Samui Wining & Dining
On A Theme

Nora Beach Resort & Spa turns the fine-dining buffet into an art form.

 

Page18Feb If you were to ask people what was the best meal they’d ever had, you’d get a thousand different answers. But . . . if you asked them to imagine a spread that was fit for a king, then the answers would be less varied. Certainly the quality of the fare would be tip-top – that goes without saying. But the layout and style would be different as it would no doubt be a banquet of some sort. Everyone would picture a royal feast with table after table laden with the finest of food; roast suckling pigs, haunches of venison, whole poached salmon and plates piled with capons and quail. Not to mention the endless supplies of exotic sweetbreads, sauces and sundries.

But the word ‘buffet’ conjures a different vision: one of school lunches or greasy bacon and thick coffee. And that’s a shame. Because, done properly, the buffet of today is far, far more than this. Today’s fine-dining buffet is a regal treat indeed. Presented with confidence and flair, a gourmet buffet is an art-form in its own right. And blend that idea with the perfect location – a beach on a starry-skied tropical island – and that’s just what you’ll discover when you head for a buffet-evening at Nora Beach Resort & Spa.

  

‘Nora Beach’ is one of Samui’s most-respected resorts. It’s right at the very northern end of Chaweng Beach, on the road to the airport where the land starts to slope as it runs down to the sea, and the layout is terraced around the twisting paths that wind their way downwards towards the pool and the sand. Next to this large, free-form pool, you’ll find the resort’s two restaurants, together with a spacious bar. The first you’ll come to is Prasuthon, and very close to this there’s Menora, with a big octagonal sala in-between and linking the two. Everything’s on slightly different levels here, cross-linked by wooden decking, and this endows it all with a sense of intimacy and harmony. And, naturally, it’s open on all sides and right on the edge of the beach.

But this won’t be your first impression. As you come down the last low-lit bend, turn, and suddenly see the restaurants, you’ll pause in surprise. Because below you, spread out under the clear bright accents cast by the overhead spotlights, is a feast that’s truly fit for a king.

Set with snow-white tablecloths, a semi-circle of long tables is piled with delicacies, such as whole salmon, crabs and rock lobsters, snapper steaks, oysters, king prawns and squid, plus cuts of pork and chicken, for variety. And there’s a table in the centre with a selection of Japanese morsels, such as sushi, sashimi and tempura. At one side, next to a selection of waiting seafood, is a charcoal grill where beaming chefs are ready to prepare your selections according to your instructions. And, as you’re greeted and guided to your table inside, you’ll pass more awaiting offerings sitting simmering inside stainless servers, alongside tables laden with fruit and assortments of delicious desserts. A humble buffet this most certainly is not!

Inside Prasuthon, the lighting is lower, softer and more intimate, with most of it emanating from the candles on the tables. The table settings are crisp and immaculate; exactly what you’d expect, in fact, in a fine-dining environment. And that goes for the quality of the service, too. A drinks list will appear and you’ll be left to make your unhurried selection. But as soon as you raise your head or look up, a waiter will suddenly appear to take your order. And a careful glance around will reveal staff stationed attentively around the whole perimeter.

The entire affair is based upon the idea that you’re here to relax, be waited upon, enjoy your food at leisure, talk a little, replenish your plate and talk some more – and all of this entirely at your own pace. This approach to dining is mostly due to the efforts and experience of Khun Kittichai Sroyphong – more usually known by his nickname, Khun M. He’s the Executive Chef here and personally oversees the team that’s manning the hot stations outside. But he takes the time to wander and mingle and will no doubt circulate to your table to offer you his greetings. “The only way to make a buffet like this work,” he says, “is to have the best of everything – the best food and the best service. This way word spreads and more people come. And the more guests we have, the more we can provide for the buffet. Plus they are also attracted by the entertainment,” he added. “Everyone prefers to dine with a show to watch, too!”

At this point it has to be said that at Nora Beach they usually run five buffets a week, each on a different theme. This varies, however, according to the season, and at the peak of the high season they’ve been known to hold a different buffet every single evening. Conversely, as things peter-down towards the low season, this gets reduced. But one thing remains constant throughout the year. And that’s this buffet you’re reading about. It’s the Fisherman’s Seafood Buffet, it’s always held on a Friday evening, and it comes complete with a cabaret show at 8:00 pm.

But this is Thailand. Over here, the word ‘cabaret’ has a very specific meaning. And you’ll find yourself being entertained and fascinated by an entourage of attractive young ‘women’ who are not quite what they seem! It’s all very professional, with some of the costumes costing hundreds of dollars each. This is the point in the evening where the waiters can take a break for a while, as hardly anybody’s eating. If you’re watching and you’re male, you’ll be curious, if not intrigued. And if you’re female you’ll be fascinated. Either way, don’t forget your cameras as after the show the performers will be more than pleased to pose with you at your table for some of the most memorable snaps of your holiday.

There’s not much more to be said, other than not only is the entire evening excellent, but the cost of it is, too, coming in at just 980 baht per head. This is altogether a super night out and one of the best buffets around – although it should really be called a ‘banquet’!

      

 

         


Rob De Wet

 


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