Samui Wining & Dining
Plated Up

Jahn restaurant at Conrad Koh Samui delivers exquisite food that almost look too good to eat -almost.

12-13Sometimes food is really good. And sometimes it whisks you away and on a culinary journey. Conrad Koh Samui’s Jahn is a fine dining eatery that does just that. Chef Joe Diaz – who, impressively, has worked with Alain Ducasse, and at The French Laundry in the past – had pulled out all the stops on this one.

    To get to Conrad you go down a highway, past a roundabout, up a hill, past seven coconut trees, fourteen dogs in the road and then you’re there – it’s not in the centre of town by anyone’s definition. But that’s the beauty of it. Conrad is truly off the beaten track and that’s how to get a truly secluded, island feeling. It takes about 35 minutes to get there from Chaweng and when you reach the private, one-way driveway in their complimentary limo service you can’t help but get excited.

    The food at Jahn is Thai but presented like international fine dining fare. Chef Joe Diaz takes the components of traditional Thai dishes and serves them in novel ways. But he doesn’t want to go too far with the theme – certainly not into the realm of fusion. His aim is to stick to the original flavours of Thai food and serve them in a compelling way.

      And the dishes are often quite interactive, too. The signature dish, kaeng massaman nua, is a wagyu beef tenderloin with new potatoes, pearl onions, peanuts and red onion. When it arrives it looks just like a Western steak dish. But on the side you get pots of massaman sauce and lemongrass rice, which you add yourself to turn it into, essentially, a Thai curry.

 

When each member of staff
greets you by name upon
arrival, you know your evening
is going to be a special one.

 

      “Jahn” means plate in Thai, and if you eat at Jahn you’ll be seeing a lot of those! As each departs it’s never long before another arrives – many being complimentary so the contents of which are a surprise. You can either opt for the tasting menu or order à la carte. We went for à la carte.

      When each member of staff greets you by name upon arrival, you know your evening is going to be a special one. And after choosing your water – sparkling or still – you even get a say in your garnish – lemon or lime. That’s the level of choice you’re given here. No preference is left unattended to. And if you order the aforementioned wagyu beef massaman, you even get to select your knife. (Although the ease with which I glided through the wagyu beef with my weapon of choice made me think I probably could’ve just used a spoon.)

      The presentation of the food is second to none. The experience of peering onto the yam som-o starter I ordered – pomelo salad with blue swimmer crab, coconut, lemongrass and pomelo sorbet – was akin to one of looking into a magical little garden. Tiny purple flowers tumbled over the side of delicate leafy greens on windy vines and the cutest little mushrooms, which seemed to sprout out from the plate. It was like something out of Alice in Wonderland.

      Service at Jahn is a bit like a dance. Each waiter sails across the floor delivering a seamless flow of delicate food items to and fro from tables. Dining here is more than a meal – it’s an experience. And before you have time to fully comprehend the dish you’ve just eaten, another one arrives to again spark your curiosity.

      First came a glass vial of carrot soup topped with a layer of coconut foam. Then a sliver of lobster sushi sprinkled with spring onion and shallots drizzled in Thai dressing – both complimentary. Then it was time for the starter, the palate cleanser, the main course, the pre-desert and the desert. And if you’re not full by then there’s a selection of delicate petit fours to finish you off.

      One particularly notable dish was the coconut crème brûlée. Arriving at our table it looked like a bizarre tribal headdress and at first I wasn’t sure whether to eat it or wear it. On closer inspection, we realised that what we were presented with was a beheaded coconut on a triangular wooden board. Delicate chocolate ‘horns’ protruded from the neck of the coconut, resting on a quenelle of ice cream. Below it all was the crème brûlée itself, which filled the rest of the coconut. Its consistency so light it was almost mousse-like. And shreds of freshly grated coconut were threaded through it, which added variety to the texture.

      The experience of dining at Jahn is more than just eating good food. You’re taken on a culinary journey of visual and gustatory surprises that keep you on your toes. Nothing is ordinary at Jahn – in fact, it’s extraordinary.

 

Christina Wylie



 


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