Samui Wining & Dining
Buri’s Beach Bliss

Taking full advantage of the alluring family-featured ‘Beach Club’ at Buri Rasa.

 

9Samui’s a small place. You can walk the length of Chaweng beach in well under an hour. The same goes for Lamai. And it’s not much more than 50 kilometres all the way round the island. It’s not big. Although, when it comes to restaurants, that’s a different matter. There are hundreds of excellent eateries tucked away in nooks and crannies. There are dozens of marvellous spots on the beach. But you’ll notice very few of these when you’re just strolling about. You’ll see places that are pretty. You’ll spot prices that entice. But neither of these things have much connection with the dining experience that follows. You need to know where to go for quality cuisine that’s matched to a sensible cost. And one place that’s well-known for this is on the southern part of Chaweng Beach. It’s a lovely resort. It has a top-notch beachside restaurant. And it’s known simply as ‘Buri Rasa’.

    Buri Rasa is one of those places which are just as pleasing whether it’s day or night. The resort is dotted with gigantic trees, and the two-story villas are shady and cool beneath their dense overhang. The clean white walls and the trellis-work of Thai-style timbering are covered in lush tropical foliage, and it’s cool and quiet as you wander along the sun-dappled paths between the villas. At night everything seems to become more compact: the big sky has vanished and a thousand fairy lights wink along the paths and in the trees.

      And, following the path, you’ll emerge right next to the ‘restaurant’ – the whole area here being known as ‘The Beach Club’. In true Thai style this is based around a roofed-in space that’s open at the sides. There’s a noticeably placid atmosphere here: the décor is understated and the wooden furniture is sturdy. But the motif, the decoration, is a long line of antique wooden shutters that covers the two walls. It’s unobtrusive and barely noticeable, but it seems to set a dreamy tone for the whole dining experienceBut any restaurant is only as good

 

 But any restaurant is only as good
as its chef and cuisine. And this is
where an already pleasant setting
begins to shine. 


     Right next to this, and running to the nearby beach bar, is another dining area that’s covered with a see-through roof. On the other side of the bar there’s a beachside terrace that runs across the width of the resort. This is where the evening barbecue station is housed and the tables are set, and where you’ll probably prefer to dine when weather permits. And, during high-season, you’ll find tables right on the sand every evening. It’s a delightful setting. But any restaurant is only as good as its chef and cuisine. And this is where an already pleasant setting begins to shine.

       The restaurant at Buri Rasa has always had a name for distinguished cuisine and, for almost all of its history, has featured two top chefs at the same time, one of them running the international kitchen and the other taking care of the Thai side of things. Were you to Google the names ‘Umberto Piccolini’, ‘Jeffrey Lord’ and ‘Ian Sherlock’, then you’d realise the sort of international reputation that the previous chefs have enjoyed. And all three of them shared the same common ground: unique and individually-created dishes; an insistence on buying seafood and fish fresh from the local markets every morning, and the use of nothing other than prime imported cuts of meat from Australia and New Zealand. This tradition continues today. But where things begin to become interesting is firstly the manner in which this is all now being presented and, secondly, the way it’s all being priced.

      “We’ve spent a long time working at two combined things,” explained Khun Chart, the resort’s Restaurant Manager. “Firstly, costing. We understand only too well that our offerings need to be affordable. We cater for couples and families,” he continued, “which means a selection of ‘light-bites’ and nibble-sized dishes for smaller appetites. And then the food itself needs to be quality; nobody will come back again if they get a steak they have to chew on for an hour. Or, indeed, if the bill at the end of the evening adds up to something scary. So this is what we’ve now perfected. By working really hard at sourcing our supplies from everywhere – local produce, various selected importers both in Thailand and abroad, and wines from a range of competing distributors – we know we’ve got the best at the lowest cost. We pass this on to our diners. And we also know our chefs are going to continue to create excellent dishes with what we’re buying-in for them.”

      Right. That’s sorted out the theory of it all. So what does it mean in practice? To begin with, every evening offers Thai or international cuisine, either à la carte or in the form of several variations of Thai ‘sets’ – perfect for sampling a little bit of everything. Every evening also offers an alternative: a BBQ Seafood Buffet. This features New Zealand mussels, Phuket lobster, several sorts of fish, crab, tiger prawns and scallops, along with a big selection of salads and side dishes. You can opt to take any of these individually, by weight. But most people go for one of the several ‘sets’ on offer. Take the top choice, for example: ‘Set 3’ – 2,500 baht for two people – including a bottle of prime red or white wine. And this features all the seafood items already mentioned!

      But once a week, every Thursday, there’s the ‘Gala Buffet and Dinner’. There’s everything already mentioned plus pastas and salads, in the form of a running eat-as-much-as-you-want buffet, together with a couple of wandering musical minstrels, and all for 600 baht; an extremely keen price in anybody’s book. And, talking of pricing, make a note that all the prices here are exactly what you’ll pay; they already include tax. It’s another aspect of the overall philosophy at Buri Rasa, and it leaves you only to decide on the size of the tip you’ll leave.

      And then there’s the Happy Hours, from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm. and again from 10:00 pm to 11:00 pm, where all beverages (excepting wines and Corona beer) are two-for-one. And also the wine menu – a wide selection of classic and new world labels, also available by the glass, with a dozen of them at well under 1,000 baht a bottle . . .

      You’re on holiday. Stroll around to your heart’s content, as often as you feel like it. But keep in mind that you’re unlikely to stumble across a dining gem in this way. You’ll see lots of pretty places to eat. But you’re unlike to come across Buri Rasa by chance. It’s one of those places that you need to know about to begin with. And now you do. Happy dining!

 

Rob De Wet


 


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