Samui Wining & Dining
Thai Up Your Thursday Nights

Bandara Resort and Spa’s Chom Dao restaurant offers a unique event on Thursday evenings.


5Have bright spiralling lights caught your eye when driving around the island at night? As you get closer, the sounds of laughter and music drift from the venue, and the aroma from delicious food stalls wafts through the air. If you’ve been curious to know what it’s all about, but too shy to venture into what seems like a ‘local’ event – don’t be. You’d be welcome to join in the fun at these community fairs.

      Temple or community fairs are an integral part of Thai society. From small villages to cities, this is where the local communities gather to enjoy food, music, fun and games. They usually take place in temple grounds, but any unoccupied piece of land will do. In more conservative countryside areas, it’s taboo for teenage boys and girls to meet or socialise other than at these temple fairs, where there are plenty of eyes around to keep young hormones in line and ensure everyone behaves appropriately. Boys send secret messages to the girls to meet at the fair, and try escape the chaperones in the crowds. The girls dress up, and the boys try to impress them by winning prizes in the shooting and darts games. Live bands, karaoke and good food all make for a fun night out.

      So what does any of this have to do with Bandara’s Chom Dao restaurant? Well, Resident Manager, Khun James Taywakone, wished to recreate the atmosphere of the temple fairs on the beach in front of Bandara, to offer visitors to the island a taste of real Thai culture. So if you’re walking along Bophut Beach on a Thursday evening, you’ll be drawn by the spiralling neon lights, then by the sound of music and laughter, and then by delicious aromas wafting from the food stalls… sound familiar?

      Khun James has done an excellent job creating a more sophisticated version of a temple fair, and it takes place every Thursday evening. But instead of eating your takeaway food from disposable containers while walking around, relax in comfort at white-clothed tables that are set in the soft sand at the water’s edge. Surrounding the dinner tables are food stalls – each one manned by a chef. Rather than serving readymade food, dishes are prepared to order at these ‘mini show kitchens’, so they can be made to your liking – mild, medium or Thai-style.

       To be able to make the most of the evening and sample as many authentic Thai dishes as possible, the show-kitchen buffet is charged at a per head rate (650 baht per adult, 320 baht for children under 12 and under fives eat for free). Considering the quality on offer, this is well-worth the price.

       Having the dishes prepared in front of you means that curious foodies can see not only what goes into their favourite Thai dish, but also how it’s prepared. It also offers the opportunity to sample dishes you may have been too nervous to order before.

      So what can you expect in the deal? Well, for starters there’s a great bite-size appetiser that’s not available on many menus – Miang Kum. Here, you take a leaf and fill it with bits and bobs such as diced peanuts, toasted coconut, lime, chopped chillies and fresh herbs. You wrap the leaf into a cone and pop the whole thing into your mouth for a burst of flavours to get your taste buds tingling and ready for the rest of the spread. Other starters include both deep-fried and fresh vegetable spring rolls, fish cakes, shrimp cakes and deep-fried chicken dumplings with sweet-chilli sauce.

      Head to the soup stall next, where you have a choice of tom yum goong (spicy prawn soup with lemongrass, chilli, lime and mushrooms) or tom kha gai (chicken and coconut milk soup with Thai herbs and mushrooms).

      Other Thai favourites include phad Thai, which most people are familiar with (if you’re not, it’s fried rice noodles with prawns, tofu, bean sprouts and peanuts) and, less familiar to foreigners but well-worth trying, phad se-iew (fried flat noodles with meat). Moving from the noodles, try stir-fried chicken with cashew nuts, sweet and sour stir-fried pork or mixed vegetables in soya sauce. And of course, it wouldn’t be a Thai buffet without the curries, and several are on display here.

         Be sure to save space for dessert. Thais have a sweet tooth and their desserts are deliciously different to Western sweets. Mango with sticky rice is a firm favourite, but if you’ve over-indulged with the rest of the buffet, there are lighter options. Ice-cream lovers will enjoy nam kang sai – shaved ice. A ‘snow flake’ is decorated with syrup, red beans, taro, potato, breads and condensed milk. Or try nam kang teang – an iced popsicle with flavoured syrup.

         The equivalent of the West’s petit fours, to be enjoyed as a light dessert or on their own, are kanom khao grab pak – steamed rice skin dumplings, as well as kanom ko – sticky rice dumplings with grated coconut; these are definitely more-ish and you can watch them being rolled in the coconut while warm.

         The evening definitely makes for a fun family night, and guests are given tickets to use at the game stalls. Shoot at targets or throw darts at balloons to win prizes – the kids will love this! And if you’re after a few gifts or souvenirs, several stalls are dotted around selling handmade jewellery, bags and toys, and a sketch artist is on hand for an impromptu portrait.

         So if you’re looking to fill a Thursday evening, don’t miss ‘Thai night’ at Bandara Resort & Spa. Perhaps arrive early to catch the sunset and enjoy a few drinks at the beachside bar to start the evening off perfectly. It will definitely be on your list of nights to remember.


Rosanne Turner


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