Samui Wining & Dining
Life Is Good

You’re in the perfect place to enjoy life to the full – so go ahead!

You’re in the perfect place to enjoy life to the full – so go ahead!A warm welcome to this month’s issue of Wining & Dining. I would love to be able to tell you about all the colourful festivals and the exciting local events that are happening this month – but I can’t. There aren’t any! So I suppose you’ll just have to do what you came here for; enjoy the sunshine and the huge range of superb restaurants that abound, relax and enjoy yourself!

If you’re in Chaweng or Lamai, you’ll see them right out on the main streets. But here’s a tip: many of the best ones are hidden away. And that’s where we excel. Inside these pages, we’ll be looking at some of these gems. So read on and enjoy!

Ocean and Earth

Silavadee Pool Spa Resort celebrate their 10-year anniversary with an exquisite and very special menu.

Silavadee Pool Spa Resort celebrate their 10-year anniversary with an exquisite and very special menu.Silavadee in Lamai embraces a true ‘back to nature’ concept. The name itself means ‘beautiful rock’, and the resort is tucked tidily into a rocky hillside amongst lush tropical vegetation that runs all the way down to a dramatic beach, with huge rocks creating an awe-inspiring atmosphere. It’s the perfect backdrop for a sumptuous dining experience.

Silavadee will be celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year, and the owner, general manager and new head chef have put their heads together to create a perfect celebratory menu. This is an extra-special western-style set-menu based on the resort owner’s love of lobster and Wagyu beef, and demonstrates the creative finesse and commitment of the new head chef.

Arrive at the resort around 6:00 pm to make the most of the evening. Take a buggy ride down to the Sun, Moon and Star dining areas, rise above Moon via the stairs, up to Star and let your enchanted evening begin. The sophisticated rooftop open-air bar and dining area offers you stunning and breath-taking views across the ocean. Indulge in a pre-dinner cocktail whilst taking in the whole vista of the Lamai coastline as the sun begins to sink. Watch as the early evening sky dramatically lights up into a rich fiesta of red, pink orange and gold. Gaze upwards as the stars begin to appear in the quickly darkening sky, and let the cooling breeze refresh you from the heat of the day. There are the numerous bar stools around the edges of the rooftop, or lie back on one of the circular daybeds. Preferably book ahead and make sure to reserve one of the four sunken tables surrounded by water.

Catch of the Day

We find out more about langoustines.

We find out more about langoustines.Most people would be able to identify a lobster if asked, and most would also know a prawn – although they might call it a shrimp depending on where they are from. But a langoustine? What is it really? Well it’s smaller than a lobster and bigger than a prawn. Take a prawn and quadruple it in size. Add claws. There you have your langoustine. And as if they don’t have enough of an identity crisis already, what with being confused with lobsters and prawns, they’re also known as Norway lobsters, scampi and Dublin Bay prawns.

Originally found off the coast of Norway, langoustines are a member of the lobster family. These days they’re caught along the Atlantic coast, including Scotland, as well as the western Mediterranean and the Adriatic, though overfishing has caused numbers to drop, so their rareness makes them even more of a delicacy.

Langoustines don't change colour when they are cooked unlike their big cousin, the lobster. They have pink, narrow smooth-shelled bodies, with long knobbly claws, and are not very meaty. The shell, head and thorax (the upper torso) can't be eaten, but the tail and the meat in the claws can. As they spoil very quickly, most langoustines are cooked and frozen at sea, so it's quite hard to find live ones.

They’re solitary predators, feeding on smaller sea creatures. Trawling is the most common form of fishing, when the langoustines are caught as they emerge from their burrows in the seabed. Unfortunately, this method of capture also kills the undersized and berried (pregnant) ones and produces a large dead by-catch as well.

Another Gem

But this is one you don’t have to search for – Anantara Bophut!

 But this is one you don’t have to search for – Anantara Bophut!Anantara Bophut Koh Samui Resort is a 5-star resort. It has a quiet and unassuming elegance that’s almost regal. Unlike some of the downtown places that are screaming for space, here it’s opulent and lush – you could fit another whole resort in the gardens alone. Touching onto the fringe of Fisherman’s Village, it occupies a sweep of real estate that runs from the ring-road to the beach.

The grounds are mature and luxuriant and, having passed through reception, it’s hard to spot all the lovely little suites and cottages which peep out from amongst the giant trees, surrounded by wide ponds, water features and lush tropical greenery. Everything is solid, substantial, understated, and simply whispers quality. And as well as the 106 luxurious rooms and suites, some of the other things you also won’t notice are the library, the fitness centre, two excellent restaurants, the Children’s Club, the tennis court and the spa.

Anantara Spa offers a delightful setting for their various signature spa treatments and Ayurvedic healing rituals. There’s a surprising 3,000 square metres tucked away here amidst the greenery, featuring six glass-walled luxury treatment rooms and private alfresco tubs for outdoor soaking and relaxation. There are certainly other spas on the island, but very few of them are as lovely or as well-staffed as this one. There’s a wide range of rejuvenating and healing programs, catering for singles and couples together, and several signature treatments.

Nights Savour

Food and entertainment galore at Nora Beach Resort & Spa’s theme nights.

Food and entertainment galore at Nora Beach Resort & Spa’s theme nights.With its beautiful North Chaweng setting, right towards the end of Samui’s most famous beach, Nora Beach Resort & Spa is home to two extraordinarily vibrant themed nights, hosted by its wonderful restaurant, Prasuthon. Ease back on Tuesdays and Thursdays and let yourself be transported by a rare combination of food and entertainment. Both nights are riveting, just the kind of thing where diners pause, fork in air, mesmerized by what’s going on right in front of their eyes. Both occasions are also a chance to enjoy some of the sumptuous food that Nora Beach offers its guests, whether they're staying in the resort or are visiting from outside. The theme nights are staged in and around the restaurant, which is next to the beach. Sit inside or outside, with views of the sea and the lapping of waves close by.

‘Around Asia’ is the theme for Tuesdays, and features a well-stocked buffet. There’s more than half a dozen starters, and you can choose from savoury salmon, tom yam goong, Vietnamese spring rolls, assorted roast meats and salads with an array of dressings. A live cooking station takes your orders for pad Thai and a whole range of teppanyaki dishes. Watch while dedicated chefs prepare the food before your eyes. Leave room for other yummy options which include steamed fish filets, massaman beef, pork ribs and sautéed mixed vegetables, before finishing off with mini cakes and fruit for dessert.

Thai Recipe

Stir-fried Pork with Red Curry Paste and Yardlong Beans. Moo Pad Prik Tua Fak Yao.

Stir-fried Pork with Red Curry Paste and Yardlong Beans. Moo Pad Prik Tua Fak Yao.Although this dish can be found in every city, for many visitors to Thailand it seems to belong to the countryside; there’s a rustic charm about it, no doubt because of the bright green of the chopped beans. It’s full of flavour, with the red curry giving it a spicy appeal that’ll put you in the mood for a second helping. When making this dish, You can always substitute other kinds of beans, but try the yardlong variety if you can. They are available at every market in Thailand, but if you're in a place with a cold climate, you may have difficulty getting hold of them. They are also known as snake beans, asparagus beans, pea beans, or Chinese long beans. Despite the name, the beans are actually only about half a yard long; it would be more accurate if they were called one-and-a-half-foot-long beans, as in their Latin name – but that would sound all too clumsy. Whatever name you give to them, they’re a good source of protein, vitamin A, iron, and potassium, and even better when it comes to vitamin C, folate, magnesium, and manganese.

The pork that you use should be tender, and the results should not be too spicy, unless you particularly enjoy fiery dishes. The aroma and flavours of the paste makes this dish so tasty, it’s best not to swamp it with spiciness.

The Secret Ingredient

Baitong Restaurant at Banana Fan Sea Resort will have you returning over and over.

Baitong Restaurant at Banana Fan Sea Resort will have you returning over and over.“Great food”, “great staff”, “service from the heart”, “hidden gem” and “we will be back”” are just some of the comments on TripAdvisor about Baitong Restaurant at Banana Sea Fan Resort. Located just south of busy central Chaweng, right on a quiet stretch of the beach, this is the perfect place to eat, drink and relax whilst remaining close to the action.

If wandering along the beach, you will be drawn in by the calm, relaxing atmosphere and the friendly smiles of the staff. If coming from Chaweng Beach Road, you get to wander through the luxuriant gardens down to the terraced, open-air Thai style restaurant with its cooling fans, just above the beach. But the tables on the beach itself are the most popular, the solid wooden furniture and birdcage lamps inviting you to stay for a while. Order a drink and peruse the menu as you sit comfortably cocooned, with the sand between your toes, enjoying the cooling ocean breeze and listening to the gentle lapping of the waves on the shore.

At night, the warm welcoming light from the lamps, candles and moonlight, creates a romantic and tranquil environment, with live music from RJ, a young and extremely talented Filipino guitar player who can play over 90% of given requests! If he can’t play your song today, come back tomorrow and he will have mastered it! He plays every evening, except Wednesdays, from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm.

Treat Time

Trade Wind Restaurant at Samui Palm Beach Resort offers resplendent dishes along with two must-see theme nights.

Trade Wind Restaurant at Samui Palm Beach Resort offers resplendent dishes along with two must-see theme nights.Samui is all about the beaches, and time spent languishing in the heat, but once the sun goes down, the fun continues with evenings that are every bit as good as the days. Head out for dinner, and whether you’re looking for Thai or international food, you’ll find it served up in stunning settings everywhere on the island. But there’s more to evenings out than simply eating. There’s entertainment too, and it’s of the finest calibre. Step into Samui Palm Beach Resort, walk through beautiful gardens and you’ll come to Trade Wind Restaurant, a relaxed open-sided dining spot that welcomes everyone, whether they’re staying at the resort or not. It’s here on a spacious lawn, right next to the beach that you can partake of Trade Wind’s two theme nights. They’re on every week, and attract an appreciative clientele. As the sun sets, people start turning up to enjoy the evening vibe over a cocktail or chilled glass of wine. If you decide to go, all you need do is to phone ahead, as places can be limited. Make sure you arrive at 6:30 pm, which is when the evenings officially start.

On Wednesdays, Trade Wind stages an exceptionally good Thai night. A Filipino duet begins the evening, and is followed by a troupe of Thai dancers who stage some of the country’s best-loved fables, such as the Manorah, a drama that focuses on a mythical half-bird, half-human figure.

The Mighty Mango

The world’s most frequently consumed fruit.

The world’s most frequently consumed fruit.If you're on holiday in Thailand, one of the fruits you'll come across just about everywhere is the mango. With its wonderful taste, even people who generally shy away from eating fruit make a beeline for it. You can both eat it and drink it – everywhere in Thailand it’s available as a shake or a juice, not just as a fruit.

It is considered by many people to be the king of all fruits. In India it’s been part of the national diet for at least 4,000 years. One of the most celebrated mogul emperors, Akbar, is said to have had an orchard with an astonishing 100,000 mango trees, some of which are still going strong. The mango plays a sacred role in India; it’s also a symbol of love and some even believe the fruit is lucky and can grant wishes. The leaves of the tree are used in weddings to ensure that the couple have many children.

The mango is widely lauded for its rich, sweet yet slightly sour taste. It’s incredibly popular in many countries, and there are 20 million metric tons of mangoes grown throughout the tropical and sub-tropical world, with the leading producer being India. Commentators have made the observation that mangoes are to India what olives are to Greece.

Dishes that Delight

RockPool at Kanda Residences offers Mediterranean-style food and much more besides.

RockPool at Kanda Residences offers Mediterranean-style food and much more besides.Guests love RockPool. It has a feel to it that’s decidedly romantic. But no matter whether you come here with your partner or with friends and family, it’s an extraordinarily beautiful place, one that a lot of visitors to Samui don't even know about. Perhaps very familiar with the long sweep of sands that comprise Chaweng, they don't realise that just a couple of kilometres to the north, the coastline turns wilder, more rugged and is utterly deserted. But it’s every bit as scenic. It’s right here that RockPool is situated, part of Kanda Residences.

When you arrive at Kanda, you're whisked down towards the sea along small lanes reminiscent of the Mediterranean, before you arrive at RockPool itself. The restaurant features extensive outside decking, as well as a section under a giant canvas roof. Everywhere has a wide-open, fresh-air feel to it. The RockPool menu offers a wide range of fare, all of which is highly tasty and beautifully presented. RockPool is run by talented chef Lisa Lang, who grew up in South Africa, and who has a cosmopolitan approach when it comes to food and drink. The restaurant menu offers a selection of wonderfully tempting dishes. You're bound to find a good few that you like, so choosing may not be easy! Take your time and enjoy a cocktail. There are pizzas from the wood-fired oven, which you can see from the decking. And from the main kitchen, delicious starters and mains offering Southeast Asian and European flavours. All this is thanks to Lisa using the very freshest of herbs (some of which are grown in the RockPool garden), vegetables and fruit along with seafood that, wherever possible, is locally caught and goes from net to plate in a short space of time.

The Quiet Revolution

Vegetarian food on Samui has really taken off over the last few years.

 Vegetarian food on Samui has really taken off over the last few years.Not so long ago it was all a bit of a muddle. Back home, in the West, it was different. People were growing up along with a healthy lifestyle. But here, in Thailand, fast food in all its greasy shapes and sizes was the tops. The big golden arches held a treat that all kids longed for. Sugar and MSG were a part of every Thai recipe. And even though they told you that they had vegetarian food on the menu, all they really meant was vegetables.

Even that old fall-back, Indian food, wasn’t quite to be trusted. Certainly there was a whole boatload of veggie dishes on the menu. But, like the Thai food, it was how it was all put together that was a bit iffy – there’s no point in eating a vegetable dish if it’s been cooked in beef or chicken stock, or fried in the same pan that’s just made a pork curry.

Certainly there were places which were vegetarian in the true sense of the word. Many of the top hotels had a small dedicated vegetarian section on their menus, for example – five or six dishes especially for ‘minorities’. And there were even a couple of New Age retreats which served live sprouting bean shoots between seminars on realigning chakras, renovating crystals or getting to grips with a colon hosepipe. But actual vegetarian restaurants? Places that served whole food?

Today there are more than 50 ‘vegetarian’ restaurants on Samui. It amounts to a quiet-yet-fierce revolution. Nearly all of them are small, independent little eateries, offering wholefood, organically produced items (many from local sources) or simply running a menu of ‘healthy’ dishes. Such restaurants range in outlook from ‘honest, healthy food made from organic produce’ right through to ‘cuisine’ that’s been shaped by an esoteric and alternative outlook on the world. Some menus offer dishes which include fish and white meat. Others find ways of being strictly vegan.

Make it, Drink it, Fix it!

Whatever you do with coffee, Boncafé is here to help you!

Whatever you do with coffee, Boncafé is here to help you!There are just two sorts of coffee drinkers – people who can drink instant coffee, and people who need the real thing. In fact I’ve heard it said that instant coffee drinkers don’t like the taste of coffee; they just like a coffee flavour. If you’re a coffee fan, you’ll understand this. It means not just real coffee, but proper coffee machines, too. And that’s where the name Boncafé comes into the picture.

There’s a good chance that you’ve never heard of this name before. But it’s been prominent in the Asia-Pacific region for a long time now. Boncafé began in Singapore, founded by the Swiss Werner Huber, way back at the start of the ’60s. The company was successful, expanding into Malaysia, then Hong Kong and Australia before eventually establishing a factory in Thailand, in 1993. And in the time since then, Boncafé has become Thailand’s biggest coffee company, with the proud slogan, ‘The One Stop Coffee Solution’.

In fact, you’ve probably been drinking one of the many blends of Boncafé without even knowing it: the vast majority of resorts and restaurants here use not only use Boncafé coffee but also Boncafé equipment, too. It’s not only very good coffee, but there’s the big advantage of on-site maintenance service to go with it, too. And this is the clincher that makes all but the trendiest of gourmet restaurants go for Boncafé.

The Village, the Walk, and Krua

Strolling in Fisherman’s Village has to include Krua Bophut!

Strolling in Fisherman’s Village has to include Krua Bophut!It’s a very long time since Fisherman’s Village had any fishermen in it. Now it’s a glittering walk of endless distraction and delight. It’s probably the hottest bit of real estate outside of Chaweng. It’s got everything from baubles to beads and from pubs to fine dining. And when it comes to Thai fine-dining there’s one place not to be missed – it’s almost right at the end of the road so keep on strolling. And when you get to the discreet and very un-showy sign that says Krua Bophut, walk right in.

In actual fact it’s a lot easier to find than it used to be; it depends on which direction you’re coming from. But if you come into Fisherman’s Village via the big car park at The Wharf, then it’s just about the first thing you’ll see, beachside, as you exit to the right towards the bright lights of the main strip.

I could state the obvious and tell you that it’s got a delightful inside room, an outer terrace and tables right on the sand itself. Or say that the food is simply fabulous and the service is first-rate – you’ll soon find that out for yourself anyway. But I can also tell you a secret that few people know, and this is what puts it streets ahead of all the others.

Snap, Eat, Send!

Why people post so many food pictures on social media!

Why people post so many food pictures on social media!In 1993, the internet went public, and two years later, the first web browser, Netscape, appeared. In 1995, cell phones had shrunk and started to be affordable. Two years later, in 1997, Nokia came up with a built-in keyboard and SMS took off – later to become known as texting. The following year the World Wide Web took the world by storm. And a couple of years after that, Samsung put a digital camera in a cell phone. Blackberry produced a phone with a camera and web browser in 2003. And in 2004, Facebook arrived.

At each of these stages there were a few years of overlapped-dithering, while people found their feet. The teenage ‘web page’ (featuring ‘my mom’, ‘my dad’, ‘my dog’ and ‘my likes and dislikes’) slowly morphed into the Facebook page, containing exactly the same sort of aimless content. But the huge difference was that you could instantly change or add to your Facebook page with your phone. It was immediate and painless to update it, and you could do it on the move, anywhere, anytime.

And, after that revolutionary decade in the early ’90s, a new society and a different generation had emerged. Now you didn’t need to be accepted by a publisher to write a story or even a book. Now it wasn’t necessary for a bunch of old men a thousand miles away to approve your photos or not. Anyone, regardless of ability or talent (or despite the fact they actually had nothing to say!) could talk to the world. What you wrote, and the photos you took, went around the globe to a potential audience of millions. And that included photos of food – millions of them.

Wild about Wagyu?

The what, where, when and why.

 The what, where, when and why.Even the keenest carnivores with the heartiest of appetites may scratch their heads when it comes to really defining Wagyu. It’s beef from a small area somewhere in Japan, right? The best kind? The cattle are fed on beer and get massages? Yes, yes and yes. Well, sort of. Here’s the lowdown on Wagyu, what it is, isn’t and what it might be.

First off, misconceptions. Some people believe Wagyu to be a province in Japan where all Wagyu originates. Definitely not true. ‘Wa’ is simply a word in Japanese for ‘Japanese’ while ‘gyu’ means ‘cow’. Japanese cow. So technically it could mean any cattle raised anywhere in Japan. However, in practice it refers to a special breed of cattle. Not just in Japan. It can equally refer to such cattle that have been bred elsewhere in the world.

For example, in the mid-70’s, four prime specimens from Japan were exported to the USA, where they began North America’s own mighty Wagyu stock. Wagyu is similarly now found is such far-apart places as Britain and Australia. And what about Kobe beef? Is this synonymous with Wagyu? Not exactly. Kobe beef is comprised of a special, highly-prized strain of Wagyu, which is raised in Kobe’s surrounding areas.

But back to Wagyu itself. Many people think that Wagyu is an original Japanese breed. They definitely aren’t. Their origins are part native Asian, part British and part European. The first Wagyu were bred in Japan’s Shikoku region in isolated pockets - it’s very mountainous there, and cattle were slow to migrate to other areas. For a while the herds were crossbred with over half a dozen other strains, but then it was noticed that the herds were showing too many variations. So in the early 1900’s, the herds were closed once again to outside bloodlines. Since that time, the breed has been monitored closely by the Japanese Wagyu Registry which meticulously carefully maintains records on all cattle. Purity is everything.

Japan sees Wagyu as a national heritage; the world sees it as its best beef globally. The flavour, tenderness and texture are unparalleled anywhere. Many people therefore consider it to have a lower fat content than most types of beef. The complete opposite is true however: Wagyu is very fatty; in fact it’s more fat than meat. It’s a particular kind of fat that dissolves at a low melting point, contains all the flavour of the meat and is mono-unsaturated.


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