Samui Wining & Dining
Get up and Go!

Visit one of the island’s most tranquil beach restaurants – at The Siam Residence in Lipa Noi.

 

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         A secluded gem. A tranquil isle, basking in the tropical sun. A hidden haven with mile upon mile of snowy-white beaches and whispering palms. An azure sea. A retreat. A getaway. A little utopia where mangoes, lychees and bananas drip from every tree. Where smiling natives and dusky maidens . . . just a moment – let’s start again. It’s 2014, and this is Koh Samui. The hippies with their dreamy eyes, plus the wooden huts and hammocks on the beach, have all long since gone. Exclusive 5-star resorts have taken big bites out of every coast. There are probably more restaurants than taxis here now – and there seems to be a million of the latter.

         Samui’s moved on with a bang, and has now become loosely divided into ‘coasts’. The top part of the east coast around Chaweng is a neon glow with differing shades of intensity dropping down to around Lamai. The north coast glimmers less brightly, and yet still with vigour. And the southernmost coast is mainly for adventurers with handheld GPS navigation. That leaves the west coast – a swathe of sand that runs down from Nathon to lose itself, along with the ring-road, somewhere around Baan Taling Ngam. This is where you’ll find the quietest accessible beaches. This is where things have

remained clean and fresh. And this is where you’ll come across The Siam Residence.

         It’s not without reason that this resort stands out – there’s not exactly a crowd in this area anyway. But this is not only part of the charm, it’s also because if you look closely at what’s happening on this lengthy stretch of coast, there’s not so much that’s quality to shout about. This is a resort that’s been here for a very long time. It’s small – not many more than a dozen or so lavish little villas. But it’s an immaculate blend of Austrian ownership and Swiss management. Everything here is just perfect, from the flowerbeds on the immaculate lawns, to the constantly-upgraded villas, to the modernistic glass-sided twin restaurant buildings and the under-the-stars area between, to their own personal speedboat you can hire, to the all-day menu that you can enjoy when you pop in to look, snack, relax and do your emails!

One of the ways to measure the integrity of a resort here is to check the staff turnover. There are quite literally many thousands of hotel staff on Samui. Their contracts are usually on a yearly basis, and the vast majority of them then move on. Most resorts will tell you it’s hard to keep staff – they get trained and then they’re off for a more lucrative post. But the best resorts will say there’s no problem. The atmosphere is good, the staff are well-paid and appreciated, and they’re more than happy to stay in congenial surroundings with good people around them.

 

      The chef here at Siam Residence has been here for 22 years. Her name is Khun Lamyai Chaisuwan, and she’s ‘Head of Kitchen’. Her menu is, some would say, modest – there’s no fancy frills or twists to it. But she regularly upgrades things and adds new dishes, as well as cutting-out items which are less popular. In other words, she has continued to evolve in the same way that the resort itself has kept improving.

      There are two ways you can avail yourself of what Siam Residence and its restaurant have to offer. One is that you can drop in during the day for an hour or so. The pool is as perfect as the rest of it all, so come along to snack or to sip, take a dip, lounge about and manage your emails or Facebook page. But also do ask for ‘Khun Benjamin’, the smiling Swiss manager, and be polite enough to say hello. He’ll appreciate it.

      Or, and maybe in addition to this, make your way here for one of their evening dining sessions. If you make the effort to wander along this stretch of beach (it’s known as Santi Beach), you’ll find that there’s little in the way of beach dining, as mentioned already. The resort is popular and has regular guests, so if you want to be sure of a table, especially on the beach, you’ll need to book it. The menu is split into the usual sections, although it is been adventurous enough to mix the Thai dishes in with the international ones. There are lots of starters, with a selection of various salads and enough vegetarian offerings to keep everyone happy. There’s a solid ‘mains’ section with Cordon Bleu, pork ribs and a mixed grill vying for your attention, with a good selection of pasta dishes. And, of course, there are all the usual Thai dishes.

      But the star of the show is the seafood section. All of it is fresh each day, from the local Nathon market. But what will get your toes twitching is the way it’s put to you. Choose from snapper, mackerel, barracuda, squid, king prawns or rock lobster (if you want crab or shellfish, order it before you come). Then decide how you want it. You can opt for any of these; either charcoal barbecued, with sweet and sour sauce and vegetables, or deep-fried with garlic and pepper. Or go for the ‘healthy’ alternative with the seafood being steamed and combined with vegetables, garlic and chilli sauce, or presented with either red or yellow curry. And if you’ve never experienced crabmeat with vegetables, coconut milk, and mild yellow curry sauce, now is the time and you know where to go!

         The Siam Residence is easy to find. Coming out of Nathon and heading south, turn right at the first set of traffic lights towards Nathon Hospital. There is only one left turn off this road, just before you get to the hospital, and it’s well-signposted. Or, coming the other way, from the direction of Lamai, follow the signposts to Nikki Beach and the Raja ferry, at the major traffic lights. Then look for a turn, signposted on the right. (This is actually the same side road; it runs between these two roads and parallel to the ring-road.) Now you’ve been told, all that’s left is for you is to ‘get up and go’!

         

Rob De Wet


 


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