Samui Wining & Dining
High Time for Tea

Romance is in the air at Bandara Resort & Spa.

 

8-9We’re a thoughtful bunch. It’s not enough that we, the writers here at Wining & Dining, get to sample the best of Samui’s cuisine. It’s also our mission to share. We’re all keen enough that, when we find somewhere new or some kind of special offering, we just have to spread the news. We are compelled to help others by pointing out the places and things that you’d otherwise never get to know about. And this month I’m pleased to be able to blow culinary trumpets on behalf of Bandara Resort & Spa.

      Bandara has been around for a while. It’s one of those grand resorts in Bophut which were built in an era when the label ‘lavish’ went hand-in-hand with acres of real estate, too. Unlike some resorts, where the layout is a marvel of architectural compression, Bandara is big. It spans a substantial plot between the ring-road and the beach, just a little way west past the traffic lights leading to Fisherman’s Village.

      The grounds are scattered with mature trees, bushes, ponds and water features, with the shady cottages peeping through the foliage. The path towards the beach wanders lazily around lawns and through leaf-dappled salas spanning streams until, suddenly, you emerge from the greenery and into the

open. In front of you is the pool, with its backdrop of the sea, the sky, and the island of Koh Pha-Ngan. And to the right is the resort’s signature restaurant, Chom Dao.

      Chom Dao is a beachside restaurant – but you won’t realise this right away, as it’s one of those place that seems to unfold as you enter. And it’s put together in the traditional Thai style: essentially a big roof with a space underneath and open on three sides. In this case the floor-space is cleverly terraced; this not only breaks up the layout but creates a series of ‘areas’, too. There’s the shady inner sanctum, with the heavy mahogany tables and chairs. There’s a slightly lower terrace that fringes the beach. And then there’s the walkway around the side of the pool that’s called into play for special occasions. Plus, of course, there’s the beach itself, where you’ll find yourself if you have romance on your mind – the gastronomic sort, naturally!

      James Taywakone is the very cheerful and laid-back general manager here. But beneath that genial interface lies a very thoughtful business mind. For some years, he’s been gradually introducing newer and more attractive elements, both in general, and in the restaurant in particular. “Unlike some resorts,” he told me, “we positively welcome visitors from outside. Usually we’ll charge a nominal fee for the use of pool towels and the facilities. But this charge is waived if you dine here too.”

      All well and good, but that’s an evening affair and nobody is going to wait about round the pool until it gets dark! James was quick to put me straight here. “Ah,” he continued, “we’ve got several other options. And in any case the best time for visitors is in the afternoon, and to take in the sunset.” And then he went on to explain that the happy hour is pitched to maximise this – and so is the High Tea.

       There are not so many places that offer an afternoon gourmet experience. And here the High Tea is really something rather special. It’s enough for two people. And it’s presented on one of those lovely glass three-tier cake stands. The top layer is a riot of fruits: strawberries, melon balls, dragon fruit, papaya, and cantaloupe. Beneath this, you’ll discover the sandwiches. Everything is lovingly presented and the chef – Khun Pamon – has taken the trouble to make these circular with crinkly edges. And the lower layer is a gasp-making riot of pastries (all made in-house) with chocolate and fruitcake and, of course, the English scones complete with jam and cream. Plus you get as much tea or coffee as you can drink; constant refills on tap, as it were.

      However . . . there is a way to bridge the gap between the sunset and that special romantic dinner – and enjoy the effects of happy hour, too. This is where the romantic gastronomy comes in. Because Chom Dao is featuring a unique ‘Seafood Basket on the Beach’. And, believe me; you’ll need to pace yourself if you want to enjoy the dessert, too!

       Your personal waiter will attend you on your private table (on the sand and facing the sea) that’s suitably bedecked with candles and flowers. There’s a complimentary glass of wine each to start, before the Caesar Salad appears as an appetiser. Then there’s a choice of soups. But the highlight almost needs two to carry it. There’s a whole Phuket lobster, plus small rock lobsters, mussels, prawns, squid and crab. And then you can specify what you want with it – all included in the price – fries, mashed, boiled, baked or sautéed potatoes. Or even pasta or salad if you wish. Or permutations of any these. But you’ll need to be exact about this when you make the booking; it’s not possible for chef Pamon to conjure up pasta or a baked potato while you’re dining. And to finish it all off there’s a lovely big fire lantern to sign-off with.

         See? I told you it would be special. Another bonus is that all the prices at Bandara Resort &Spa, and their Chom Dao restaurant, are what you see on the menu; there’s no ‘plus plus’ with tax on top. So I can definitely say that it’s high time you went there. Or should that be ‘time for high tea’? Or even maybe ‘high time for high tea and romance’? Whatever! Either way it’s another scoop, brought to you hot off the press from the food writers who care. Enjoy!

         

Rob De Wet


 


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