Samui Wining & Dining
Some Like it Hot!

Neo New World Tapas and Grill arrives on the Chaweng dining scene.


wining - dining 20-21The Spanish chef is hot, dark and lean, and cooks up a storm. His name is Josper, and he's the face of KC Beach Club’s new fusion tapas inspired restaurant – Neo – which is described as a ‘New World Tapas and Grill’.

      Now that we have your interest, with ladies wondering who the new Latino hottie in town is, and men on their guard, perhaps we should explain that Josper is in fact a state-of-the-art charcoal-fired combination grill and oven. Josper may be the face of Neo, taking centre stage in the show kitchen, but the man responsible for bringing him in is Executive Chef, David Lloyd.

       When the owners of KC Beach Club decided that the beachfront resort needed a makeover on the food and beverage side of things, they sought out the best man for the job. And so David arrived with a winning concept to shake the place up a bit and give Chaweng diners something different.

      Neo’s main dining area is an alfresco covered platform that sits at roof level above the show kitchen, perfectly positioned to catch the sea breeze and make the most of the views across the bay. Comfortable poly-rattan cushioned sofas offer no-rush dining, or grab a seat at the bar for a quick

bite. Although the main dining area is at this prime rooftop area, the Neo menu can also be enjoyed at the beachfront tables and beside the pool.

         So what exactly is a ‘new world tapas and grill’ menu? Well, David was instrumental in the opening of the very popular ‘Sushisamba’ restaurant in London, now an international brand; in fact it was his final project in the UK before moving to Thailand – and the menus have similarities. David explains, “The concept is to have food that’s an intense explosion of flavour. It’s fusion food, blending Brazilian and Peruvian flavours with Japanese. The result is food that isn’t formal, but is healthy, colourful and full of flavour, and has a little bit of a party vibe to it.”

         Most of the dishes at Neo are presented on wooden planks, most being bite-sized and easy to eat, as with tapas and sushi. Both sushi and tapas involve social dining concepts, and many of the planks are designed to be shared. Josper of course, forms the main focus of these dishes. The charcoal furnace reaches extreme temperatures, sealing in the flavour of the food, and with the grill/oven combination, the food seals and browns while cooking from the inside. This makes the cooking time about 35% faster than a conventional grill – so Josper really pulls his weight as an employee.

         Tapas from the grill include ‘Japanese eggplant sesame, miso, miren’, ‘asparagus with Bonito Truffle oil’, ‘pork rack with beer pickled onion, apple and ginger’, and ‘baby chicken in a whisky teriyaki lacquer’, to name but a few.

         You’ll find some interesting sharing planks to choose from, including a dozen oysters – choose any style from the oyster menu. Those feeling a little Latino at heart can try the ‘Salsa Plank for two’: chicken fajita sliders, tuna taquitos, corn chips, tomato salsa and guacamole. And you’ll find two sharing planks with a Mediterranean twist. First, there’s the ‘Cheese and Cold Cuts Plank’, which includes a selection of cheeses, smoked duck, chorizo and ham as well as pickles and bread. And equally as tempting is the ‘Mediterranean Plank’, which offers humus, pita bread, marinated olives, grilled aubergine and salsa. But if you’d prefer to go Asian, the ‘Japanese Plank’ brings rock shrimp tempura, soft shell crab sushi roll, tuna nigiri, salmon sashimi and grilled eggplant sesame.

         For those just feeling like a nibble, you can order snacks for the table, such as spiced nuts, rosemary focaccia bread with olive oil, or marinated Tuscan olives, and there’s a good selection of salads, sandwiches and soups too, that are served all day.

         While the sharing planks are great for a lunch treat, sometimes a more substantial meal is in order for the evening. And not to worry, as Josper has no problem working a double shift. Highlights of the dinner menu include the ‘Neo Josper Meat Grill’ – rib-eye, pork rack, lamb cutlets and chorizo, a winner for the carnivores. And those that prefer a seafood option will enjoy the ‘Neo Josper Seafood Grill’ – lobster, king prawns, scallops, squid and white snapper. There’s also a whole snapper. It’s steamed in banana leaves, served with coconut rice, pickles Asian pear and coconut relish.

         Wannabe chefs can try the hot-stone grill, which comes highly recommended by David, and gives Josper a little time off. Choose from top grade wagyu beef, ahi tuna or Salt Bush lamb fillet, which is sliced raw for you to sear to your liking on your own smoking lava stone. Each comes with a selection of oils, salts, sauces and pickles to complement your choice of meat.

         Neo can translate to ‘rebirth’, or ‘new and modern’. The name is fitting considering the transformation that’s occurred at KC Beach Club. You can still enjoy the resort’s regular beach parties, but for those looking for something fresh and trendy, yet unpretentious, then a visit to Neo will most certainly please.


Rosanne Turner


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