Samui Wining & Dining
Master Class

This month’s featured Thai cooking class turns into a welcome excursion
at Lamai’s Buddy Oriental Beach Resort.


2You’ve finally arrived on Samui and collapsed gratefully at the edge of the pool. That’s where you’ll stay for the first couple of days, only venturing out for a walk and to explore on, perhaps, the second evening. After the jet-lag’s gone then it’s a day-trip or two to get the feel of the island. But by the time the second week comes around, it’s back to the pool again. By this time, you’re half-way through your stay and becoming restless. You don’t really feel like jaunting out again for a whole day, but could do with a change. A change of scene and something that’s a bit different but without being demanding or tiring. And that’s where Buddy Oriental Samui Beach Resort comes obligingly into the picture.


‘Buddy’ is a comparatively new name on the Thailand scene, having begun with a series of quality locations around Bangkok’s Khaosan Road area, before making a splash on Samui, in Lamai, with the big landmark of ‘Buddy Avenue’ that opened there in July 2008. It’s impossible to miss; right on the ring-road, not that far away from Lamai’s Tesco-Lotus, and with a 60-foot tower outside topped by a gigantic illuminated Buddy logo! This broad and cobbled pedestrian avenue leads upwards towards the impressive façade of the hotel, flanked on either side by restaurants, pubs and shops. Although Buddy Resort boasts of having three restaurants, none of these are actually ‘in-house’. Instead, in keeping with their established approach, the pedestrian avenue is actually a part of the resort and houses their Pazzo Italian Restaurant and their Mama’s Burger brands. And then, directly across the main road and bordering the beach, there are additionally the delightful surroundings of their signature Thai eatery, Chom-Lay Thai.


And, yes, this story is about a cooking class – although one with a notable difference! Every single resort on the island now seems to offer a class in Thai cooking and they all vary in one way or another. Because of this I check-out a different class every month and report back with my findings. And I have to say right away that not only is the layout at Chom-Lay Thai delightful but that the actual building just oozes charm, too, although it probably won’t be what you’re expecting!


It’s perhaps the only accessible spot on Samui where you’ll experience the flavour of a relaxed and elegantly ‘fading’ Colonial-style building. Of course, it isn’t the genuine article as Thailand has never found itself under colonial rule. But it’s impossible to tell the difference between this and the hundreds of similar golden remnants that you’ll see all the way from Karachi to Kuala Lumpur: low, bungalow-style, elegant, airy, made entirely of wood with deep overhangs shielding the balconies beneath from the tropical downpours and with every wall made of louvered half-glass shutters that are pulled entirely open during the day. There’s even a huge, antique, cast-iron triple-gas-lamp, although it’s now been converted to electricity. The building extends onto a deep, sandy terrace, just above the beach, which is simply strewn with palms, turning everything into a cool and fresh pastiche of dappled light and shade which overlooks a stone breakwater dotted with colourful fishing boats. It’s absolutely lovely. I’ve taken cooking classes all over the island and this is one of the most striking locations that I’ve come across.


As with all classes, you’ll need to have made contact beforehand and booked your place(s) at least 24 hours in advance. The resort’s Food and Beverage Manager, Khun Thanakrit Malisri (more usually known by his universal nickname of Khun Jack) speaks excellent English and will conscientiously attend to all your arrangements. There’s a suggested starting point of two different ‘menus’ available; each comprising three dishes. These have been found to be the most popular dishes that folks want to learn how to make, but if you have a different favourite or one that’s not on the list then just ask for it. Essentially, you can make any three dishes of your choice as long as you allow the staff enough time to prepare for you.


The resort’s smiling Sous Chef, Khun Chartchai, will be in attendance to guide you through your session, assisted by his helper, Khun Tarika, who’ll kit you out with hats and aprons to begin with. All the ingredients you’ll need to use will have been thoughtfully prepared for you and laid-out in small ceramic bowls, and Khun Chartchai will begin by identifying each of the ingredients and explaining a little about its function in both the dish and in Thai cuisine generally. And then it’s a straightforward process to follow his lead step-by-step, chopping, adding and stirring the ingredients as you go. Another helpful aspect is that he’s full of hints and tips, such as the difference between chopping or crushing garlic or how to prevent the fishy flavour of seafood from dominating the more delicate ingredients. And this is undoubtedly one of the reasons you’ve opted for a live-session in Thailand instead of a cookery video back home.


And then, after having made your dishes so that everything is still hot on the table, you’re able to sit and enjoy the ‘fruits’ of your labours at leisure, before being presented with a professional certificate of achievement and your souvenir chef’s hat and apron. It’s all very laid-back and thoughtfully presented – but this is only one part of the ‘Buddy experience’, as Khun Jack pointed out.


The beach is super for children and there’s an excellent swimming pool right next to the restaurant. It’s easy to find us and there’s direct parking right outside. We’re pleased to invite you to come here for the afternoon, relax, take a dip (towels provided) or a splash in the sea, and take the cooking class as part of your time here. You can do this close to lunchtime or make it your early evening meal, if you wish. Many resorts are wary of people wandering in from outside, but here everyone can be sure of a warm welcome.


What more is there to say? It’s a great location, easy to find and not only an excellent cooking class but a welcome alternative-excursion. Buddy Oriental Samui Beach Resort comes highly recommended.


Rob De Wet


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