is also a good way to experience the flagship resort, the Amanpuri. Head there around sunset and you can stop for a drink at one of the Amanpuri’s strategically placed bars to view the sunset colours before your dinner date at Nama. To follow through on the Washoku traditions of honouring the seasons, Nama is only open seasonally, from November 1st until the 10th May. The restaurant is open both for lunch (12:00-15:30) and dinner (19:00 – 23:00) and reservations are required.
For more information see the Amanpuri’s website or call +66 (0) 76 324 333