Samui Wining & Dining
On A Theme
An evening out at Chomtalay’s lavish and affordable ‘Let’s Meat’ Buffet.

 

On A ThemeDining-out on Samui is one of the island joys; the variety of cuisine here is just so good. But if there’s a group of you, or you’re here with young children, then the costs of quality dining can soon mount up. Even indulging in a beach barbecue can become expensive. But not if it’s done properly. As it is at Chomtalay Restaurant.

 

Chomtalay is the comfortable and laid-back beachside restaurant of Chaweng Regent Beach Resort, at the northern section of Chaweng Beach. This is one of the island’s longer-established resorts, large and luxurious, with extensive mature grounds and two superb eateries. You find the chic Red Snapper Restaurant & Bar sitting up on the main Chaweng Beach Road itself. But if you stroll through the grounds, past the greenery and little cottages and down towards the beach, you’ll emerge by the big swimming pool, with the warm lights of Chomtalay to your right. And right on the sand beyond, in all its fine-dining elegance with snowy cloths and 5-star service, you’ll see what’s known as ‘Let’s Meat’. It’s held every Tuesday night starting at 6:30 pm and it takes the form of a very refined buffet indeed.

 

And here the layout and décor is also most impressive. Spotlights cleanly illuminate the U-shaped kitchen and buffet area whilst candles glimmer on the dining tables. There are low bamboo dividers and screens which attractively break up the space into cosy areas. Big red lanterns hang above with huge ceramic pots, here and there, filled with rushes and cut leaves. And the quality wooden tables and chairs are dotted about and as beautifully-set as you’d expect in a fine-dining venue. But this appears just once a week, especially for this occasion. And the next day, everything’s all packed away as if it never happened!

 

Its theme is that of a ‘meatfest’ and you’ll immediately realise why, as the whole pig roasting on a spit next to the side of beef gives an immediate clue! (And this really is roast meat: it’s sizzling and spitting onto the charcoal below and filling the air with mouth-watering aromas that you just don’t get with meat baked in an oven.) But then, as you start to take it all in, you’ll realise that there’s more than merely meat, and that there’s something here, in fact, for everyone.

For a start, it’s really good to see a ‘kiddies’ section’ with items like spaghetti, ‘happy-face’ potato fries and slices of pizza; although, frankly, all that you’ll need to do to keep the little-ones happy is to slice them off smaller portions of whatever it is that you’re taking for yourself. But the awareness is there, and that’s also reflected in the pricing: children up to the age of 12 years come in at half-price. Excellent!

 

This is the sort of up-market beach buffet that at one time used to be widespread. But the whole business of a buffet relies on having enough customers to make ends meet (no pun intended). And, gradually, over the last few years, most of these have faded away. But the unexpected result of this is that those restaurants which still put on a lavish spread, like this, are thriving.

 

Over on the left of the ‘U’ of the buffet are the selections of starters and hors d’oeuvres and a superb bread bar, with nine different types ranging from white and wholemeal French sticks through to multi-grain and dark breads. Plus a nice little touch of refinement alongside this; a lighted gas-powered toaster-oven for those who like their pâté crisp. And, right next to this, sit several steaming ceramic pots of different soups. These vary from week to week, especially with the ‘specials’; keep an eye open for the delicious ‘Prawn with Chili and Lemongrass’.

 

To itemise everything that’s on offer just isn’t possible. But there are both international and Thai dishes that can be sectioned into salad, fish, seafood and meat, in addition to those already described. The salad bar is varied and there are lots of cuts of sliced cold meats plus several sorts of sausage. Then there’s shark, salmon, barracuda and snapper, crab, huge prawns and also several Thai dishes including a mild and mouth-watering massaman. Yet another measure of the quality of this buffet comes with the sauces and dips; there are altogether 16 different varieties to pick from.

 

The restaurant’s cheery Executive Chef, Khun Dam, is always on hand to extend a warm welcome and to oversee his horde of helpers as they scurry around making up your order. Ask for your meat to be cooked how you like it, point to the chunk you fancy, nod your approval as it’s sliced-off and then take some side dishes back to your place to await its arrival. Khun Dam is an experienced hand at all of this; he won First Prize at the ‘Samui Food Fair – 2010’ and also led his team of chefs at the ‘Pattaya Food Hoteliers Expo 2010 International Competition’ where they also achieved honours.

 

And, naturally, the quality of the table service is also up there on a par with the rest of it. Empty plates are quietly and efficiently removed and your cutlery replaced, almost as if by magic. And you only need to look up and around for a moment before a waiter appears to take your drinks order. It really is fine-dining, but on the beach. Which is no doubt one of the reasons you came here in the first place!

 

And the best news of all is the cost of everything. The entire evening of feasting, chatting, relaxing, wiggling your toes in the sand and popping back and forth for extras for as long as you want will cost you just 750 baht per person (children half-price).

 

Rob De Wet

 


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