Samui Wining & Dining
No Doubt a Foodgasm…

H-Bistro’s Dinner Special offers dishes that blur the line between heaven and earth.


14-15Up on a hill in a swanky bar, a man told me he came to Samui to purge. Hailing from the city where he lived too fast and loved too slow, thought too much and meditated too little, his soul was on the verge of annihilation by the concrete jungle's monetarist, elitist and materialist doctrines. The man dropped everything and came to the island to rebuild his bridge of 'me, myself and I’. We toasted to his new beginning, and after he departed in a whirlwind of happy bravura, the barman beckoned me for a nightcap as he blew out the last candle in the house. The weathered face reminisced the days when he roamed the hills and swam the sea; stopping only to pick a coconut to refresh. He lamented the new monolithic shoreline that mercilessly fortified his island which was once a serene paradise. As I drove off in darkness that night, I pondered: why the antagonism? Why do we let ourselves go to the extreme? In life’s journey, does a middle of the road exist at all? But life is like a Samui road: we are as left or as right as the width of the tarmac allows. There’s no dotted line that defines - it's all in our heads

    Work versus purge, man versus nature, modernity versus originality - do all these contradictions have to be so black and white? They don't; in the same way that the advancement of humanity should simply be based on the harmony of mutual inclusivity. And indeed H-Bistro, at Hansar Samui at the western end of Fisherman's Village, is a welcome realisation of just that. As we sit on wooden chairs that epitomise calculated ergonomic comfort, we are also confronted by God's glistening play-pool to the front, where metal birds glide above to ferry visitors home. To our right, tungsten-illuminated pool-side banquettes shine a romantic reflection on the surface of the infinity pool. This perfect blend of nature-nurture vista is also in full view of Executive Chef Stephen Jean Dion's state-of-the-art kitchen. As diners marvel at Chef's artistry through the open plan kitchen, he in turn can observe his guests' reactions as they work their way through his plates of mini orgasms at the prestigious Chef's Table. Carved out of a single piece of solid teak-wood, the six metre table is large enough to accommodate up to 20 corporate high fliers or a troop of merrymakers on special occasions. For 2,400 baht per foodie, they can enjoy a specially designed menu cooked up using fine ingredients such as foie gras, lobster, prawns and pigeon.

      Since the said table dwarfs our party of two, we stroll through the restaurant in search of a table that matches our needs. After meandering through the upstairs bar/dining area (called the Chill Lounge) which is decked out with sun beds and loungers, we decide on the al fresco terrace, which precedes the spacious interior whose floor to ceiling windows pan out to a 270 degree view of the surrounds. For our table, fire-torch and tea lights lend a warm glow to our chilled glasses of white, as chosen from the three-page international wine list. The champagnes, whites, roses and reds are grouped into helpful categories such as crisp, serious and aromatic and zesty, with prices starting from 1,500 baht.

      But really, we are not merely here for the view or the drinks. We are paying pilgrimage to Chef Stephen. The native Canadian's cooking has long been attracting foodies from near and far; and today, our objective is no exception. After consulting the extensive menu that serves authentic French Mediterranean dishes and a range of Thai classics, we resolve to go for the Dinner Special. At 3,750 baht per couple, this four-course dinner begins with a porcini amuse bouche that leaves a wild flavour that lingers in the mouth long after the delight has been fondly swallowed.

       The appetiser, the Hokkaido octopus and seared Alaskan scallops, is a sensational amalgamation of texture and fragrance. With a lattice of parmesan crisp sitting on top, and cubes of white balsamic crystals encircling the lime-infused fresh scallop, a vivid vision of the turquoise sea springs to mind. Having mopped up the last droplet of the avocado and tomato sauce that supported the scallop, we cleanse our palates with a zesty shot of fresh apple glacier with suspended caviar balls. We jostle our ruthless impatience while waiting for the next course.

      And it is worth the hiatus. As the waiter looms on the horizon with our plates, we shift as if Pavlov's dogs. The middle course is a triptych of sea trout cooked in two styles accompanied by a side salad. Presented on a long rectangular platter which acts as the canvas for a bed of finely cubed trout and a delicate dollop of pate resting on a thin base of apple jelly, the last of the triptych is a surprise of cream buried beneath a pinch of rocket tossed in an invigorating dressing. While the amazing work of art stares at us eagerly, the basket of freshly baked bread dazzles in the corner, tempting us with their titillating presence and aroma. When we finally surrender to this carbohydrate seduction, we are in heaven.

      The next course, the pork tenderloin risotto, is all al-dente and flavoursome perfection. However, it acts only as a prequel to the main courses. We greedily ferry fork-to-mouth the gloriously chunky sea bass on a cloud of potato mash and the melt-in-the-mouth duck dabbed in a perfumed plasma of porcini.

      The culminating culinary merriment is reminiscent of Renoir's garden party. But without sounding blasphemous, we doubt Renoir could top Stephen's coconut ice cream wrapped in pineapple skin, which floats on a broth of passion fruit and orange juice. We close our eyes to savour the rainbows in our mouths, only to see birds and stars tearing through our blown minds... We are suitably intoxicated by the whole experience.

      Some say that lust is sinful. But when it comes to confronting H-Bistro’s sensory seduction, don’t agonise – succumb. The culinary satisfaction one encounters here is similar to cruising in a convertible at midnight; only dining here is more liberating.


Kawai Wong


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