Samui Wining & Dining
On a Theme

The art of savouring your food at the buffet evenings at View Pha Ngan, Melati Beach Resort & Spa.


7Those of you who have been here for more than a day or two will have noticed something curious. You’ll have wandered around in the daytime, through all the tropical greenery and past those deep blue swimming pools. The sand is white and the sea stretches away to meet the vault of the hot, high sky way overhead. It’s all so big and bright and open and sunny. But when night falls …

Everything changes, as if by magic. Hundreds of lights wink on, some twinkling wrapped around the trees, other dropping warm splashes that make the foliage glow. It’s another world; a different dimension that has a presence all of its own. This is the evening island. This is the time for holding hands and taking things slowly. A time to wine and dine and relax. It’s like this everywhere, all over Samui. But it’s particularly noticeable at Melati Beach Resort & Spa.

‘Melati’ is one of Samui’s more exclusive resorts. It’s sumptuous and luxurious and bang up-to-date, having only come into existence at the end of 2007. It rides proudly on the current wave of top-end resorts, being a positive ‘getaway’. It’s a place where people come to turn their backs on the rat-race, the madding crowd and all the other epithets that represent the curses of modern living. It’s remote and peaceful, being hidden away on Samui’s north-eastern extremity at Thongson Bay – although, in reality, this is only a 10-minute drive from Chaweng. And it’s also one of the largest resorts on the island, sitting on 52,000 square metres, and that translates to more than half a square kilometre!

And what that means is that, when you make your way at night through the verdant grounds towards the restaurant at the edge of the beach, there’s a myriad of lights in a non-stop fairyland that twinkles, sparkles and glows all around. You’ll be spellbound as you drive through this landscape. Drive? Yes, as it’s all too big to find your way on foot. You be guided to one of the waiting golf carts outside reception and taken there through the splendour of the night.

Although the resort has a superb fine-dining venue, Kan Sak Thong, which features the rarely-found Royal Thai Cuisine, I’m writing about the other restaurant. The one that goes by the name of View Pha Ngan. The twisty lanes that wind through the rampant and mysteriously-lit greenery suddenly drop away and you’re on the edge of a clearing. There’s a large amorphously-shaped pool, thronged in the day but now glowing a deep and silent blue. And beyond it is the alluring warmth of View Pha Ngan. There’s a welcoming little beach bar at its edge, thatched and circular. And the open-sided restaurant itself drops away in small tiers and terraces right onto the sand. This is where, twice a week, Melati holds its excellent buffet theme nights.

There’s something particularly special about a barbecue on the beach. Yes, it’s refined and elegant to sit in silver-service splendour on a terrace that overlooks the beach but, when it comes down to it, wiggling your toes in the sand with the water whispering next to you is what it’s all about! And here the fairyland asserts itself with firm splashes of spotlighting picking out the ordered rows of gleaming tables that bear a feast fit for an emperor.

You’ll need to come on either a Tuesday or a Friday for their buffets. And on Tuesdays you’ll be able to enjoy ‘Thai Night’. Straight away, let it be said that there’s Thai food and there’s Thai Food. Meaning that gourmet Thai food, made with prime cuts of imported meat and corn-fed chicken, is even more scrumptious than ever. Dishes, such as ‘roasted marinated boneless chicken in satay spices and coconut milk’ or ‘wok-fried crab in yellow curry, celery and spring onions’, will leap out at you. As will the ‘roasted duck breast and eggplants in red curry’. This is fine-dining but on the beach. Staff hover discreetly and your empty plates will simply disappear just at the right moment. There’s a busy live-cooking station where the beaming Executive Chef, Khun Sumit Potiket, directs his team to cook-up the stir-fry noodle dish of choice or your pad Thai or satay. Just order it, wander about and fill your plate with other goodies and it’ll be waiting on your table when you return. The ‘art of the buffet’ is to take your time: nibble, drink, talk, drink, relax – repeat. And this is a great place to do it.

Naturally, there’s entertainment, too. And, being Thai Night, at 8:00 pm you can enjoy an hour of the bouncy folk-style Pong Lang dancing. The costumes are resplendent and the music is lively, as befits this dynamic genre.

On a Friday, you’ll find the same setting but a different script. This is ‘BBQ Night’. And here there’s a truly lavish selection of items on offer. There are appetisers of seafood, meat, chicken and one of the biggest salad bars I’ve ever seen. Plus soups and pastas, and mains featuring lobster, squid, tiger prawns, fish, Australian beef, Jordanian lamb and even English sausage. But leave space for the dessert! There are enough goodies here to fill a patisserie and if I hint at pecan pie, blueberry cheesecake, chocolate cake, banana crumble or ginger crème caramel, you’ll see what I mean. There’s also the Thai dance show, too, at 8:00 pm, to give your system a bit of a break for an hour!

Melati is very much a family resort and so is aware of smaller appetites – children are half-price. The cost of each buffet varies slightly, with the Thai Night priced at 1,150 baht per head and the BBQ Night at 1,250 baht. The evening begins at any time after 6:30 pm and winds-down at around 10:30 pm, although the bar remains open until midnight. But there’s just one thing I need to point out. It takes most of the day to set all this up and it’s just not possible to whisk it away if it starts to rain. So, sometimes in the low season, or if the weather is decidedly iffy, expect to find this up on the terraces and under cover.

Most resorts offer a barbecue evening or a buffet of some kind at least once a week, and very fine they are, too. But here it’s something different. At Melati Beach Resort & Spa it’s not only a buffet – it’s an evening in fairyland, too!


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