Samui Wining & Dining
Heaven to one Side

Right on the edge of all the rush,this 's oasis in the middle of Chaweng- Wine Oasis !

 

12-13Some people like Chaweng and some people don’t. It’s a personal thing. There’s a lot going on, that’s for sure. There are shops, stalls, restaurants, discos, ladyboy shows, taxis, car hire, more taxis, fast food, pharmacies, 7-11s and more taxis . . . really, it’s not for lovers of solitude. And yet, only 15 minutes away, there’s all the peace you could want, with quiet beaches and little rustic restaurants. But, when it comes to Chaweng Beach Road itself, one might say, there are several pitfalls.

      First, it’s so narrow that the traffic is always at a crawl. Second, it’s noisy, with tooting taxis, loudspeaker vans and live bands. Third, everyone’s competing for the tourist dollar. But nothing is more knife-edge and sharply competitive than all the restaurants on this strip – you’ll probably walk past 50 eateries in a 15 minute stroll. Some are well-known and well-subscribed. Some rely on a genre: Italian, Indian, Irish. Some have dancing shows or live bands. But they all have one thing in common. They are all selling food.

      And this is where it can often become disappointing. You go out to eat, you walk about, and after 30 minutes, you’re tired and hungry. So you go back to the restaurant that you thought looked the most attractive. This

proves to be a disappointment, and so you go and do it all over again the next night with a different restaurant. Another flop. Your problem is that you are trying to eat in restaurants which look pretty on a street where they all look pretty, but there is no way to judge what the quality of the food or service is like until you try it. We know this at Wining & Dining – that’s why we try to help you with these stories. But now a Thai man by the name of Khun Laem understands this too.

      His formal family name is Khun Napasoon Chayuntaradilok, but to everyone he’s just ‘Khun Laem’. And he’s a very interesting man. Ten or so years ago, he completed his training and began a career as a pilot for Thai Airways. This took him all over the world. And for the first time he was in dining situations where different wines were an inherent part of the experience (generally speaking the Thai nation doesn’t drink wine). He became fascinated. Wine became his hobby, and then his obsession. Every country he flew to was an ongoing wine-learning opportunity. He toured vineyards in France, Italy, Spain and America. He even took a Master’s degree with the Wine & Spirit Education Trust in London. And then he opened his own wine import and distribution company in Bangkok – BKK 1855.

     That was several years back. But now he also has a restaurant deep in the heart of Chaweng. The food is absolutely first class, prepared and cooked to perfection, and served by English-speaking staff who are intelligent, attentive and highly trained. The gleaming white tablecloths are changed in-between every diner. His wide range of different wine glasses is gourmet quality, and each will ring forever if you tap them. He designed this restaurant to look and feel somehow Mediterranean, with oak wine casks and live vines growing all around. And he has spent the last two years getting everything just perfect, bringing more staff from Bangkok, re-training new staff, and getting the menu strong, direct, and absolutely superb. His restaurant used to be something of a secret, but no more – ‘Wine Oasis’ is up and running to perfection!

      “It’s now truly an oasis in Chaweng,” he told me. “In between all the taxis and the neon lights, all you can see from the road is a few oak wine casks and some white table cloths. But the restaurant goes back and widens out. Most of the tables are under the stars, grouped around a gigantic fruit tree in a wide courtyard. There is no other restaurant around which comes close to this quality. Plus,” he added with a boyish grin, “I’ve got the best prices for quality wines – I import them myself and cut the distributor’s costs!”

         If you check the wine menu, it’s true. His house rosé is 490 baht a bottle, and the Shiraz Cabernet is just 690 baht. But if you look in the air-cooled wine room, there are connoisseur labels and rare vintages that would make any wine-lover squeal. And, every month or so, Khun Laem keenly offers up another new item he’s found on his travels. This restaurant is an oasis of quality wine.

         Putting that to one side, the food is to die for also – and it’s all at sensible prices. The actual menu itself is an object lesson to other restaurants; big and chunky, and with a ton of clear, sharp photos of the offerings. My job with Wining & Dining takes me to many of the 5-star restaurants around the island, and the quality of the food and its presentation is on a par with most of these. I’m not going to go into the details of individual dishes, but let it be said that all the meat is imported from Australia or New Zealand, the seafood is fresh each day, and there is also pasta, tapas, Royal Thai, and some gentle Thai-fusion to browse through. Plus, to match the wine prices, a quick flip through the menu brings up dish costs that range mostly between 250 and 350 baht. And I have to add that each plate comes with a presentation and arrangement that is quality personified.

         There is so much more I want to say but I’m out of space. So let’s cap it all off by just saying that, when wandering around Chaweng in search of good food and drink, wine in particular, look sideways, just past Soi Green Mango and next to Chaweng Garden Resort. Walk slowly. That way you’ll see the little bit of heaven that’s to one side – at Wine Oasis!

         

Rob De Wet


 


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