Samui Wining & Dining
The Colourful Palate

The Seafood Palate restaurant in Lamai is drawing diners from far and wide.

 

5One of the best bits of food writing I’ve seen wasn’t written by me! Joking aside, it was written by a diner who was so impressed that she just had to put fingers to keyboard. I’ve got mixed feeling about TripAdvisor, simply because it’s just too easy to blast-off about nothing, and then it’s carved in stone for all to see. But the knack here is to read between the lines, and play the game of ‘spot the spoiled kid’ or widower or grumpy pensioner, whatever. But there’s no dismissing the good reviews. And, at the end of a restaurant report, one woman wrote the definitive lines, “. . . the quality is like a hotel but the cost is the same as a street restaurant.” And this was written about Seafood Palate, in Lamai.

      I have to confess I admired this simple statement. In just a few words, it said a great deal. But it’s true. If you’ve been following the foodie scene here on the island, (as we writers for Wining & Dining have been doing!) then you’ll have spotted that a new trend has emerged of late. Whether it’s in response to the previously depressed financial climate or merely some shrewd marketing, or both, nobody knows. But it’s a fact that a number of the better restaurants have revised their prices. Okay, so we’re not talking silver service fine dining with wine pairing here. And if there’s a sommelier

present then he’s probably here from Germany on a 3-week break, and in amongst the other diners. But at Seafood Palate, they’re serving prime imported meat from Australia and New Zealand. All the seafood is fresh each day from the market in nearby Hua Thanon, and the desserts are to die for. And when you scan the menu, the vast majority of the dishes seem to be between 200 and 350 baht.

      Seafood Palate is part of another new trend, too. For a long time, Samui’s resorts were content to maintain in-house ‘signature restaurants’. These quality restaurants were designed to have their own character and create their own style and ambiance; a little gourmet niche seemingly separate from the resort. But now it’s gone to the logical next step. It’s not so easy to tempt guests in from outside when they can’t see the restaurant from out on the road. So why not take the restaurant outside to where the people are?

      Seafood Palate was designed, overseen and staffed by one of the island’s top chefs. He’d previously worked for 20 years with the prestigious Amari Group, first as a chef specialising in Italian cuisine, and then as a teacher who travelled around and trained other chefs in the same genre. He first came here in 2003, to set up a new kitchen and restaurant, The Patio, at the Pavilion Samui Boutique Resort. And it’s no accident that you’ll spot this right across the street from Seafood Palate. The long-time owner of the Pavilion is Khun Virach Pongchababnapa, and he’s a very shrewd man indeed. A little more than a year ago, he directed this chef towards a building across the street and told him to set up a new restaurant and run it – which he duly did. And that is why the quality is exactly like a hotel. And that includes the kitchen and floor staff, too, most of whom originally were trained at, and came across from, the Pavilion.

     It’s easy enough to find. Coming from Chaweng, take the first entry into Lamai’s central beach area (the first major left turn after the landmark of the IT complex). Follow the narrow road, going through a crossroads, until you see Seafood Palate on the right, with the Pavilion across from it. If you’re on four wheels, you may be able to pull in along the side of the Pavilion. But the road is extremely narrow here and you may need to find a spot and walk back.

      Even the layout of the restaurant is intriguing. It’s on two floors, with the very popular upstairs outer balcony being the prime focus. The entire downstairs frontage is a riot of colour, with bright, cheerful hues revealing a busy open-kitchen within. But walk inside and you’re suddenly in a little Mediterranean courtyard, open to the sky, and with the tables and chairs dotted casually around. And there’s also a big enclosed space that’s air-conditioned if you need it. The menu is outstanding. Essentially it’s Thai and International, but (as you might now suspect) with a flourishing emphasis on Italian dishes. Although, as well as the range of (fresh-made each day) pastas you’d expect, and the standard Thai offerings, there is a gentle hint of fusion which runs between the two. And so you’ll discover, for instance, ‘Spaghetti Tom Yam Kung with Whipped Cream’, or ‘Green Salad with Onion Ice Cream’ (green oak lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onion, milk and whipping cream and topped with onion ice-cream). The pizzas are first-rate, thin and crispy and with lots on top, including a vegetarian selection. And the Thai dishes are interesting too, as there are some unusual offerings that you won’t come across elsewhere. One of these is ‘Tod Mun Pla Kray’, which has an intriguing texture, and is made from fish found in Bangkok’s Chao Praya River. Plus there’s a wide range of southern dishes, all characteristically mild and filled with creamy coconut milk.

       This really is a sought-after restaurant and is going great guns, with bookings positively needed to avoid disappointment. The service is great, the food is fab and the prices are terrific. What more could you want? Well, how about a 10% discount off your bill? Yes, it’s true, but only for readers of Samui Wining & Dining. Bring in the paper with this story in it and you’ll qualify for that 10% off your bill at the end of the evening. And what could be better than that!

        Seafood Palate is open from 12:00 noon until 11:00 pm.

         

Rob De Wet


 


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