PHUKET, April 7 – This might just be the platonic ideal of any toast, be it classic French toast or Hong Kong cha chaan teng variation: crispy brioche with a cornflake crust; a rich, gooey peanut butter and caramel sauce; flavored coconut chips; fresh berries and a huge dollop of vanilla ice cream.
Sounds like something you might find at a brunch cafe in Auckland or Melbourne, right?
But this Crunchy Cinnamon Toast (such a humble name for a breakfast behemoth) is not a Kiwi or Aussie concoction, but one found on the island paradise of Phuket.
The tourist paradise of southern Thailand is perhaps more synonymous with All the time on the beach, but in recent years a plethora of gourmet cafes have sprung up, offering brunches with a twist as well as honest stellar specialty coffees.
It can be noted that these beach cafes are not always literally on the edge of the beach; a good spot by the sea is prime real estate, after all. But even when closer inland, these restaurants are never far from shore.
With a good pair of sandals, you can walk almost anywhere. (Or, you know, rent a motorbike and enjoy the breeze.)
Head to Soi Saiyuan, a bustling main street near Rawai Beach. Nestled among shops offering bike rentals and muay thai lessons are two exemplary cafes, Boost Café & Restaurant and The South End.
The aforementioned Crunchy Cinnamon Toast can be found at the former. Boost’s interior is filled with natural light, but weather permitting, the best seats are outside, where you can watch the world go by.
Quench your thirst with fruit juice—you can’t go wrong with the orange-carrot combination, given its nutrient density—or a sweet and creamy blend of pineapple, mango, and coconut milk.
Still, those with a serious chocolate craving (that’s me, by the way) would prefer Boost’s popular Snickers Smoothie — an intense blend of banana, dates, cocoa, peanut butter, and almond milk.
There is an option to add a scoop of whey protein powder for those who have just completed a muay thai or a CrossFit class (which almost everyone seems to attend here in Phuket).
No more yoga or pilates? Take it easy with warm mango and passion fruit oatmeal; a bowl of this is smothered with goji berries, black sesame seeds, peanuts, more coconut flakes and yogurt for extra creaminess.
For egg lovers, these are present in many dishes; it’s brunch, after all. A poached egg is the crowning glory of their corn and zucchini fritters, alongside avocado, tomato salsa, wild arugula and smoked salmon.
Prefer something heartier? How about fried eggs to accompany your steak, a Black Angus rib eye in this case, with roast potatoes and lots of Tabasco sauce.
The Harissa Shakshuka features a runny egg in a spicy tomato sauce, feta cheese, cilantro, oregano and Pita bread.
Those looking for something lighter but still substantial can avail of Boost’s super salad with pumpkin, beets, quinoa, orange, pecans and celery.
Perhaps the spicy tuna tartare, which gets its spiciness from sriracha, the aroma of white sesame and the crunch of wonton nachos.
What is I to have?
Well, no carnivore could say no to Wagyu Chef’s Burger – the wagyu the beef patty is made even more decadent with a skillet foie grasa hint of truffles, old-fashioned mustard, arugula, blue cheese, cherry tomatoes and more green onions than you’ve ever seen sandwiched between two soft rolls.
And who could resist sweet potato fries as a post-workout carb? (That makes for a healthy brunch, right?)
After getting drunk, it’s time for a little pick-me-up. We stroll a few minutes down the soi to The South End (its name is a witty observation of Rawai’s location in relation to the island’s geography).
Managed by a very Avid barista, The South End is the place to get your caffeine fix in Rawai. From the way he carefully pours frothed milk to create latte art to the painstakingly brewing filter coffee, there’s a cup of tea for every palate.
It’s a sanctuary for relaxing coffee, with the white and blue color scheme and relaxing lounge music.
We even got a few recommendations of other cafes to visit when we moved to Old Phuket Town later in our trip. Good baristas are never shy about promoting other baristas and cafes they admire; their camaraderie is something so dignified and deeply moving.
Still a few hours before sunset. It is time to return to our resort. The beach awaits us, and the view of the Andaman Sea at dusk. As we gather our things and say goodbye, we can’t help but think of something spotted earlier at Boost.
The vertical garden was verdant there, promising serenity and calm with its profusion of foliage. However, in the middle of its greenery, a neon sign announced: I licked it so it’s mine.
A cheeky post – perhaps only referring to how kids would mark their favorite dishes with a property sign, maybe not – that perfectly encapsulates beach life in Phuket and the magic hour of the brunch, where you are never in a hurry for anything other than to enjoy the gift.
Boost Cafe & Restaurant
39/38 Soi Saiyuan, Rawai, Mueang Phuket District, Phuket, Thailand
Open daily from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
The Web: boostcafehailand.com
For more slice-of-life stories, visit lifeforbeginners.com.