Samui Wining & Dining
Kitchen King

We meet Chef Basam at Nadimo’s Lebanese restaurant in Bangrak.

 

Page-07Often, chefs pride themselves in being inventive and coming up with novel ideas, fusing cuisines from different countries and being flamboyant in their creations. For Chef Basam Abomorra at Nadimo’s, the challenge instead is sticking to authentic cuisine, keeping to recipes that have been passed down with care through generations of Lebanese families.

      Sometimes, keeping dishes authentic and traditional can be more of a challenge than throwing new ideas together. Care has to be taken to use authentic ingredients so that the taste, smell and texture are the same as that prepared in the country where they originate. For Richard Al Ghoul, owner of Nadimo’s, this is a very important factor. He wants his chefs to produce real Lebanese food the way it’s been for generations, and that’s why the kitchens of his restaurants (two in Bangkok and one here on Samui) are run by real Lebanese chefs.

      Five chefs rotate between the three establishments, including 35-year old Bassam. Having grown up in Lebanon, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavours are well known to him, but he honed his cooking skills by studying at the Lebanese Technical Cooking School in downtown Beirut.

     Before Richard recruited Basam to the Nadimo’s group, he was chef at the five-star Jana Resort, a tourist beachfront location in Beirut. He’s now been in Thailand for around one year, and having no family here means he’s free to move between Samui and Bangkok as he’s needed, enjoying both city and island life in his free time.

     Lebanese food has similarities with other Middle Eastern cuisine, and Lebanese flatbread is a staple to every meal, often used as a fork to scoop up the juices of delicious stews, dips and salads. The Nadimo’s menu offers a selection of the most famous Lebanese dishes, such as tabbouleh (chopped parsley and tomatoes with fresh, zesty citrus overtones), baba ghanoush (a smoky grilled eggplant dip), kebab (tender skewers of charcoal grilled lamb with chopped parsley and onions), and riz bil hallib (a desert made of rice and milk pudding with a rose syrup). But it’s hummus, a chickpea and sesame dip, that Nadimo’s is most famous for, and for which Chef Basam has earned the title ‘Hummus King’. His authentic Lebanese version (which traditionally doesn’t contain garlic) is silky smooth and ever so more-ish, perfect with warm bread. Here, a few variations of this delicious dip are on offer, aside from the regular version. Try the ‘Hummus Beiruti’ – pureed chickpeas with hot pepper, garlic, parsley, pickles and sesame oil, or the ‘Hummus Mushroom’, topped with sautéed mushrooms and onions. Popular with meat lovers, is the ‘Hummus with Lamb’, topped with diced lamb and pine nuts.

      Nadimo’s manageress, Sophia, speaks fondly of Chef Basam, and sings his praises. “He’s always in such a good mood and has such great energy”, she says. No Gordon Ramsay prima donna here! She goes on to say how well he’s liked by the staff and is professional at all times. “And of course, his food is delicious!” she exclaims.

       As Basam is Muslim himself, all food is prepared as per Halal standards in the kitchen – which is good to know, as there are very few Halal restaurants on the island, making Nadimo’s a draw card for Muslim tourists. But of course, you don’t need to be Muslim to enjoy well-prepared Lebanese food.

      Vegetarians can rest assured that all vegetable and meat dishes are prepared separately, and that vegetarian dishes are truly vegetarian, in that they don’t contain any eggs, and none of the salads contain meat either. But you’ll find equally delicious dishes for the carnivores, and in particular, lamb options, which is the main meat used in Lebanese cooking.

         Delicious food tastes even better in a beautiful setting, and it’s easy to see why Bassam enjoys working here so much. The Nadimo’s location on the seafront at Prana Beach Villas along the quieter western end of Bangrak makes it an ideal lunchtime or sunset venue. Dine during the day, and it’s the perfect opportunity to enjoy a dip in the beachfront infinity pool, or laze about on a sun-lounger with a cocktail or two after your meal. Should you be joining Nadimo’s for dinner, arrive in time for sundowners, as Bangrak beach offers some of the best sunsets on the island, a perfect way to start the evening.

         

Rosanne Turner


 


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