Samui Wining & Dining
Raising the Bar

Impiana Resort has always been an exceptionally good place to dine, but you can now enjoy their laid-back beach bar, too.

 

5Impressions are important. First impressions are vital. And what we are impressed by counts for a lot. We’re impressed by 5-star quality, for example. Because it implies the best of the best. Sadly, it also costs an arm and a leg. It’s the reason why a great many people keep away. They have the impression that dining out at a top restaurant is expensive – it’s reserved for birthdays or special occasions. And that’s why impressions can also be misleading. Because, at Impiana, it’s not expensive at all.

      Impiana Resort is in Chaweng Noi, just around the corner from the main strip of Chaweng Beach, only a few minutes away by road. It’s a gracious and gentile resort, terraced in layers down the rock cliffside that characterises this part of the coast. The layout here is straightforward, and the first thing that you’ll see after coming up the steps and leaving the airy lobby is the restaurant. Well, both restaurants actually, although you won’t realise this for a moment or two.

      Due to the downwards slope there are actually two restaurants, one on top of the other. The first that appears is Tamarind. This is divided into two sections: a comfy open-sided lounge area with sofas and loungers, a big TV, and a bar at the far end. At the front of this area, separated by a couple of steps down, there is a broad and open-fronted terrace with a stunning sea view. This is the dining area. Immediately below this and right alongside the pool, overlooking the beach, is Sabai, the resort’s

all-day diner. This is essentially an open-sided inner area, cool and shady, with a broad (unroofed) outer terrace. Sabai really is about as close to the beach as you can get and indeed, on beach-buffet evenings, offers an alternative to sandy feet – although most folk seem to prefer the beach. (More about those buffets in a moment.)

      And then, with its deep sofas and daybeds, there’s the squeaky-new Beach Bar – although to call it a ‘bar’ typifies the modest understatement you’ll find at Impiana. It’s utterly gorgeous! Here, they definitely have a thing about building on two floors; the lower level is more of less what you’d expect. It’s a roofed-over rectangular space, with a bar in the middle and stools around the edge. But the open-deck upper level is something else! The whole edifice is built around a gigantic fruit tree. The upper deck has been cunningly situated so that half of it is in dappled shade, whereas in the other half you can stretch out on the daybeds and catch the rays. Or, if you’re a shady character, flip up one of the gigantic parasols instead.

      There are two menus: one is for daytime nibbling, and is generally a broad spectrum of International and Thai dishes. In hot climates, people tend to eat more sparingly during the day, and the available choices reflect this. And then there’s the evening dinner menu, which kicks in at around 6:30 pm. There’s a much wider selection of platters here, ranging from appetisers to a range of salads, meat, poultry and seafood dishes, pastas and pizzas, some super desserts, and a full Thai menu too. And here’s the best bit. As mentioned, some people are put off from venturing out to a quality hotel restaurant due to the cost. At Impiana the service is excellent. The range and quality of the fare is impressive. You can opt to dine upstairs at Tamarind, on the terrace below at Sabai, or even on the laid-back top deck of the Beach Bar if the fancy takes you. All this – and yet the average cost of a main dish is only 270 baht or so.

       “It’s all about being competitive,” the resort’s General Manager, David Xavier, pointed out. “I think at Impiana we offer a choice of locations, each with a different outlook and ambiance, and that’s something visitors to the island may not find at their own resort. It’s difficult for people to find their way around a strange new place, especially at night. That’s why we run a free shuttle-bus service between here and Chaweng. And then there’s a super range of quality dishes at competitive prices,” he added. “All-in-all it adds up to a popular and pleasant dining experience, and we all work hard to keep it this way!”

      And if it’s a great night out with a sit-down à la carte meal you’re after, head directly for the ‘Braised Lamb Shank in Red Wine with Scallion, Mashed Potato and Baby Carrots’. Or, if it’s a taste of Thailand that appeals, there are a couple of intriguing items here: New Zealand mussels in either red or green curry soup. These really are delicious and a credit to Thai Executive Sous Chef, Khun Mas.

       But if it’s an under the stars and toes-in-the-sand experience that appeals, then bookmark a Monday or a Friday evening, as these are the beach buffet nights. On Monday, it’s the all-you-can-eat Thai Buffet that’s held on the beach – although on both evenings you can lounge about on the upper deck of the Beach Bar if that’s your preference. And Friday evening sees the very popular BBQ Night. The range of meat and fresh seafood is second to none, with live cooking stations to prepare everything just the way you like it. Not to mention that the team here have pegged the price all the way down to just 590 baht for the Thai buffet and 690 for the BBQ.

         The free shuttle bus leaves from the back of McDonald’s in Chaweng (down the steps at the back and on the lake road outside) at 5.30 pm every day, and will run you back again at 10:00 pm. That’s just in time for sundowners to start with and, what with the 2-for-1 ‘all day happy hour’, a welcome return back again after you have ‘razed the bar’!

         

Rob De Wet


 


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