Samui Wining & Dining
Bringing it All Back Home.

Samui’s phone-for-food website finally gets the exposure it deserves!


Page-20If you’re old enough to remember the classic 1965 Bob Dylan album of the same name as the title, then you’re certainly of an age to be resident on Samui. Maybe I should give this story a different heading. Because what I’m about to tell you isn’t just for pensioners or ex-hippies. Not in the least. This service has been around for exactly one year now. But, for one reason or another, it’s been troubled with making enough of a dent to get its presence felt. It’s not an original idea but it’s a splendid one.

      Scenario 1. It’s a Saturday night, boys will be boys, and you’ve popped out to catch the football at your local sports pub. Euro footie tends to broadcast late over here. You caught a bite to eat earlier but now it’s midnight and you’re hungry again. All the local eateries have long-since shut, so you’re faced with a snack at 7-11 or . . . . Scenario 1a – same as #1, but you’ve planned to watch the soccer at home. You’ve laid in the essentials – beer –and you’re now pondering on what nibbles to get to go with this.

       Scene 2. Not wanting to be accused of sexism, let’s cut to a warm and balmy tropical evening and a couple of friends have dropped-by unexpectedly. You’ve had a few drinks and now you’ve all got the nibbles. Peanuts and crisps? No – everybody wants real food – but you’re all settled and comfy and don’t want to get up and go out. And scene 2a is the same plot but one person is gagging for pizza, another would kill for a jumbo burger with fries, and the very thought of a mixed grill is making everyone dribble.

      Then there are also scenes 3, 4, 5, 6 (etc) – all of them with the same thing in common. You’re at home and you’re hungry and you want real food, not a snack. This isn’t the sort of outline where you’re up for a party and have had weeks to plan it all with DJs and outside catering. This is a ‘gimme now!’ theme. If you were in London or Amsterdam then you’d probably be able to go online with a credit card and summon up anything you like. But this is Samui, a little island of ten thousand day-trippers and not enough residents to even make a daily newspaper sustainable. There’s a lot to be said for an unspoiled island paradise. But dial-a-meal is not one of them.

      Wrong. What if you could pick up a phone and order anything from one of eight or nine different quality restaurants? An award-winning mega burger made from fresh-ground Aussie beef. Anything from the menu of one of the best Italian restaurants on the island? Anything at all from a number of top restaurants? Well – you can. The system has been in place for a long time now. And you can check it out online by keying

      To be honest, it never fully got off the ground, and very few people have even heard about it. And that was always the problem. It’s a financial tight-rope between making a profit and how much it costs to tell people you’re here. “We tried sending out fliers and putting up posters,” explained the company’s overseer, Jo Altmayer. “But it’s a vicious circle. It was costing us more each month to advertise than we were making in profit. Word-of-mouth is great. But how can you get to the point where so many people are taking about you that the orders are flooding in every night? We struggled, but we survived. I ran one of the first restaurants to sign up with the scheme. It’s a simple idea. We get a good cross-section of quality restaurants to join. Then we offer their menus to the public. They give us a discount, and that’s our profit. Then you order from us on our extensive website menu and we deliver it to you.”

       Simple, isn’t it! The idea exists successfully in Bangkok under the name of ‘food by phone’. You can phone for food in the same way in Pattaya. But on Samui the idea is trying to get off the ground like the early days of flying machines – ever see those old clips of 20 pairs of legs running underneath an aeroplane, trying to lift it into the air? Samui just doesn’t have the customer base of other big cities. But, then again, it wasn’t so long ago that, on Samui, there was only one – just one – 7-11, and the only international ATM cash machine on the island was in Nathon. It’s only a matter of time before this scheme really takes off.

         What happens is this. Browse their website and decide what you want. Call the food-delivery phone number and tell them your order. They then get in touch with the appropriate restaurant(s) and go to the front of their customer queue. Ten minutes later a biker-boy picks up your order and sets off to deliver it to your house. Most orders take about 45 minutes to deliver. If you’re in the area of Chaweng you can cut this time in half. But there has to be a limit. “Ninety-five percent of the orders come in at night,” continued Jo. “It’s a bad road to Lamai, so we won’t deliver there – sorry. But we’ll go west as far as Maenam Soi 5. If you only want a bag of fries, then, please, try somewhere else! But if you have a multiple order then we’ll fit you in, even if you’re a bit further away.” But one word of advice. This is a guy, in the dark, on a motorbike with your order. Stay alert. Keep close to your phone and be prepared to guide him in, if necessary.

         And the best bit? The last orders are at 5:00 am. But you better make it worthwhile as, at this time of night, it will be only from one eatery, the Green Burger restaurant in Chaweng, and it’ll be Jo himself who sets off on his motorbike, so don’t be mean with the tip. Like most things, if you’re after ‘bringing it all back home’, you’ll need to give a little, so that you can take a little. Just ask Bob Dylan!

         Participating restaurants include such established names as Bondi, Noori India, Captain Kirk, Spagó, Cafe Uno and Piri-Piri, amongst others.


Rob De Wet


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