Samui Wining & Dining
Going Native

Joining the locals for lunch at Som Restaurant in Bang Por, on the northern coast of Samui.

5Last month, Khun Grit, our photographer, and I headed up to the north coast of the island. A couple of our regular readers (Martin and Alison) had contacted us to let us know about a relatively new Thai restaurant that had opened in Bang Por. And they spoke very highly about the food and service. So we packed our appetites and equipment and went to find out just exactly what Som Restaurant was all about and whether it deserved further praise.

     It’s very easy to find; coming from the Chaweng/Bophut direction head towards Mae Nam. When you get to the traffic lights, the only ones on the route after Bophut, set your odometer to zero. The restaurant is another six and a half kilometres on, on the left-hand side of the road. And on the opposite side of the road is Bang Por Beach which stretches for several kilometres. Som Restaurant is owned and run by Khun Oil and her partner Khun Boy. Both worked in a number of resorts on the island before opening the restaurant in October last year. Khun Boy does all the cooking and he’s worked in the kitchens of some notable restaurants, the last being at the nearby exclusive Napasai Resort. Khun Oil meets and greets the diners and spent the last couple of years on reception desk duties at Peace Resort in Bophut.

     Khun Oil is originally from the northeast of Thailand but moved to the island 12 years ago with her mum, who’s called Som – thus the name of the restaurant. “My mum has a laundry business nearby,” Khun Oil explained. “And everyone around here knows her very well. As soon as we opened, lots of locals came down, really because of mum, but we hope to impress them enough that they’ll come back regularly for our food. There’re many well-established Thai restaurant near us so we have to provide excellent food at value-for-money prices to attract customers and so far we’re very pleased with the response. Lots of expats also live around this area and we’ve got to know many of them. Our menu reflects the diverse tastes of our customers but we predominately serve Thai cuisine.”

     Inside, the restaurant has seating for around 20 people and the sturdy wooden tables and chairs are well spaced out. The kitchen is open-plan so you can see Khun Boy busily at work preparing and cooking the dishes. It’s always refreshing and comforting to see that a chef has nothing to hide and is happy to cook in front of his guests.

      Som Restaurant is open from 11:00 am until 11:00 pm every day. And as you probably aren’t in a rush, it’s advisable to take your time and order some appetizers to share. Fresh spring rolls with a chili dip are just 50 baht, they have a big Caesar salad at just 90 baht and an incredibly flavoursome spicy bone pork soup (soups are 70-100 baht and are a meal in themselves). Main dishes such as pork, chicken or seafood with garlic and pepper, sweet and sour, lemongrass or oyster sauce are 70 -80 baht as is a whole range of curries. Whilst there, we had a Penang curry as one of our dishes and it was delicious with a lovely creaminess to the rich sauce.

 

The kitchen is open-plan so you
can see Khun Boy busily at work
preparing and cooking the dishes.

 

       As you might expect, seafood (80-150 baht) features significantly on the menu. And their most popular dish is the grilled sea bass. We had it with buttered vegetables and the fish was served with a little garlic on top and a touch of olive oil. The presentation and tastes were what I would expect at a 5-star beachside resort restaurant. It’s obvious Khun Boy has a good culinary background and their food has raised the bar amongst the dozen or so other restaurants along this strip. They may not be on the beach but are no match when it comes to the food and the friendly service here.

      Children and visitors looking for some non-Thai dishes can tuck into spaghetti and pasta dishes (100-150 baht); a variety of sandwiches (80-120 baht); a very tempting Mexican pork tenderloin with pasta (150 baht); sausage and onion with rösti potato (150 baht); and an excellent chicken fillet Zurich-style with rösti potato (180 baht). Some of these latter dishes have been brought onto the menu by request and Khun Oil is always delighted to oblige. “Over the last few months, we’ve had visitors from Russia, the UK, Germany, Scandinavia and Australia. I always try to make time to have a chat with everyone if I can and I’ll ask them what they like. Those that are staying here for a while often want a taste of home now and again and Boy is more than happy to make anything they want. He’s very experienced at cooking both Thai and Western food and so long as we can get the ingredients we’ll put the dishes on the menu.”

       They’ve recently added a dark chocolate mousse with whipped cream to the dessert menu (90 baht) and it’s to die for. It’s light yet incredibly morish and I defy anyone to take one spoonful and then leave it alone for five minutes.

       Som Restaurant has simply fantastic tasting food, both Khun Oil and Khun Boy are very welcoming and a delight to chat with and you get excellent value for money. It’s now become one of my favourite Thai restaurants on the island so thanks again to Martin and Alison for sharing their newly discovered treasure with us.

 

 

Johnny Paterson



 


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