Samui Wining & Dining
Under Review
Baitong Restaurant Terrace & Bar is getting rave reviews, with every justification.


Under ReviewI don’t want reviews to be very good,” says Khun Supit Choo-in, General Manager of Banana Fan Sea Beach Resort in Chaweng. “I want them to be excellent. That's my target.”


Khun Supit is talking about reviews on travel sites, where resorts are rated by customers on everything from the quality of the food in the restaurant to the friendliness of the staff throughout. And it’s clear that for this energetic, friendly man, anything less than ‘excellent’ just won’t cut it.


Both Banana Fan Sea Beach Resort and its Baitong Restaurant & Terrace Bar have been open for ten years, with a well-deserved high rating on those ‘revered-and-feared’ travel review sites. Banana Fan Sea is in the heart of Chaweng, with high ceilings, wooden décor, cosy bungalows tucked among foliage and a pool with sun-loungers only steps away from the beach. And Baitong Restaurant is closer still. It’s a spacious, comfortable place with the sound of waves crashing in and the smell of the surf drifting up to the tables. And it also includes the Terrace Beach Bar, which serves snacks, light meals, cocktails and wine.


The restaurant opens at 7:00 am and runs a breakfast buffet until around 11:00 am, with a mixture of Thai and Western breakfast dishes. From then, it’s lunch and dinner food all the way through to 11:00 pm, with the à la carte menu covering both settings. Khun Supit’s in the process of devising a separate lunch menu, but at the moment the à la carte covers everything you might want for either meal.


As with many of the best resort restaurants on the island, the menu’s been devised to balance the best of Thai and Western cuisine. There’s a couple of pages of Thai dishes, covering all the favourites. The list of salads – ten in total – has papaya alongside Greek, Caesar and Niçoise. There’re ten starters and a full page of vegetarian options – try the stir-fried morning glory or grilled tofu. Favourites such as fillet mignon, pizza, pasta, sandwiches and desserts like tutti frutti and crêpes. And, as we’re on an island, an excellent selection of seafood, like crab, squid, sea bass and king prawns. And if you can’t quite decide on a dish, flip to the front of the menu where there are the ‘Chef Recommends’ meals. Khun Supit also says that there’ll soon be a return of the popular Baitong theme nights, too. It’s all part of his plan to keep Baitong restaurant one of the best places for dining on Samui.


Although he’s only been General Manager for six months, Khun Supit is already making his mark. Baitong is moving rapidly up those online review rankings and it’s obvious just from his walking through the resort to the restaurant that he makes a point of knowing and bantering with the guests. He’s also organised afternoon English classes for the staff, four hours an afternoon, six days a week, building on his own experience of working on a cruise liner around Europe (as well working as all over Thailand and in Saudi Arabia).


I want to make Baitong Restaurant and Banana Fan Sea the best they can be for guests,” he says. “Both the restaurant and the resort have been open for ten years now and are well-established on Samui. There was a slight slump in guest numbers a couple of years ago due to political problems in Bangkok but since then we’ve been going up and up. On average, every month we have about 33 per cent more guests than we’d estimated. Many of our restaurant customers come in from a walk on the beach, have a couple of cocktails and decide to order food, then come back to eat on another night. And a good percentage of the people staying in the resort are repeat guests who come back every year. I want to keep this up and have more people come in than ever.”


If you’re staying in the Banana Fan Sea Beach Resort, the chances are that you’ll drift down to Baitong and be having a meal there soon after you check in. But even if you’re not, the restaurant is a spot that’s definitely worth calling in to. Keep an eye out for Khun Supit as well – he’ll be the one wandering around making sure everyone’s happy – and generating those ‘excellent’ reviews in the process.


Lisa Cunningham


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