The newest and ritziest hotel in Pattaya is the new Centara Grand Phratamnak Resort. Owned by the Tulip Group and managed by Centara, it is easy to find at the beach end of Pratamnak Soi 5.
Their Oceana restaurant on the ground floor was the subject of review a few months ago, and the Dining Out Team was very favorably impressed. This time we went along to review their Oyster Festival, being more than somewhat a fan of the succulent bi-valves!
Jonathan Swift (Gulliver’s Travels) is quoted as having said, “He was a bold man that first ate an oyster.” But mankind had been eating oysters long before that. The Whaleback Shell Midden in Maine contains the shells from oyster harvesting for food consumption dating to 2200-1000 years ago.
Even the name is steeped in European history, first attested in English during the 14th century, the word “oyster” comes from Old French “oistre,” in turn from Latin “ostrea,” which is the Latinization of the Greek Dóôñåïí (ostreon) meaning “oyster”.
Now much has been said over the years regarding the aphrodisiac qualities of oysters, including the fact that Casanova, the 18th century lover, used to breakfast on 50 oysters, and he didn’t do too badly in the horizontal gymnastics stakes either!
Mind you, nothing beats the Chinese time-wise, who have been using aphrodisiacs for 40,000 years – using tiger penis, rhino horns, cinnamon herbs, and elephant tusks, but surprisingly no oysters! However, I can’t imagine the Centara Phratamnak GM Dominique Ronge promoting a tiger penis festival. (Ed’s note: and we’d be loathe to promote the senseless killing of tigers, rhinos and/or elephants.)
But please note that scientific study was carried out in 2005, to show that oysters really are aphrodisiacs. They discovered two unusual amino acids – D-aspartic acid (D-Asp) and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) which have an effect on libido.
In 2009 it was also found that oysters contain varying levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that stimulates the ‘arousal’ center in the brain (which governs among other things, sexual arousal) and this action could feasibly occur straight away on ingestion. (“I’ll have another half dozen please, waiter.”)
And while on the history and interesting facts on oysters, throughout the 19th century, oyster beds in New York Harbor became the largest source of oysters in the world. On any day in the late 19th century, six million oysters could be found on barges tied up along the city’s waterfront. They were naturally quite popular in New York City, and helped initiate the city’s restaurant trade.
But back to our local oyster festival in the Oceana restaurant of the Centara Grand Phratamnak, the oysters were Kumamoto (Japan), Fine de Claire (France) and Cadoret de Bretagne (France). (3 for THB 500, 6 for 900, 9 for 1250 or 12 for 1,700.) These are opened fresh on the spot.
The wine on special with the Oyster Festival is the Chilean Mar Y Sol, 2011 Sauvignon Blanc (THB 600).
The concept of the oyster festival is simple. Choose your oysters in multiples of three and your service personnel does the rest, bringing the oysters to you accompanied by various condiments. You can then either stay with the oysters, or move into the a la carte menu items having made the oysters your starter.
Madame went with the oysters only option, and found that six were enough. For myself, I went with the three oyster option and then an Aussie burger from the a la carte menu (being the lead up to Australia Day when the review was done). I have to also admit I then went back to another three oysters, with the Cadoret de Bretagne being my favorite. Mind you, with my six oysters I was still a long way behind Casanova’s 50!
The Oyster Festival is only on Friday and Saturday evenings from 6 p.m. and runs in January and February only. A very special gourmet festival and one that the Dining Out team highly recommends. We enjoyed the evening immensely and even had a night cap in the Ruffino restaurant around the pool (thank you Amy).
Centara Grand Phratamnak Resort Pattaya, 352/430 Moo 12, Nongprue, Banglamung, Chonburi 20150 (at the bottom of Soi 5 Pratamnak), Tel: 038 306 337, Fax: 038 306 338. Secure parking under the main building.