Samui Wining & Dining
The Passage to The Terrace

One of Samui’s most chic resorts offers value for money dining that’s hard to beat.

 

21I think it’s pretty much general knowledge that Samui now has an assortment of 5-star hotels. Anyone who’s been coming here regularly for more than just a few years will have run out of fingers to count them on. These are the big boys. The international chains. The household names. The blue-chip stock of the hospitality industry.

      But what many people aren’t aware of (although it seems to make perfect sense) is that there’s also an expanding strata of top-notch boutique resorts. Resorts that offer a superb level of luxury and service, and have tip-top facilities. But they’re usually smaller, they’re privately owned and tend to be either one-of-a-kind, or part of a small and exclusive private chain, which doesn’t number into the dozens or span the globe. There are quite a few of these gems to be found now, tucked away around the island, and one of them is The Passage.

      The Passage Samui Villas & Resort, to give it its full title, came on the scene just over four years ago. It’s located in one of the more select parts of Samui, accessible from the ring-road, yet totally secluded on its own little bit of headland, and with a pure white picture-postcard beach – utterly private and deserted – that borders the property and curves around the small bay.

The easiest way to describe how to find it is to point out the landmark of the big steep hill just outside Nathon (on the Maenam/Chaweng side). Heading away from the direction of Chaweng go up and over and down towards Nathon. And just as the hill levels out you’ll see the clear signposts on either side of the road, pointing to a small track.

      I’ve gone into some detail about where it is, simply because this is one of those ‘hidden gems’ that all we foodies here at Samui Wining & Dining agree is on the list of fab places to eat. And that doesn’t just mean gourmet cuisine that’s fit for kings, it also means exceptional value for money, too. Add to that the magnificent sunsets and the strategically timed 2-for-1 happy hour, and it’s a done diary date. However, you won’t need to fumble about on unfamiliar roads to get there – they kindly offer a shuttle service from Chaweng – more details of this later.

      The tone is set as soon as you arrive at reception. Design-wise, everything’s low, clean, modern looking but with Asian motifs, simple, tasteful and elegant. You’ll find that this theme is consistent throughout and, now I come to think of it, might well apply to the cuisine here, too. (Although the colour scheme certainly won’t stretch that far – not unless you’re planning to eat biscuits and ice-cream with a side order of teak, that is!) There’s nothing built here that’s in conflict with the natural elements around – there’s space and greenery, order and calmness everywhere you look. And, somehow, this aesthetic has crossed the boundaries into the atmosphere here: it’s a place that, as soon as you walk inside, just oozes a sense of tranquillity and peace.

       With the spaciousness of the layout, the broad wooden decking and neat green lawns, the realisation that there are 50 pool villas and rooms comes as a surprise. It somehow seems less. But following the wide central avenue towards the sea soon reveals the point of our story, the resort’s equally open and laid-back restaurant, The Terrace. The broad decking continues onto the terrace itself that borders the dining area and fringes the beach – there’s room overall for 80 people here (but this sort of number you’ll only see at weddings, for which The Passage has something of an enviable reputation). It’s only a step or two down onto the sand, and that’s also where you’ll often tables spread for a barbecue or a special theme night.

      Slavo Hus is the resort’s engaging Food & Beverage Manager, and he’s evolved some very direct thinking on the essential nature of good wining and dining. “It goes without saying that the quality of all the ingredients must be the best,” he told me, “but there’s more to it than just this. We need diners. We need to balance the cost of super food so that people want to come back. Unless the menu is great but also affordable, then everybody is going to miss out – particularly our potential diners!”

       The man in charge of putting it all on your plate is the affable and experienced Khun Moo. He has already notched up both experience and status by having served time in international restaurants in Saigon and Singapore, as well as Bangkok at the prestigious Central Plaza Hotel, before coming to Samui to take a post at Prana Beach Villas, possibly Samui’s most adventurous vegetarian restaurant. His menu is an intriguing blend of International and Thai dishes, but with just the right amount of ‘fusion’ to make the dishes tantalising rather than pretentious.

         There are the expected sections of starters, soups and pastas, followed by a prime seafood-dish selection and a range of all-imported Australian beef, lamb and pork choices. And if I make the point of telling you that the most expensive item on the menu (other than the huge seafood platter for two) – the Australian sirloin or tenderloin – is less than 600 baht, then you’ll understand what Slavo meant about customers coming back. And all the prices already include tax.

         “The most delightful time of day here is coming up to sunset,” Slavo continued. “We have a shuttle-bus pick-up from McDonald’s in Chaweng at 4:00 pm and, after an hour on the beach, the happy hour kicks in. The à la carte menu is always available, but several nights a week, depending on the season, we run a beach barbecue with a fire show, and also a Thai Night with classical dancing. Plus our range of wines is something special too, and I select every label myself. And there’s a special every month with wine at well under 1,000 baht a bottle and with a discount on a second bottle. To find out what’s going on, check our Facebook page. It’s constantly updated. Or you could call us on the number below,” he added with a grin, “to make sure you book The Terrace at The Passage!”

         

Rob De Wet


 


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