Samui Wining & Dining
Drip Drop

Get ready to get wet … and be fed!

 Get ready to get wet … and be fed!Browse through our newspaper and you'll see the plethora of food that's on offer; the briefest of reads will show you the massive diversity that's to be had. As we enter rainy season you may find yourself with time on your hands, due to downpours. While you're waiting for the sun to come out again, what better chance than to avail yourself of some of the fine fare that’s on offer?

Whether you chance upon a small eatery serving a basic menu where you can satisfy your hunger with an authentic curry, or have booked yourself into a fine dining restaurant for Wagyu steak and a noble French wine, you'll be surprised at the quality of what’s on offer, and beyond that the sheer friendliness of the people here.

Naturally, Samui being a Thai island, the majority of establishments serve Thai food – just about every dish from every region in the country. But there’s plenty more besides, with cuisines that come from every continent. You'll find Italian, French, Greek, Turkish, Scandinavian and Russian cuisine from Europe; Brazilian, Tex-Mex, Mexican and international from the Americas; Indian, Chinese, Japanese and Korean from Asia. And that’s by no means an exhaustive list.

Whatever you choose to eat, Samui is a wonderful place to enjoy food of all different kinds and, adding to the pleasure, you’ll probably experience eating a under the shade of palm trees with fantastic sea views. Enjoy!

The Wow Factor

Experience is everything at Krua Bophut restaurant.!

Experience is everything at Krua Bophut restaurant.Prepare to be blown away by this restaurant! I had three courses and actually said ‘wow’ out loud after each one! The amazing subtle flavours, textures and presentation of the food, the perfect service along with the naturally warm ambience created within the restaurant, all mean I will definitely be going back and taking some friends along to share the amazing experience.

With easy parking at Fisherman’s Wharf Shopping Plaza, just a two-minute stroll away, it’s an ‘easy to find’ venue. As you wander towards the heart of Fisherman’s Village from The Wharf, it’s the first restaurant you come to on the beach side. Outside is a display of the days locally caught fresh seafood, giving you an idea of what you could have for lunch or dinner. This ever-popular, traditional Thai restaurant, right by the sea, really does deserve its great reputation.

As soon as you enter the restaurant, you begin to relax. Not only do they serve authentic, aromatic and tasty Thai food, but the building is in the traditional Thai style, with an old-world charm and plenty of atmosphere. You have the choice to sit outside by the beach under the trees and stars, watching the yachts gently bobbing on the water, in the garden courtyard or inside where you will find high ceilings, tiled floors, quirky furniture, antiques and the pleasant comfort of gentle air conditioning. Even when busy, the restaurant area feels very spacious and welcoming. Soft, low-volume background music is played, allowing your conversation to flow naturally and easily. In the evening, there is low-level lighting and candlelight on your table, adding to the atmosphere of classic elegance and sophisticated romance.

Thai Recipe

Goong Ob Woonsen or Clay Pot Shrimp and Noodles.

Goong Ob Woonsen or Clay Pot Shrimp and Noodles.Everybody who’s into cooking seems to love the idea of cooking Thai. But perhaps rather oddly, few cooks outside Thailand want to go to the effort of buying a Thai-style clay pot. ‘Can I make do with something else?’ is the question at the back of their minds. Yes, is the answer, sure you can, and the recipe you'll find below is easy to adapt.

That said, compromising isn’t always your best friend. You can miss out on a lot by skimping. If you make the effort to go and buy a clay pot, preferably one that sits atop a charcoal burner, then you'll be cooking in a very traditional style.

In goong ob woonsen, the flavours come in layers of their own, starting with pork, then that time-honoured combination of ginger and black pepper along with yummy noodles and prawns, finally rounded off with plenty of vegetables, all crisp and succulent. By the way, if you can’t find coriander roots, you can always use stems instead, though the resulting flavour may be a little different.

Many pots are quite small, and may only hold half of the recipe, so you may be restricted by the size of your container. However, that said, when it comes to shrimp, you can use as many as you like and cut back on other ingredients. The bacon isn’t entirely necessary, so don’t worry if you don’t have any. If you don’t want to invest in a Thai-style clay pot, then you can use a covered stoneware casserole dish and place in the oven for the same time, at around 375 degrees. It should turn out just fine. A Spanish or Catalan glazed clay pot with lid will be an equally good alternative. Please don’t even ask about microwave possibilities – we’re trying to keep things traditional here!

Cheeses Pleases

A look at Authentic Cheeses Samui and how it came about.

A look at Authentic Cheeses Samui and how it came about.Tell me if this is true for you. Every time you go on holiday you think about ways you could live there. You know what I mean – holidays are wonderful, so much so that you imagine staying forever. You keep an eye out for things you could do. A business you could start, a job you might be qualified to do. Whether it’s sunshine or snow slopes, don’t you always wonder how you could stay there forever? If you are more mature, you’re thinking about retirement. But, for the rest of us, we’re on the lookout for a way to get to our own personal paradise and make a living. True or not?

And this was exactly what happened to Pascal Silvestre. Pascal is French. And he’d been coming to Samui on holiday over an eight-year period – he’d fallen in love with the island. Pascal was born in Tours, and had settled into a specialised occupation, working in a factory that made machinery and equipment for making cheese – he actually worked at this for 27 years. Today, this has all become a very specialised and controlled science, and a long way from the olden days when it was all a bit of an interesting adventure, and great fun seeing if everything came out as you expected – or not!

Now you need to measure precise amounts, be able to control the temperature and acidy of the ingredients used, the times of the various processes, and be able to measure and adjust each or all of these things to produce consistently repeatable results. Cheese making has become something of a speciality, governed by a precisely sterile working environment and a whole bunch of international standards, not to mention laws related to hygiene. And so it’s not surprising that specialised cheese-making equipment has been developed to conform to all these requirements. And Pascal made equipment for the making of cheese.

Chopstick Challenge

Chopsticks embrace culture, cuisine and etiquette.

Chopsticks embrace culture, cuisine and etiquette.“This is my favourite thing in the whole world,” announced a child at the table, pointing to a paper wrapper. It didn’t look much. We were in a Japanese restaurant in Bangkok, surrounded by imported decor from the home country: all sorts of things to look at from Hokusai prints, to carp flags and sake labels. The tiny paper seemed, in comparison, unremarkable. It was the type used to sheathe the disposable chopsticks used in the restaurant. It was printed with a delicate pink design of sakura, cherry blossoms. Simple, but beautiful. Yet so disarmingly ordinary – the world population of chopstick wrappers must be in the millions – that you’d be forgiven for overlooking it. Such wrappers are part of a general chopstick culture that embraces China, Japan and Korea, and which dates back many years.

It’s not known which tribe first got into the habit of using chopsticks, but the practice of using ‘zhu’ as they were originally known, goes back over 4,000 years. Chopsticks back then were first used to stir soups and catch individual pieces in the broth. Later people started to eat with them. Their appearance in Chinese history is definitely one of the signs of civilization; before chopsticks were invented, people used to eat with their hands, making meals an extremely messy procedure.

Nobody questions the existence of chopsticks. Just from their form you can tell that they've always been the simplest and most effective of tools when it comes to seizing morsels of food. But simple as they may be, chopsticks are quite hard to use correctly, and it takes time to become agile with them. And then there’s the etiquette that goes with them.

Leap-Frogging the Competition

Forging forward with new conviction at Dr Frogs Italian Bar & Grill.

Forging forward with new conviction at Dr Frogs Italian Bar & Grill.Oysters with Bloody Mary shots, Filet Steak with Jumbo Prawns, Barracuda Balls with Spicy Tomato Sauce, the Thailander cocktail, Chablis by the glass, Monday night saxophone vibes with Nok and 9:00 am yoga classes with a perfect sea view.

Dr Frogs is definitely not resting on the laurels of their long-term success. With an energetic restaurant manager who has a passion for exceptional hospitality and customer service, the restaurant continues to forge ahead. Along with the highly talented eight-year resident Italian chef, Massimo Mariani, changes are being made. Situated on the cliffs of Chaweng Noi, overlooking the Gulf of Thailand, the ever-popular Dr Frogs commands breath-taking views of the panoramic coastline and the turquoise blue ocean below. The restaurant consists of two covered, open-sided balconies with wooden decking and fans throughout. The gorgeous view and welcome ocean breeze throughout the entire dining area make it an idyllic spot to sample some of their renowned authentic Italian or Thai cuisine.

The restaurant opens its doors every day at 7:00 am for gourmet breakfasts, with healthy and nourishing choices. Try Dr Frogs signature breakfast; poached eggs with asparagus, olives, feta cheese, rocket, polenta and toast. Or design your own combination. The welcome variety of choice includes; feta or cream cheese, smoked salmon, steamed spinach, sausages and bacon, as well as cereals, fruit salads, pancakes, Thai breakfast favourites, teas and real Italian Vittoria coffee. Seek out the healthy drinks menu, offering delights such as Green Pina Colada Smoothie, Energy Booster or Recovery Angel!

Food Fans

Excellent food, setting and service make Baitong Restaurant at Banana Fan Sea Resort Koh Samui a place to return to.

Excellent food, setting and service make Baitong Restaurant at Banana Fan Sea Resort Koh Samui a place to return to.Journey down Chaweng’s beach road – party central for some – to discover one of the island’s most sought after places to eat, Baitong Restaurant, and experience for yourself just why so many people like to dine in the complete harmony of this unexpected beachside idyll. Despite being so centrally located, the restaurant turns out to be a complete oasis. Set in the gardens of Banana Fan Sea Resort Koh Samui – you'll need to walk down beautiful paths that take you towards the sea – it’s a restaurant that ticks all the boxes. Reasons why you should go? There are plenty.

The Setting

If you enjoy the soundtracks and backdrops of nature, you're in the right place. Dine directly on the beach and you'll hear the lapping of the waves close by. And if you approach the restaurant from the beach, you'll hardly see the restaurant due to the palm trees. Part of the fun is the extremely languid setting – whether you're on the beach itself, the restaurant terrace or the open-sided dining room, it’s a bit like being in a cocoon. Sit back and enjoy being in a tropical setting that’ll delight all your senses.

It’s a Wrap!

Flip through Thai cookery books and you'll find plenty recipes that call for leaves.

 Flip through Thai cookery books and you'll find plenty recipes that call for leaves.Thai cuisine boasts quite a few traditional delights that don’t require serving up on dishes. Instead, they come in their own biodegradable containers – leaves. What could be better? No washing up and no pollution. It sounds like a scenario for the future, but for Thai people it’s more an age-old tradition, and one that makes even more sense in today’s age of plastic bags, polystyrene boxes and throw-away cutlery. In fact, for hundreds of years in Thailand, as in most countries, everything was bio-degradable. Sadly, this tradition has been mostly lost, but it certainly lives on in a gamut of wrapped ‘dishes’ that are healthy, delicious and which leave no trace at all.

Walk through any market, temple fair or attend any social gathering where food carts are present and you're almost sure to come across ‘khanom jah’. It might not look much, since all that you see are long flattish parcels of leaves. But open up any of the parcels and you'll find inside a delicious sweet. A bit of caution, though: in many cases khanom jah isn’t prepared in quite the original way. Some cheating may have been going on; instead of tying the ends together, metal staples are often used. Not so good for the teeth so discard them and scoop out the contents of the leaves and enjoy. But don't eat the leaves – they're for wrapping purposes only.

How did this leaf cuisine start? Nobody now knows, but the habit of chewing on parcels of food wrapped in leaves is thousands of years old, and you'll still find it’s done today. On the winding roads of southwest China, crossing into Laos and finally Burma, it’s still a popular tradition for drivers, travellers and merchants to chew on leaves. After all, one of the main products being traded is tea.

Out of Sight

But not out of mind – Trade Wind, a quality restaurant right on the beach at Bophut’s Samui Palm Beach Resort.

But not out of mind – Trade Wind, a quality restaurant right on the beach at Bophut’s Samui Palm Beach Resort.It’s been said before. But it’s still true – for every restaurant you can see out on the road there are another 100 hidden away. Of course, that’s not to say all of them are good. Certainly, for each good one there are many that are merely average. But one of the best things about this publication is that we find the good ones for you! And one of these is certainly Trade Wind restaurant.

Trade Wind is the signature restaurant of Samui Palm Beach Resort, situated not so far from Fisherman’s Village, running in a huge plot of landscaped grandeur between the ring-road and the beach. There are some very fine resorts along this stretch: they were all built back in the days when effortless landscaping was more important than how many bungalows you could cram into your plot. And Samui Palm Beach is a prime example of this sort of 5-star opulence.

You’ll get an idea of this when you navigate your way to its entrance on the ring-road – the big white boundary wall goes on forever, almost 300 metres! The car park inside, and the reception block, is misleading: you really get no idea of just how big it is here until you begin to make your way through and towards the beach. And on the way you’ll be surprised to see the sweeping curves of one of the biggest swimming pools in Thailand!

Bean a While

Boncafe turns 26, and celebrates another milestone in coffee culture.

 Boncafe turns 26, and celebrates another milestone in coffee culture.In the west, coffee has been in fashion for some four hundred years, whilst in Thailand, though the country has its own coffee plantations, coffee is a relative newcomer to the beverage scene. It’s thanks to a handful of entrepreneurs, such as Boncafe, that you can now enjoy your cup of Joe just about anywhere in the nation, and of course, on Samui, too. Even a few years back, Samui seemed to be the last place on earth to go for a coffee. If you ordered one, you'd probably end up with a half-filled plastic cup of hot water and be given grim-looking sachets containing instant coffee, creamer and sugar. That was the way to go back then. Boncafe is largely responsible for changing that.

These days, on Samui as elsewhere in Thailand, you'll see that coffee culture has emerged with a vengeance. Everywhere there are sleek cafés, gleaming chrome machines and staff who know all about coffee. If you're reading this in a coffee shop then it’s quite likely that Boncafe provided the coffee machine on the counter, regularly service it, provide the beans to go inside and trained the barista. And on top of that they may even have given practical advice on the coffee shop itself – decor, layout, accessories and so on. Even if you never see the Boncafe logo, you've probably drunk some of their coffee as it’s so widespread here on Samui. They're acknowledged experts, and credit goes to them for promoting coffee culture everywhere. They're seasoned hands when it comes to this, and have been in business for just over a quarter of a century; November 22nd turns out to be Boncafe’s 26th birthday.

Japanese Joys

From fine dining to humble eats, Japanese cuisine is alive and well on Samui.

From fine dining to humble eats, Japanese cuisine is alive and well on Samui.Red lanterns line a lane. Women with equally red umbrellas in ornate kimonos side-step formally dressed salarymen. Everyone wears an inscrutable expression. Japan, eh?

Japan gets a bad rap when it comes to clichés and false assumptions. Fortunately, as more and more people go there, the truth spreads. Always a place for fun, neither the country nor its population cares much for formality outside prescribed situations. Japan is particularly laid-back when it comes to eating and drinking (especially the latter). But the prejudices endure and impact Japanese cuisine when it’s transplanted overseas. Basically put: people are a tad nervous about eating Japanese. They shouldn’t be. It’s not mired in elaborate rituals unless you're in a very elegant restaurant or it’s a particularly special occasion. Take a look at the fundamentals of the cuisine in its most traditional sense, and you'll see it’s very simple: rice is served with miso soup or a handful of other dishes. Side dishes tend to be pickled vegetables, or ingredients cooked in broth.

Seafood abounds, due to Japan being a series of islands. It’s often grilled, but raw is highly popular - sashimi or in sushi. And since most of Japan has a rigorous winter, ingredients are seasonal, and there’s a big emphasis on freshness.

Going Native

Joining the locals at Pa Maitree Khanom Jeen.

Joining the locals at Pa Maitree Khanom Jeen.Red lanterns line a lane. Women with equally red umbrellas in ornate kimonos side-step formally dressed salarymen. Everyone wears an inscrutable expression. Japan, eh?

Stepping into Pa Maitree Khanom Jeen is always a rewarding experience. You're about to savour some of Thailand’s most traditional food, albeit in an extremely modern setting. The eatery also doubles as the owner’s house, so there's something quite homely about coming here. The restaurant is run by Khun Duangsuda Baimuang, who is more usually known as Khun Ma’am. She is very friendly and professional and also turns out to be very good at speaking English. She puts this down to having worked for some years as a hotel receptionist at a local resort.

This is definitely a family business; Khun Ma’am’s mother and grandmother established the restaurant 26 years ago. It started off very humbly, and has always been in exactly the same place, but some years ago the entire house was given a total makeover, so many people think Pa Maitree Khanom Jeen is a relative newcomer.

To say the food is thoroughly tried and tested is a bit of an understatement. The recipes themselves are, as we've said, traditional, but the exact preparation methods and ingredients have been in Khun Ma’am’s family for generations. The results are good enough to draw people not just from round the island, but much further afield; Pa Maitree Khanom Jeen is pretty well-known even in Bangkok, ever since a well-known Thai actor chanced upon the place and spread the word. The family even appeared on a television show, demonstrating the noodle dishes that they make.

Providing Mythinformation

It’s time to de-bunk a few wine myths.

 It’s time to de-bunk a few wine myths.One of the curious, and perhaps frustrating, things about wine is that some of the conventional wisdom about its appreciation falls into the realm of misconception or myth. Even today, wine is shrouded in mystery, and many wine charlatans are still getting away with murder. It can be challenging for the newcomer, and sometimes even the expert, to sort it all out. Quite why wine attracts so much misdirection and fraudulent characters only too willing to try to take advantage of wine drinkers, goodness only knows.

My advice is to believe your own palate and have the courage of your own convictions. You can listen to all the sales pitches and hype you like, but remember, talk is cheap. Any highly recommended wine should taste great – it’s as simple as that. You know as much as anyone what tastes good to you, so don’t be bullied or swayed by persuasive arguments from the so-called experts. Some of them may not be as expert as they claim. And many, more than likely, have ulterior motives. They unashamedly take full advantage of the fact that wine appreciation is highly subjective.

To help you make up your own mind about the wines you want to drink, here are some of the infuriating wine myths that stubbornly refuse to die:

1. ‘The more a wine costs, the better it is’. While there may be some relationships between cost and value, exceptions abound ... thank goodness!

2. ‘Old vines make better wines’. Occasionally ancient vineyards make delicious, concentrated wines. But, by and large, old vines generally produce fewer and fewer grapes until the grower eventually rips them out.

Halal on Samui

Halal food isn’t always easy to find, just ask where to go.

 Flip through Thai cookery books and you'll find plenty recipes that call for leaves.Samui can, once again, say it offers an extraordinary variety of different cuisines, cooking traditions and foodstuffs. There’s seemingly no end to all the diversity, and most visitors to the island are first surprised and then very satisfied to find out just how much is on offer here when it comes to food and drink.

An increasing demand is being seen across all of Thailand for Halal food, simply because there are so many Muslim visitors now choosing to come here on vacation. The government estimates the Halal food industry is already worth billions of baht every year, and seeks to spotlight how the nation is becoming ever more Halal-friendly to its visitors.

Halal foodstuffs in Thailand are well-regulated, and increasingly producers are keen to get Halal certification. At the turn of this century years there were only 500 food plants that had Halal certification. That number has grown exponentially; now it’s over 6,000.

There’s always been Halal food in Thailand, since the nation is already home to a very sizeable Muslim population. Always considered to be Buddhist, Thailand is at least 5% Muslim, so Halal food is part and parcel of the culture here. Samui is of course no different. It too has many Muslims, and even a Muslim fishing village, in Ban Hua Thanon. This is all good news if you're in search of a Halal restaurant here.


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