Samui Wining & Dining
On a Theme

Every evening sees something special at Chaweng Noi’s Impiana Resort.


16You are spoiled. That’s what you are. Completely spoiled. There have probably never been so many spoiled people all together in one place before! But I’m not talking about fits of pique or tantrums (although now and then folks have been seen to stamp their feet in glee). No, what I’m on about is the sheer number of excellent eateries on Samui. There’re probably more quality restaurants per square metre here than anywhere else on Earth. And the problem with this is that you’re spoiled – for choice!


Along with this come two more problems. The first is that 90% of these desirable diners are not out in plain view. You have to know where to look. And the other one is that prices vary. Alas, of late, wallets have become lighter and understandably many people are cautious when it comes to cost. But there’s one place that has not one but two first-rate restaurants. They have a different dining option and format every night; most of them buffet-style all-you-can-eat. The pricing of these is more than just reasonable. And not only that but you don’t have to worry about where it is or how to get there either – they run a free shuttle service from nearby Chaweng. The only other thing you need to know is the name. It’s Impiana Resort Chaweng Noi.


Chaweng Noi is just around the corner from the main arc of Chaweng Beach, just a few minutes by road. ‘Impiana’ is a gentile and pleasant resort, terraced down the rocky cliffside in layers. Unlike some of the confusingly-huge resorts that you’ll come across, the layout is direct and the first thing that you’ll see after coming through the open-ended reception area is the restaurant. Well, both restaurants actually, as the designers have taken advantage of the step-down to combine both eateries in a breezy two-floor block, one above the other, right alongside the infinity pool and overlooking the beach.


The top floor is Tamarind Bar & Lounge, with a terrace that commands a sweeping sea view. But drop down the steps and you’ll find yourself in the lazy luxury of Sabai Beach Restaurant; a broad and shady open-sided inner ‘room’ with an outer terrace perched above the sand. And, in truly tropical style, as the sun begins to set, the immaculately-set tables also appear on the beach. One of the attractions here is that you can opt to perch regally, or wiggle your toes in the sand, as the fancy takes you.


The management team at Impiana has a policy of offering some very keenly-pitched ‘specials’. But they’re also on the ball when it comes to updating these or offering new inducements. Every two months the dining themes will change a little, perhaps featuring a ‘Polynesian Evening’ or a Mexican theme. Not only is the aim to provide an affordable variety but also to present this impeccably and without compromising the high standard of service which regulars here have come to take for granted. And to give you some idea of the range of cuisines that are on offer, and the exceptional pricing, here’s an outline of what you can expect when you go to dine at ‘Sabai’.


Monday and Friday evenings feature a daring variation on a familiar theme. Thailand is noted for its ‘street cuisine’ and you’ll find stalls everywhere; in shop doorways and on street corners. But what they’ve done at Impiana is to take a range of the most popular offerings and re-present them. Chaweng Hawker Night sees the traditional pad Thai and noodle soups, the salt-grilled fish, the honey-roast chicken skewers and stuffed banana leaves, but all made with prime ingredients and served up in a gourmet environment in a buffet-style format. And the cost? Just 500 baht per head.


On Tuesdays, you can enjoy a repast fit for a king when you sit-in at the Royal Thai Culinary Night. In bygone times, the Royal Palace jealously guarded its chefs and their recipes but over the years many of these regal dishes have filtered into the public domain. And you can expect the same lavish attention to detail and decoration in the presentation that is traditional with this type of cuisine. Additionally you’ll be able to enjoy some classical Thai music played on the khim (a kind of zither played with bamboo sticks). Cost per head, 500 baht again.


‘Cosmopolitan’ sums up the flavour of each Wednesday, as it’s Barbecue Cajun Night. Help yourself to as much as you’d like of the piquant gumbo and jambalaya, dipping into the oyster dressing as you get to grips with the stuffed crab or crayfish salad. Seafood is plentiful on Samui and this is a refreshing variation in the way that it’s offered. There’re a fascinating variety of dips, and plain and spicy salads abound. And the cost per head for this one is a very reasonable 650 baht.


Coming closer to home, every Thursday is Sumatra Island Night. The Indonesians enjoy a cuisine that’s not unlike Thailand in that everything comes with rice and they like it spicy! Fortunately the items here are ‘tuned’ down a touch and will appeal to all palates. There’s a Middle-Eastern and Indian bias to the dishes and you’ll find a selection of offerings that include the famous padang curry, the special fried rice of nasi goreng and the national dish of gado-gado – a succulent vegetable salad with peanut dressing. And the price? Just 550 baht per head.


Saturdays see the Italian bias of Pasta and Noodle Night. And there’ll be no surprises here as there’s all the pizza, lasagne, bolognaise, tagliatelle, pesto and mozzarella you can handle! As usual, there are plenty of seafood items to complement these and also a splendid tiramisu to end with. Cost per head, 490 baht.


As if this wasn’t already alluring enough, there’s also an unheard of ‘all-day happy-hour’ with cocktails and local beers on a constant ‘buy one, get one free’ basis. And every month sees a new promotion, sometimes an alco-treat with wines or cocktails on offer or a ‘chef’s special’ at an attractive discount.


If the definition of ‘spoiled’ is that you are pampered and have your every (culinary) whim indulged then there’s no two ways about it. You’ll be spoiled shamelessly at Impiana Resort, Chaweng Noi.


Rob De Wet


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