Samui Wining & Dining
The Fact Is

Fascinating restaurant facts you’d never guess.


12One of the biggest attractions about Thailand is its food, which is now sought-after and enjoyed the world over. But one of the Samui’s biggest attractions is its range of cuisines: there are probably more world-class restaurants here per square metre than anywhere else on the planet. With this in mind and with the intention of edifying and enhancing your holiday experience, here are a few curious gems of obscure knowledge about restaurants to bandy about the table during that satisfying post-prandial glow under the stars!


  • Until 1765 restaurants didn’t exist. Food was either cooked at home or eaten at an inn whilst people were in transit.

  • In 1765, a Parisian inn-keeper, Monsieur Boulanger, began serving a single dish of sheep’s feet simmered in a white sauce. He considered this to be healthy and restorative. The French word for this is ‘restaurant’ – hence the many subsequent visits to ‘Mr. Boulanger’s restaurant’!

  • The modern dining style, where courses are brought sequentially, was originally called Service à la Russe and was first-introduced in France in the early 19th century by Prince Alexander Kurakin of Russia.

  • The first acknowledged Chinese restaurant to open outside of Asia was the Macao and Woosun, which opened in San Francisco in 1849.

  • The famous Michelin guide first appeared in 1900 and was initially more about finding car repair garages whilst travelling through France than discovering great places to eat!

  • The first theme restaurants began to appear in Paris in the late 19th century. The Café du Bagne (Café of the Penitentiary), established in 1885, depicted a South Pacific penal colony and waiters were dressed as convicts (but with fake balls and chains).

  • Amongst today’s extreme-theme restaurants are Hitler’s Cross in Mumbai, the totally dark Pitch Black in Beijing and the Hobbit House in Manila which is entirely staffed by midgets!

  • Thailand has its own famous theme restaurant where the ‘food is guaranteed not to cause pregnancy’: the famous Cabbages and Condoms in Bangkok.

  • In an attempt to gain fame, some restaurants have chosen exotic locations, such as: Belgium’s Dinner in the Sky, suspended from a crane 150 feet in the air; the transparent undersea bubble of the Ithaa restaurant in the Maldives; and Auckland’s beautiful Tree House, built 50-foot up a giant redwood tree.

  • Not all restaurants are thoughtfully named. Some of the more embarrassing titles include London’s Phat Phuck, and also the Golden Stool, El Rape in Spain, Fort Worth’s Fuk Mi, Alaska’s Big Dick’s Halfway Inn, and the eyebrow-raising My Dung in California.

  • During the WWII food rationing in England, gourmet restaurants were limited to meals consisting of no more than three courses and with meat and fish not permitted together at the same sitting.

  • And at the same time, cheap eateries run by local authorities known as British Restaurants began to appear and set up in schools or church halls, to cater for families who had been bombed out of their homes. London alone operated 2,000 of these. A typical 3-course meal cost 9p – around £3 (or $4.30) at today’s rates.

  • Russians eat at restaurants on an average of just once every three months, whereas residents of Hong Kong eat-out roughly three times every week.

  • According to the 2010 Michelin Guides, there are 160,000 restaurants in Tokyo alone, compared to 23,000 in New York City and 20,000 in Paris. The entire United Kingdom has only 26,000 restaurants overall, of which 6,000 are in the London area.

  • And yet the average Brit goes out to a restaurant, or gets take-home food, 11.2 times a week and spends almost $2,000 a year on this!

  • Whereas the average American gets through an average of 8.6 similar meals a week.

  • In 2009, an average of $1,200 was spent per person on restaurant food overall in the USA.

  • Also in 2009, America spent an estimated $400 billion dollars overall at fast-food restaurants.

  • The American FDA permits ‘up to 30 insect fragments’ and ‘one rodent hair’ per 100 grams of food served in restaurants.

  • A recent survey revealed that the single most annoying thing that people do in restaurants is … to insist they are right when they are wrong. In particular this applies to beef, where it seems that ‘medium’ and ‘medium-rare’ means something different to everyone!

  • McDonald’s opens another new restaurant every four hours, worldwide.

  • But Subway has now taken over from McDonald’s in becoming the world’s number one restaurant chain.

  • Ninety-six percent of American 5-year olds can identify Ronald McDonald but only 62% are able to put a name to Santa Claus.

  • The largest restaurant in the world is in China; the Beijing Duck Restaurant can feed 9,000 people at a single sitting.

  • The restaurant with the most number of courses on the menu is the Bray Restaurant in Cumbria with its 21-course tasting menu.

  • Whereas Finland’s Säräpirtti Kippurasarvi restaurant serves only one item – särä – a lamb dish that takes nine hours to make, but you can eat as much of it as you want!

  • The most expensive dish in the word can be found at Hubert Keller’s Las Vegas restaurant, Fleur. His burger platter costs a mere $5,000 – but that does include wine.

  • According to Forbes, the most expensive restaurants in the world (apart from some flashy Vegas burger joints) are: Masa’s in Manhattan – minimum per person $500; the Parisian L’Arpege – compulsory nine-course tasting menu $495; El Bulli in Catalonia – minimum cost $300; Restaurant Gordon in London – the seven-course tasting menu starts at a mere $224; San Francisco’s The French Laundry – 24-course culinary journey menu $195, and Tetsuya in Sydney – 10-course minimum $195.

  • A comparably-lavish fine-dining multi-course gourmet experience on Samui will cost you between $70 and $100 at one of our world-class restaurants. (And there are chefs working on Samui who have either worked in the restaurants cited above or who have worked alongside some of their famous celebrity chefs!)

  • Whereas sitting down to eat at one of Samui’s nourishing and culturally-revealing street noodle restaurants will set you back just a little over one dollar (35 baht) – crunchy grasshoppers are extra!

  • Although quality restaurants on Samui do to sell plenty of wine, it’s expensive as it attracts a 300% luxury tax on each bottle.


So, with that round-up of interesting restaurant facts around the world I’ll take my leave by saying: bon appétit, guten appetit, buon appetito, Приятного аппетита and, not forgetting the Thai, kor hai charoen aharn!


Rob De Wet

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