Samui Wining & Dining
Tempting Trio

Sabienglae’s three restaurants all offer authentic Thai food at great prices.

Sabienglae’s three restaurants all offer authentic Thai food at great prices.The old ways often work best – traditional cuisine is the way forward for the three restaurants simply and collectively known as Sabienglae. They're the brainchild of Khun Amnart Chotchoung, a quietly-spoken figure who comes from the most traditional part of Samui, Ban Taling Ngam on the island’s west coast. He grew up with fishing as the area’s main industry, and says that watching the daily catch being unloaded put him in mind of opening a restaurant. He started with seven tables, wondering if he would break even. His wife, Khun Ying, was the chef – an expert one – and the diners found themselves in good hands. They loved her food, and still do. The couple had to add progressively more tables and chairs as word-of-mouth drove the business forward at a pace that surprised them. A decade later, those seven chairs have become 800, and range across three separate restaurants. But Khun Amnart and Khun Ying still hold to very traditional values and cuisine – this approach they say is largely responsible for their success.

The Sabienglae restaurants are very well-known on the island, but if you're on holiday you may not be familiar with them. If you're at The Wharf in Fisherman’s Village, Bophut, then you'll come across Sabienglae right on the promenade, housed in a very contemporary building. The original restaurant is in Lamai (just past Hinta-Hinyai on the ring-road heading toward Nathon) in a more rustic looking setting. Both command beautiful sea views. The remaining restaurant is in Chaweng, just off the ring-road, south of Tesco-Lotus. They all have similar menus and the same excellent prices. The opening hours are generously long, and each restaurant operates seven days a week. The Wharf and Chaweng restaurants are open from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm, while the Lamai branch operates from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm.

Browse the menu at any of the restaurants and you'll come across many an item that’ll take your fancy. Most dishes are photographed, allowing you to get an idea of what you're ordering if you're a newbie to Thai cuisine. Ask for spices to be toned up or down, depending on your tastes.

Seafood of many different kinds features at Sabienglae, and you can feast on lobster, crab, mussels, sea bass, snapper, mantis shrimp, river prawns, blue crab and so on. Each restaurant has water tanks that hold live fish, but that’s not all; restaurant teams go out daily to scour markets round the Sabienglae’s three restaurants all offer authentic Thai food at great prices.island and also order seafood from places like Phuket and Vietnam.

Start perhaps with the highly-recommended Sabienglae Signature Salad, with options of seafood, shrimp and squid, and then follow with a steamed white snapper with chilli and lemon sauce or one with garlic and pepper. Equally recommended are popular dishes like steamed prawn with glass noodles, octopus and coconut, deep-fried sun-dried squid or herbed crab in a creamy coconut soup. If you're not a fish lover, then there are plenty of meat dishes on offer, and, yes, Sabienglae is also completely at home when it comes to making tasty vegetarian dishes. If you really aren’t into Thai food at all, then rest assured there’s a western-style section on the menu, too. You can opt for a simple hamburger, a delicious pepper steak or fish and chips, to give a few examples.

A range of very drinkable wines adds to the joy of eating at Sabienglae, and there are naturally all kinds of soft drinks, shakes and beer. Twice a day Khun Amnart orders whole coconuts, and these are grown right here on Samui. He uses them in many dishes and of course in massaman and penang curries.Sabienglae’s three restaurants all offer authentic Thai food at great prices. But you can even drink their contents fresh – an entire coconut is brought to your table. Sip through a straw then delve deep with a spoon to get all the goodness. You'll find, last but not least, a select range of hot and cold Italian coffees to finish off your meal.

And, by the way, you can also enjoy locally-made ice-creams that come in a highly tempting range, including Madagascar vanilla, black chocolate and red chilli or tiramisu. There are plenty of more traditional choices too, along with fruit sorbets.

With not just the one, but three different venues, Sabienglae awaits discovery, and offers great value food in convivial surroundings. The trio of restaurants has more than stood the test of time, and emerged as a dependably delicious source of Thai cuisine with a vast choice of possibilities for lunch or dinner – there are some 250 dishes on the menu at each location, all affordably priced.


Dimitri Waring


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