Samui Wining & Dining
White Walls, Blue Lamps and a Red Hot Heart

Bistro Samui fills happy stomachs with fantastic cocktails, Thai and Western food. But it doesn’t just fill stomachs…

 

17People often travel in groups to Koh Samui to enjoy the five elements our paradise island has to offer, namely sun, sea, nature, food and drinks. Families can kayak at the nearby Angthong Marine Park; couples can watch the sunset and sip champagne in their romantic resorts; friends can scuba dive and party under Koh Phangan’s full moon. There is, of course, much fun to be had as a lone traveller too. By going solo, one can spend some quality “me-time” to examine life, explore new territories and be inspired. Achieving a new level of independence in a strange country also opens up prospects of meeting new friends and partners too. But for someone like me who prefers to live like a recluse, to read, write and self-indulge in the comfort of my own home, there is nowhere to run when loneliness strikes. For where are the friends that I haven’t already made? And the distraction of love that I sought to alienate?

    When strolling on the beach or driving on the road, I often see couples beaming adoration for each other, and friends asserting their celebration of youth by laughing and smiling. Looking at them, I can’t exactly say I am impervious to self-pity and envy. Therefore, I decided to make a change.

      So one day I threw books, notepads, pens, towels and sun-lotion in a large holdall and drove to Chaweng. Bearing in mind the best cure to writer’s block are cigarettes and martinis, I parked myself at Bistro Samui on Chaweng Noi Beach, having heard patrons proselytise the virtue of the restaurant and bar’s drinks menu. At noon, a lot of sun worshippers had already started their day soaking up vitamin D on Bistro Samui’s sun beds and sun loungers. Although the restaurant had already covered a large stretch of the powdery sand with such facilities, I had to make do with the white table and chair and wait my turn. But as a writer needs a surface to for their parchment; the current sitting arrangement would do just fine. When it comes to cocktails and drinks, I am massively loyal and decisive. It is always whiskey on the rocks for me but frankly, I was tempted by the benevolence of the drinks menu. My word! Tiny scripts entailing a full spectrum of spirits fill five pages. Aperitifs, vodkas, digestifs, tequilas, gins, rums and so forth make up over 100 offerings. "It is only noon and perhaps the day shall start slow", I resolved. I took advantage of Bistro Samui’s happy hour between 12:00 pm and 2:00 pm (and I could commence the drinking again between 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm when happy hour returns). For 90 baht I could choose from mojito, mai tai, daiquri, margarita, long island iced tea, sex on the beach and pina colada. Sex on the beach all the way.

      As the pen travelled eastwards and the drink southwards, a Chinese shih tzu hopped up and down next to me, begging for attention. I had an epiphany: loneliness calls for companionship, but it doesn’t have to come from human. I somehow persuaded the owner to let me care for the dog overnight, just to see if I am motherly enough for an animal that demands the same attention as a baby. Leaving the dog – Mimi – with me, the owner rejoined his friends for some burgers and beers in the red sofa area – which was located directly behind me. Perhaps he wanted to see if Mimi and I could get along.

       Nevertheless, after the group polished off their juicy beef burgers and sizeable portions of crispy chips, they waved their farewells and disappeared through the plant-lined entrance. The revving of their motorbikes signalled their departures from Bistro Samui’s parking space on the ring road, thus spelling a beginning for me and the dog. I studied the huge menu which offered picture references to a wealth of Thai and Western dishes. I opted for Bistro Samui’s staple, the king prawns with tamarind sauce at 430 baht. Now, I don’t know much about dogs, but this much I know: dogs don’t eat spicy. The restaurant manager kindly offered to keep the chilli out so that Mimi and I could share a dish together.

      I had a house white wine – chosen from a selection of Thai and Chilean offerings – to go with the beautifully decorated prawns which were served in their shells. It pained me to have to demolish this beautiful artwork, but when Mimi and I finally sank teeth into the orange meat, we didn’t stop to take a breath until our plates became sparklingly clean. The manager explained that the seafood at Bistro Samui is sourced fresh every morning, and I must come back to enjoy their evening seafood barbecue. Costing 1,990 baht for two persons, the set menu includes grilled sea bass, lobster, blue crab and king prawn; whereas the 990 baht alternative, also for two persons, comes with red snapper, squid, blue crab and tiger prawn. I have resolved to treat Mimi’s owner to Bistro Samui’s grilled seafood medley when we met again the following day.

      The next evening, Bistro Samui looked a completely different sight. The blue, red and yellow lampshades cast mellow shadows on the restaurant’s pristine white walls. White conical tents on the beach glowed incandescent to illuminate the clothed tables that were laid bare during the day. The seafood tray which had been empty when I visited before was now filled to the brim with glistening seafood (with a chalkboard adjacent to state the prices of each item per 100g). The only two things that stayed the same were the thick alcohol and food bibles. And the helpful staff dressed head to toe in white were equally smiley too.

      Eventually, Mimi’s owner appeared, and the three of us finished off the green salads and the gorgeous seafood that were grilled to perfection in the kitchen by Bistro Samui’s experienced chefs. After the meal, we moved our Thai white wine at 1,300 baht per bottle to the restaurant’s cocktail bar to continue our chitchat. We talked about about dogs, life, religion, love and everything else that crossed our minds. Was it the red table cloth that had lent an amorous touch to the atmosphere? Nevertheless, Bistro Samui certainly facilitated the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

 

Kawai Wong


 


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