Samui Wining & Dining
Signature Dish

The signature dish at Galanga Restaurant & Art Gallery is rich

with authentic Thai ingredients.


25Walking down Chaweng Beach Road, you’re drawn in to the inviting interior of Galanga, with its light wood finishes, and assortment of artwork adorning the walls. The setting is elegant, yet relaxing, and it’s a perfect escape from the craziness of Chaweng.

      Those who want to watch the passers-by can pull up a chair at one of the tables on the front patio and enjoy the street view. Here you’ll see a vast selection of fresh seafood on display – a main focus of the menu. The restaurant is spread over two levels, so if you’d still like to be outside, but prefer to be above the crowds, grab a table at the cosy upper terrace, which looks down over the street.

      Inside, you’ll find comfortable seating on cushioned benches as well as chairs, and an elegant bar. A tree forms a focal piece, growing through the gap in the second floor dining room. The restaurant is breezy and cooled by fans, and being on two levels, means that both smokers and non-smokers can have their own dedicated areas. Little ones haven’t been forgotten, and an enclosed playroom is located upstairs, complete with games console, a play-kitchen and other toys to amuse the kids while mum and dad relax over

a glass of wine.

      Speaking of wine, Galanga has an impressive selection in a glass showcase taking up a wall on the lower floor. Wines are grouped by country and marked with their respective flags, so it’s easy to select a bottle from your favourite region. Another feature of the restaurant is that all artwork – down to the lotus-leaf place mats, is for sale. The dining rooms are filled with paintings, sculptures and metal wall hangings, and hand-woven basket ware hangs from the central tree – so while you’re waiting for your meal to arrive, do have a look around, and you may just find that perfect holiday souvenir.

      So moving on to the signature dish. Owner, Khun Jeab explains that at Galanga, authentic Thai flavours are important. (The Western dishes are equally as good for those not in the mood for Thai food). With fishing being an important industry on the island, in a restaurant with a strong focus on authentic Thai cuisine, it goes without saying that the signature dish is seafood. Tamarind sauce, which is sweet and sour, with just a hint of spice, forms the focus of the dish – well dishes, actually. This flavourful sauce can be enjoyed with a whole pan-fried white snapper (480 baht), or with a plate of king prawns (390 baht).

     Presentation is paramount, and when the fish arrives on a platter (it’s too big for a dinner plate), it’s hard not to be impressed. But this isn’t a case of a good-looking dish with no substance - this dish follows through on taste too. The fish has been filleted, aside from the main spine, and is first steamed and then pan-fried with the tamarind sauce. An assortment of crisply fried herbs intensifies the flavours, as well as acting as garnish, and the fish is kept moist by the tangy sauce. The tamarind is cooked up with onion, garlic and ginger, and flavouring the sauce are fried peanuts, crispy fried onion and garlic, peppercorns, fried kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, as well as fresh coriander and fried chillies. If ordered with rice, the fish will easily feed two people.

      If you prefer prawns, the same delicious flavours can accompany a pyramid of king prawns, and vegetarians don’t need to miss out on the delicious sweet, sour and spicy flavours, as Khun Jeab explains that if they let the waiter know, the kitchen can prepare tofu with the same sauce.

       Not all Westerners are familiar with tamarind, but it forms an integral part of Asian cooking, and so you’ll often find it used in authentic Thai cuisine, which is well represented at Galanga. The base of any tamarind sauce is the pulp of the tamarind fruit, either as a paste, as a juice, or as a concentrate. More often than not, most people’s first introduction to it in Thai cooking is in pad Thai, giving this noodle dish its distinctive flavour. It’s also used in many marinades, barbecue sauces, chutneys, and curry sauces, as well as on its own as a dipping sauce for appetisers.

         Galanga restaurant is located on Chaweng Beach Road, next to Spago (another great restaurant by the same owner), just a few hundred metres north of Central Festival Samui, and is open for lunch and dinner. Just under a year old, Galanga is still the ‘new kid on the block’ down a strip with hundreds of restaurants vying for customers – yet, it’s quickly made a name for itself, not only for its attentive service, but also its authentic Thai cuisine.


Rosanne Turner


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