One of the most magnificent examples of Sino-Portugese architecture is the house built for tin baron Phra Pitak Chinpracha, a wealthy Chinese descendant, who was born in Phuket. The mansion is known as ‘Baan Chinpracha’.
The old mansion was built in 1903, in the reign of King Rama V. The distinctive character is not only refl ected by
the white building situated amidst shady trees, but also its history. The mansion was originally built by, to use as a
bridal house (home for a newly wed couple), but after its completion, they did not reside there, as the mansion is far
away from the market and other families. The house was then used for guests and accommodation. Above the door,
is a wooden sign with Chinese letters that reads ‘Lean Bee’ meaning ‘Lotus’. This is in commemoration of the hardship &
struggle of ancestors. The house faces south, enabling air to flow through. This reflects the wisdom & expertise of the
A well is situated in the middle of the mansion which also helps ventilation, in addition to many windows. Decoration in Baan Chinpracha today is not much different from the original style. Most furniture & decorative items were imported through Penang. In the old days, shipping trade via Penang to Phuket was flourishing. This included gate material from the Netherlands, tiles from Italy & pearl engraved wooden furniture from China.
Phra Pitak Chinpracha was recently taken on by the Blue Elephant restaurant chain. The crumbling 100-year-old, 20-room mansion had been empty for decades. Now the international Thai restaurant chain, established in London
in 1986, allocated $2m to renovate the mansion. “Basically we are keeping as many of the original features
of the house as possible, but we need to bring it into the 21st century in terms of its facilities,” says Thaviseuth
Phouthavong, the Blue Elephant vice-president.
Nooror Somany Steppe, founder of the Blue Elephant Group and a world class chef, has been known as the unofficial culinary Ambassador of Royal Thai Cuisine since 1980. She has vast, in-depth knowledge and experience of Authentic Thai Cuisine finding. This is possibly due to her upbringing and the culture in Chachoensao, a city a little East of Bangkok.
Her “Thai Cooking of the Past”, her “Thai Cuisine of Today”, and her vision of the “Thai Kitchen of Tomorrow” makes her one of the most creative and interesting Chefs in the Kingdom and her ideas have now been spread across
the Blue Elephant chain.
Nooror Somany Steppe has now passed on her vast knowledge and experience to Chef Sombat Prongthong, who is in charge of local cuisine at the Phuket branch. The spectacular dishes on offer at the Blue Elephant Phuket can only be described as authenticity accomplished by Thai chefs prepared dishes with ingredients of the highest quality, all from the home-country. Tradition and innovation, most recipes are centuries old, faithfully handed down through generations. Others are new, creative, and unique variations on traditional themes. Presentation of visually stunning dishes artistically presented with carved fruits and vegetables.
Elaborate dishes beautifully presented and subtly spiced are sure to please and this fine place to dine has an array to please all from different tastes and textures to different ranges of spiciness. Innovative dishes include Chor Muang, a steamed fl ower shaped dumpling, Laab Salmon, a salmon tartar, Doi Kham Salad, a purple eggplant salad with grilled scallops and Black Chicken Crispy Spring Rolls as starters. Gastronomic delights continue with Nooror’s Massaman Lamb is a coconut milk curry of lamb, potatoes, peanuts and cashew nuts, Black Chicken Green Curry, Phad Sator Koong, prawns with parkia in shrimp paste, Duck with Tamarind Sauce. The unique serving dishes of plates and bowls may include a bamboo case or pandus leaves.
BLUE ELEPHANT RESTAURANT
96 Krabi Road, Tambon Taladyai, Amphur Muang, Phuket 83000, Thailand
Tel: +66 (0) 76 354 355, +66 (0) 76 354 357
Fax: +66 (0) 76 345 393