Samui Wining & Dining
The Fisherman’s Walk

Some of the best eating in Fisherman’s Village is right at the end – at Grill Bophut!


19You’ve got elephant trips and the tiger zoo. There are safaris up the mountain and all sorts of days out on boats. Plus seawalking, kayaks and quad bikes. There are a hundred-and-one things to do on Samui, and a great many people will do some of these things. But there’s probably only one ‘thing’ that everyone will do, and very many of them will do it twice. It doesn’t matter whether you’re here for 10 days or for 10 years, passing through or permanent. It’s the one place on the island that everyone is sure to go – such is the lure of Fisherman’s Village.

      Fifteen years ago, it was nothing much at all – just half a mile of dirt track that ran next to the beach, with a few old wooden houses grouped around a jetty. Even the original fishermen had packed up and left. But, gradually, bit by bit, it opened up, with a small coffee shop here and a dive school there. Then a restaurant, then a guesthouse. And, before anyone really knew what was happening, new shops were appearing and buildings being built. The ‘strip’ of the ‘village’ had stretched out into a hundred yards of gift shops, pubs, restaurants and bistros, with all sorts of little stands and stalls full of knick-knacks and mementos.

      And today there’s a lot more there again! The seashore on this bit of the coast isn’t good for swimming or lounging on the beach; the water comes up high and most of the buildings perch six or eight feet above the narrow strip of sand, on top of a seawall. The majority of the pubs and restaurants are on this side to make the most of the sea view. The road is narrow and, thankfully, one-way. And the whole strip ends at the 5-star Hansar Resort. But you’ll find that it’s only the last 100 yards or so where the beach broadens out enough to allow any kind of practical access. It’s here that you’ll find the quality Thai dining at Krua Bophut. And right next to it, just across the street, the exceptional Grill Bophut.

      From the street outside it’s quietly impressive: it’s elevated four or five steps above street level, with an open dining terrace at the front and another that runs back along the side. This side terrace is broad and pleasant, and surrounded by shrubs and trees. The main body of the restaurant is open on these two sides, Thai-style, and the décor is subtle and warm, with lots of dark wood and low, warm lighting. Outside, at the top of the steps, there’s one of those little model boats with seafood packed in ice. And you need to take a close look at this.

     It’s quite common to see similar boats, out on display on the road. But think about it a moment. Most are full of seafood of all sorts. Glance inside to see how many diners there are. Then ask yourself what happens to all this seafood at the end of the day. At first glance, it might not be impressive to see just a dozen or so king prawns and lobsters, like there are at Grill Bophut. But they’re all clean! No dust or road grime – and they’re very, very fresh. And right away this sets the scene for the rest of your dining experience here.

      This is a barbecue restaurant. It features fresh seafood together with prime imported cuts of meat from Australia and New Zealand. There is an appetiser menu which has a mixed selection of Thai and international offerings, such as ‘Baked New Zealand Mussels and Thai herbs in a Clay Pot’ or ‘Chicken Soup with Coconut Milk’(tom kha gai). And then there’s a small but enticing selection of Thai mains including several very tasty duck choices (among them a simply super roasted duck curry). The Thai food is really top quality, an attribute it shares with its sister restaurant, Krua Bophut – indeed, it’s the same outstanding menu. But it’s the barbecue that most people come here for.

         There’s a gleaming open show-kitchen set a little to one side and you can see all of the items being cooked exactly to your preference. Each of the offerings comes with its own selection of vegetables, plus you can go for extra sides, (potato gratin, French fries, baked potato, mashed potato, sautéed potato with bacon) if you want. The seafood (king prawns, squid, snapper, bass, lobster) is superb. And the meat here really is prime – ‘Australian T-bone with Broccoli and Sautéed Potatoes’ is a favourite, as is the ‘Australian Beef Tenderloin with Asparagus, Baby Sweetcorn and Mashed Potato’. There’s also a mixed seafood basket and a matching meat plate – and all at surprisingly reasonable prices. And then there’s the do-it-yourself option of the heated lava block.

         This is a really attractive set that comes on its own big wooded platter, and is made up of your plate, plus three tantalising dipping sauces, and a block of scalding hot lava that sits on a metal tray. Lava – real volcanic lava – is interesting, as it retains more heat than glowing charcoal and for a longer time. So you can chop off bits of seafood or slice away bits of your meat and sizzle it up to just the way you like it, at your leisure.

         But here’s the best bit. If you fancy all of this but sitting wiggling your toes in the sand, with the sea murmuring next to you and the sky above ablaze with stars – just ask! Book your table at Krua Bophut across the road and have any of the above whisked across to you in a flash. On the other hand, Grill Bophut is huge. You won’t notice it from the street but it goes back forever (it even contains its own refrigerated glassed-in wine room) and can seat up to 200 diners, which is just perfect for a wedding group or a birthday party – wedding planners take note.

         And so the next time you’ve battled your way through the buzz of Friday’s Walking Street excitement and are getting a bit footsore, don’t stop. Don’t turn back to try to find a quiet place for a bite to eat. Do the ‘fisherman’s walk’ and keep on going – along to the peace and quiet of the elegant Grill Bophut!


Rob De Wet


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