Samui Wining & Dining
Tired of Thai?

Not to worry – Samui has a vast array of international restaurants to choose from.


Page-14Some may think that it’s a crime to eat anything but Thai food when visiting Thailand – after all, ‘when in Rome’ as they say… except in this case, it’s ‘when in Thailand’. And this may be true if you’re only here for a few days. But let’s face it, there comes a day when we all feel like a change from the (albeit fantastic) flavours of Thai cuisine. You’ll find yourself craving a particular dish or ingredient, usually something not commonly found in Thai cuisine – cheese springs to mind. And as with most cravings, you’ll think of nothing else until it’s satisfied. Now you may think that Samui, being a small island in the Gulf of Thailand may be limited when it comes to fine-dining and international cuisine options. But, you’d be wrong.

      Samui is fast becoming known as a culinary hub in Southeast Asia. This is partly due to its appeal in attracting expats, who move here from all over the globe, many of whom set up restaurants. Whether it’s Italian, French, Japanese, or fusion food you’re after, you’ll find it on the island.

      And of course, you’ll find Thai food. Good Thai food. But it’s not that we’re focusing on here. The island draws not only top international chefs, but also some of the best chefs trained right here in Thailand, and these chefs

are keen to show the world not only what great Thai food is all about, but also the skills that they’ve picked up learning from the international chefs.

     Of course, having the big international hotel groups on the island only adds to the culinary talent pool, as the resorts bring in chefs from around the world to produce delicious food for their discerning guests. Gone are the days when Samui was only a backpacker haven. Sure, you’ll still find your fair share of budget accommodation and eateries, but now there’s an abundance of 5-star establishments too. And fancier hotels bring guests that are looking for more than just a cheap bowl of noodle soup on a street corner. These well-travelled guests are used to the high life, and they expect no less when visiting Samui. Luckily, they won’t be disappointed with the options available, be they stand-alone restaurants, or those within the resorts.

     Talk to any of the island’s top chefs, and you’ll discover that there’s a strong focus on fresh produce. Being an island, you would think that the choice of ingredients and supplies is limited. Not so, and Samui’s chefs have a vast supply of fresh fruit and vegetables grown on the island or brought in from the mainland. And seafood caught daily by local fishermen, couldn’t be fresher. The ingredients that aren’t produced locally are flown in fresh. When the island had no airport, and only had a few hotels requesting imported goods, this was a costly and logistically-challenging process. Now with so many chefs requesting foods from all other the world, it’s no longer an issue, and whatever chef wants, chef gets – be it truffles from Umbria, lobster from Maine, or salmon from Norway.

      There’s hardly a popular cuisine not represented on the island, and you’ll find Italian restaurants in particular abundance due to the large number of Italian expats on the island. In Chaweng alone, three popular establishments spring to mind, namely ‘Rice’, ‘Prego’ and ‘La Taverna’, all Italian owned and run, and all producing excellent authentic regional cuisine in vibrant setting

      Equally as popular is Mediterranean food in general, and many resort restaurants focus on this as their Western cuisine of choice. Particularly good Mediterranean options are H Bistro at Hansar Samui in Fisherman’s Village, Full Moon Restaurant at the newly refurbished Anantara Bophut, Le Jaroen at The Scent in Bangrak. Sticking with Mediterranean cuisine, if you’re a lover of Spanish tapas, then The Cliff, along the scenic drive between Chaweng and Lamai offers a tasty assortment of tapas as good as the view – perfect for a sociable lunch.

         If you’re craving lamb – rare on a Thai menu – then head to Nadimo’s Lebanese restaurant in Bangrak, where this meat features strongly on the menu. Their hummus is particularly good, creamy and full of garlic. And if you’re in the mood for a bit of spice, but don’t fancy Thai food, you’ll find a few excellent Indian restaurants on the island. A popular one, which also runs its own Indian cooking school, is Noori India in Chaweng. Feeling a little carnivorous? Then Zico’s Brazilian restaurant in Chaweng is the place to head. For a fixed price, and a reasonable one at that, you can eat as much as you like in this contemporary Brazilian grill house. It’s quite a fun experience too, with feather and bikini clad dancers entertaining the diners.

         Be sure to pick up your free copy of the Samui Dining Guide when you arrive on Samui, or browse the online version, found via a link on for a comprehensive selection of the best of what Samui has to offer. And of course, each month we’ll publish up to date info and inside news on what’s happening on the island’s restaurant circuit right here in Samui Wining & Dining.

         One of the best parts of travelling is sampling new cuisines, but also just relaxing and enjoying your favourite dishes in a new setting. So if you fancy Lebanese, Italian or Brazilian fare, don’t feel guilty about it, nobody’s judging if you don’t eat Thai food every meal!


Rosanne Turner


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