Samui Wining & Dining
In the Know

We look at another of Samui’s little gems – the excellent Bistro Samui in Chaweng Noi.


19Samui has some world-class restaurants. You’ll find that 5-star quality abounds and there are chefs here from all over the globe. Yes, when it comes to variety, not to mention sheer quality, our little island is hard to beat. But that goes for many lesser-known venues too – not all of the excellent eateries here are internationally renowned. There are dozens which are tucked away quietly, many of them right on the beach, where you can find banquets and barbecues fit for a king, and end up spending a lot less than you’d expect. And that’s why this month we’ve gone along to explore what’s on offer at the simply-named Bistro Samui.

    It’s true to say that Chaweng is the hub of the island; it’s certainly where everyone spends time, even if they’re dropping-in from elsewhere. And that makes Beach Bistro simplicity itself to find. There are no one-way systems to navigate, or complex directions to follow, just head along the ring-road to Chaweng’s neighbouring bay of Chaweng Noi. There are a few dips and rises, but when you get to the first big uphill stretch – just over one kilometre past the exit from Chaweng – slow down a bit. Bistro Samui is signposted on the left, as you come down on the other side.

The first thing that’ll strike you is just how pretty it is. There’s no pretensions of grandeur here at all – in fact it rather reminds me of something you might find on a beach in Cornwall or the Côte d'Azur. The theme is white and red: walls and surfaces (some solid, others textured or slatted for contrast) are all clean, bright white, but with the fabrics and furnishings being a jolly, fire-engine red. The restaurant is actually in two parts, right next to each other, both with dining tables, but one side with an extensive bar and the other with a very comfy lounge. Like many restaurants in Thailand there are no real ‘rooms’; the inner part is a roofed-over open-sided area and the outer part – well, what finer setting could you wish for than the 14 tables that are right on the sand itself, just a few metres away from the whispering sea?

      It might not seem immediately obvious, but here on Samui restaurants serve two functions. Obviously, they are where you go to dine in the evening. But they also offer plentiful attractions in the daytime, too. Maybe simply a change of scene from your own resort – an alternative to sunning yourself at the pool or beach. Perhaps a place to take note of, for when you’re heading back from a day trip or excursion; particularly if you’ve rented a bike or jeep and are cruising around exploring. Bistro Samui is just perfect for a daytime stop. You’re welcome to use the sunbeds, or relax under a sunshade to catch up with your emails. The view is expansive, with lots of empty sand, and there’s none of the end-to-end bustle of the sister-beach at Chaweng. In fact it’s rare to see a beach vendor, although there are a few about. The staff are pleasant and friendly, speak good English and are quick to respond to questions or queries. And you can stop-in anytime after they open at 10:00 am.

       But it’s really after dark that the place takes on a special character all of its own. Now that element of ‘redness’ beams out, emphasised by carefullyplaced down-spots and concealed lighting. Bistro Samui becomes a warmly-glowing oasis on a deserted beach, with the full glittering sweep of Chaweng’s coastline reflected and shimmering across the bay. And, at night, there’s a wider choice of fare on offer, too.

      The big difference is the seafood BBQ station that appears on the beach; you can select the items you want and watch them being char-grilled exactly as you like them. The menu is wide and varied, and can essentially be sectioned into seafood, meat, pasta, pizza, Thai food and snacks (although the sandwiches and burgers are usually more popular in the daytime). One of the nice things is that crab features widely on the Thai menu – usually traditional Thai food ignores this delicacy (it’s more of a Chinese-Thai element). There are some unusual and delicious items to be found here – try the Khao Ob Saparot, for example: crab and broccoli fried rice presented in a half-pineapple.

      And several of the meat items are the tender imported cuts from New Zealand, which is always welcome to see. It’s most definitely not your average ‘steak ’n’ chips’ approach either, far from it. You’ll be no doubt pleasantly surprised to discover the ‘Rib Eye with Caramelised Onions, Goat’s Cheese and Balsamic Tartufo Reduction’. And, if you’re a duck sort of person, the ‘Duck Breast in Orange Brandy’ will go down a treat, especially when you notice its price of 380 baht. Another pleasant note on this: the menu prices are actually what you pay. There’s no tax to add, and the amount of the tip at the end is entirely up to you!

      When it comes to the ‘wining’ to go with your ‘dining’ – another set of top marks. There’s an unexpectedly-large range of Old and New World wines, together with lots of local and imported spirits, plus mixers, and a big selection of cocktails – with the added joy of discounts during the happy hour from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. But just one word of caution in the midst of all this exuberance. You’ll definitely need to book. Well, if you want one of the coveted beach tables, that is. Take note – although it’s still really lovely just a few feet away on the terrace.

      It’s altogether a bit of a hidden gem, down at Bistro Samui. It’s one of those excellent little eateries that are tucked away and out of sight, and you really need to be ´in the know’ to be able to enjoy it. But now you are!

Rob De Wet


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