Samui Wining & Dining
On a Theme

Every night is another culinary delight at Nora Buri and Thr Barge.


20I haven’t yet heard of people coming to Samui for a ‘gourmet holiday’ but I’m certain it’ll happen one day soon. With the enormous variety of fare on offer, all of it top quality and all of it a fraction of the cost you’d pay back home, I’m sure the ‘gourmet break’ is on the cards. You could easily spend every day of the week exploring a different cuisine or a new dining format. In fact, if you’re in the know, you won’t even have to move around to do this. If you’re staying at the right resort you’ll have something different every single night. Such as you’ll find, for example, at Nora Buri Resort & Spa.

      This is not only the latest addition to the ‘Nora Group’ but it’s also the 5-star flagship of the group’s resorts. Although there’s no strict organisation with this title, it refers to a group of resorts on the island that are all flying the ‘Nora’ banner. The first of these was the prestigious Nora Beach Resort & Spa at the northern end of Chaweng Beach Road. Some years later there followed two more in quick succession, both in Chaweng, Nora Lakeview Hotel and Nora Chaweng Hotel. But the biggest and most expansive had to wait until early in 2009 to get off the ground. This is the sumptuous ‘Nora Buri’, just a short way outside Chaweng on the road to Choeng Mon. And the jewel in its crown is the resort’s signature fine-dining restaurant, The Barge.


And it’s between these two
excellent restaurants that a
whole week’s worth of global
cuisine is on offer, with
something different available
almost every night.


      Although it’s not immediately obvious, the impressive wooden architecture of The Barge is a part of the Nora Buri estate, being on the beach side of the main road, with the rest of the resort cascading down the hillside opposite. The Barge is on three linked levels, with the elegantly stylish Thai restaurant, The Rice Barge, being at the top. And on the lower and shady terrace (and spreading onto the beach and around the pool) you’ll find The Barge restaurant itself.

       Over the road and up the hill sits the broad and breezy expanse of Manora. This is Nora Buri’s third restaurant, an impressive dining space, open on three sides, with stunning sea views during the day and a fairyland twinkle of lights at night. It’s big enough to hold parties or functions (although there is also a separate banqueting room for private affairs) but also has a refined and smaller air-conditioned section attached. And it’s between these two excellent restaurants that a whole week’s worth of global cuisine is on offer, with something different available almost every night.

      It’s hard to know whether to start with the ‘theme nights’ or to lay everything out for you day by day! But, so that you can more-easily plan your visit, we’ll head in a straight line beginning with the Hawaiian Seafood BBQ Buffet that’s held every Monday at Manora. And right away it has to be said that perhaps the most impressive aspect of every night here at Nora Buri is the quality and variety of the seafood. Not only are there fish steaks and fillets waiting for you in stainless heated servers, but also live cooking stations, too, producing sizzling salmon and tuna steaks, and grilled crabs or rock lobsters to order. Items will vary slightly from week to week, depending on what’s available that day at the markets. But you can be sure that delicacies such as tiger prawns, fresh oysters, mussels, giant crab and fillets of sole or plaice will usually be on offer, amongst others. Plus you’ll be able to enjoy a live one-hour Polynesian show, complete with fire dancers, on Hawaiian Night!

      Tuesday sees an Italian theme around the pool and by the beach at The Barge. There’s a full range of antipasti, soups, salads, pasta, pizzas, steaks, meats, sausages and desserts, with live cooking stations for the pastas, and also an Italian cooking demonstration.

      And on Wednesday there’s the BBQ Steak Night at Manora. Here you can opt for a flat rate of just 900 baht per person, or go for the ‘drinker’s dining menu’ which includes unlimited amounts of spirits, local beers, soft drinks and juices for a total of 1,499 baht each – but that’s limited to between the hours of 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm.

      On Thursday it’s a set dinner and Western cuisine. But every Friday is special as it’s Royal Thai Night at Manora, with a truly lavish spread including lots of à la minute barbecue items and a Thai classical dancing show. This show, as do all the others here, starts at 8:00 pm and lasts for the best part of an hour. Saturday night takes us back to The Barge again, where you can enjoy the popular Japanese Corner, with a whole range of sushi, sashimi and tempura. And you’ll also find steak on offer if that’s more to your liking, in this case, beef tenderloin, cooked while you wait.

      To top all of this off there are three more things that have to be said. The first is that the Nora Group are not only famous for their quality but for their pricing, too, and each of these evenings represents exceptional value for money. The second is that, on top of everything else, there is always a big salad bar to dig into, and lots of different fresh fruit and several sorts of gateaux for dessert – although you’d better get there fast as these are popular!

      And the final thing is that Sunday is a day of rest, although you can always avail yourself of the excellent à la carte menu, if you wish. Yes, I know it’s a disappointment that there’s not another splendid theme on offer, but all those courteous and hard-working staff need a break. And even gourmets such as you and I need to slow down once in a while!


Rob De Wet


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