Samui Wining & Dining
Magic Moments

Indulge in food with a difference at The Imperial Samui Beach Resort's innovative restaurant, Twisted Thai.


12-13Every restaurant owner wants to do something different with his or her venue to what everybody else is doing. They want to want to find a niche so they can say in all honesty that what they’re doing is special. But that's no mean feat in today's culinary scene, where the public’s interest in food and the art of fine dining has risen exponentially. Cooking programs are now some of top-rated shows on television, and chefs have become bona fide TV personalities, many with their own shows - some even with a number of shows on the same network. Just ten years ago the average person wouldn't be able to reel off a handful of the world's best chefs, but now guys like Gordon Ramsay and Marco Pierre White are household names.

    And, as a result of this increased knowledge of specialist cooking techniques and of what constitutes 'good food', everybody's a critic. Armed with the information they've acquired from the media, people just can’t wait to scurry home after a meal to document their experience on websites like Trip Advisor or their very own food blogs. These days there's an army of self-styled foodie folks looking for something special to eat, enjoy and report back on, via whatever their preferred medium is. No doubt they'll also come equipped with a handy digital camera tucked away in their bag to record the aesthetics.

      And as diners' expectations rise, the quality of food in the restaurants they eat at must also rise. One bad review can snowball. But it's not all about the quality of the food. As people dine out more and more, they start to look for 'different' experiences, something they haven't seen or tasted before - something unique. And with chefs like Heston Blumenthal conjuring up food that's nothing short of pure experimental magic, it's a tough ask of a restaurant to quench that burning desire in its customers.


This fine dining eatery has
been wowing locals and
tourists alike with its quirky
take on Thai cuisine.


      But Belgian-born Executive Chef Jan Van de Voorde is doing just that. The food he serves up at Twisted Thai straddles the gap between utilising ground-breaking techniques and creating food that’s deliciously satisfying at the same time. This fine dining eatery has been wowing locals and tourists alike with its quirky take on Thai cuisine. Sous-vide techniques are nothing new in the world of haute cuisine, but using them in the way Jan does at Twisted Thai is.

       Jan wanted to be a chef since he was five years old, and even told his parents as much. At 11 he was enrolled at the prestigious Ter Groene Poorte high school in Bruges, which has a particular emphasis on hotel and restaurant management. That in turn led him to nabbing a highly coveted spot at a two-Michelin star restaurant in Holland, followed by many other outstanding restaurants. With this impressive history under his belt, it comes as little surprise that the food at Twisted Thai has been turning so many heads.

      Thai classics are given a whole new look, a makeover, if you like, by Jan and his skilful and dedicated team. Take tom yum soup. Here it's served as a starter, but called tom yum Parmesan because it's got, well, Parmesan in it. Now, although this may sound like an unusual combination, Jan has carefully thought about the flavour combinations to create this dish - and others - that totally surprise you - in a good way

      Jan and his team painstakingly experimented with unique and unexpected tastes until they found recipes that worked. And that’s just how the tom yum Parmesan was born. It’s a small bowl of creamy but sour soup, served alongside a long, curly Parmesan crisp, which you can either enjoy on its own or dip into the soup for a different texture.

      If it's your first visit to Twisted Thai, it's recommended that you opt for the set menu. That way the expert chef has already worked out a fantastic journey for your taste buds that he knows you’ll love. The six-course tasting menu kicks off with larb tuna before moving onto that tom yum Parmesan and then a yum talay - all of which come laden with interesting surprises.

      After a palate cleanser of 'ice cloud' - a spicy prawn and peanut ice cream that's surprisingly moreish, and accompanied by a puff of dry ice smoke - comes the main. Slow cooked, sous vide chicken served with coconut and chili risotto, and an artistic drizzling of deliciously thick massaman sauce. It doesn't look anything like a traditional massaman - i.e. a soup-like curry - instead it appears like a fine dining dish, which it is. And for dessert the chef's selection set menu offers up a sticky gloe buad chee galama - banoffee pie with banana, Chantilly cream and crispy rice, followed by a coffee or tea of your choice.

      The whole experience is something out of the ordinary. One minute your table will be engulfed by an atmospheric dry ice cloud, and the next you'll be curiously dissecting the most intricate of artistic dishes. Each course is explained to you by the chef when it arrives, so that before you dive into it you really understand the hard work that has gone into it. Eating here you get more than just a meal, there's an element of the theatrical too. And that's what makes dining at Twisted Thai so very special indeed.


Christina Wylie


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