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PHUKET: You won’t know about Big Fish unless you’ve stayed at the Marriott Resort & Spa in Nai Yang.

The upscale restaurant is tucked against the sea-side base of the modern hotel, and is nearly surrounded by Sirinath National Park.

Even after arriving, would-be diners must speak with a bellhop to be driven down by golf cart to the restaurant. This has its own charm, if you’re in the right mood – like visiting a speakeasy, you’re in on some secret. The restaurant is fortified, in a way, against the traffic and chaos of Phuket’s day-to-day throngs.

The venue’s formal dining is relaxed by its pool-side ambiance, and its view of the Andaman is absolutely distracting. That is, until you open a menu.

Along with haute cuisine favorites, like rack of lamb and red snapper, Big Fish offers gourmet twists on traditional Phuketian dishes.

It trawls the flavors of Phuket Town’s street-side vendors and My-Fair-Lady’s theme. Hokkien noodles and Tom Yum are presented as upright and chic, but still have enough fiery undercurrent to make you blush. Like many of Phuket’s ritzy eateries, Big Fish straddles the avant-garde and the traditional. Unlike many of them, it seems comfortable doing so.

Along with its full-range bar, no doubt popular with Marriott residents wishing to partake in sundowners and the restaurant’s front-row seat to the Andaman’s sherbet sunsets, Big Fish boasts one of the more refined wine cellars in Phuket.

Connoisseurs would be satisfied with a house red here, although there are more sophisticated bottles to choose from. However, the sommelier’s curation shines in the white wine selection. Sauvignon blancs have a refreshment appeal at this latitude, and Big Fish’s seafood offerings are a natural fit.

The brand new restaurant only opened its doors on June 1, and is already gathering a reputation for producing quality seafood entrees.

“We purchase the majority of our seafood locally, and every day; Chef Sahapat visits local markets and fishermen on Nai Yang Beach to select fresh fish, crabs, prawns and shellfish,” says Marriott spokes- person Panchan Noimeecharoen.

While Big Fish’s luster shines brightest on their seafood offerings, red-blooded diners will take comfort in their selection of steaks and lamb, paired with an excellent range of Cabernet Sauvignons, Shiraz or Malbec.

Book a room uphill and hire a babysitter. This is one restaurant we’re hooked on.

— Wes Martin