Samui Wining & Dining
It's Well Red

The island has its very own version of The Michelin Guide – Samui Dining Guide.

11-(1)Expectations. We’ve all got them. Even if we’re not completely aware of them. We expect our accommodation to be clean with no holes in the roof. We don’t expect fresh fruit to come out of a tin. And when it comes to restaurants, it goes without saying that we expect the food to be properly cooked, and that the service be acceptable – to say the very least! But who’s to say what’s properly cooked and what’s acceptable and what’s not? One man’s viande might be another man’s ‘poisson’. Well, this is where standards come into it.

Standards are very useful things to have. There’s even an International Organisation (the ISO) to try and …er…standardise them all – ranging from industrial specifications through to environmental awareness. But unfortunately, it doesn’t yet stretch to aspects of cuisine or dining. Well, perhaps it doesn’t need to, as there’s already one organisation that’s taking care of this. And that’s the Michelin Guide.

Known commonly as The Michelin Red Guide (to differentiate it from the same company’s Green Guide to travel and tourism), over the years, this publication has risen in girth, stature and prestige to become probably the most famous and influential gastronomic guide in the world (even though it doesn't cover the whole planet – yet!). And there can be few people these days who haven't heard of the famous Michelin Red Stars.

The Michelin Company began by producing vulcanised rubber, and then went on to make tyres for bicycles, and later, cars. In 1900, the then owner and director, André Michelin, published a guidebook for motorists in France. This covered such things as where to find gasoline distributors, repair garages, tyre stockists, public baths and toilets and so on. And it also included places where you could find decent lodgings and eat well, whilst touring. The Guide continued to grow, and in the early 1930s, added those desirable one-, two- and three-star ratings.

The Michelin Star Ratings are highly valued, for they are not bestowed lightly. Michelin (quite independently) employs a full-time team of inspectors who constantly move around Europe incognito, and who pride themselves in making an impartial and objective assessment. The criteria are simple – the quality of the cuisine and service, and the consistency of both. As it’s not produced in this country, there aren't any red stars restaurants on Samui!

11-(2)So where will you go to eat whilst you're here? Well, the answer to that can be found in Samui Dining Guide which has been described as ‘Samui’s very own Michelin Guide’.

It was 13 years ago, in 2001, that Henrik Bjørk and Steve Taylor, Siam Map Company’s managing director and editorial director, respectively, realised that the time was right to warrant launching the island’s (and Thailand’s) first restaurant guide, and thus Samui Dining Guide was born.

With every recommended restaurant having a two-page review and photographs of both the establishment and one of its signature dishes, everyone was now happy. The diners, because they no longer had to trawl around – on a hit-and-miss basis – trying to find somewhere ideal to eat every day of their visit, and the restaurants themselves, as their inclusion in the guide brought in numerous new guests. One restaurant actually had to employ a new member of staff just to handle the extra work involved in processing reservations! And with 10,000 copies being produced every month (an incredible 1,610,000 guides have been printed to date!) and distributed in over 300 outlets in the island’s hotels, restaurants and prime public locations, and even in the Bangkok Airways departure lounge in Suvarnabhumi Airport, in Bangkok, every single visitor to Samui has access to a free copy of Samui Dining Guide within hours of their arrival.

It’s updated every three months, with spring, summer, autumn and winter editions, so that the information remains current and includes the very latest ‘must-visit’ eateries to hit the Samui dining scene. And the positive feedback is tremendous, from both diners and restaurants alike. (If you come across a fabulous place during your stay here, that isn’t already in the guide and that you feel would be worthy of recommendation, just send Steve an email ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).

So, by using Samui Dining Guide, you've got every justification in having great expectations!


Rob De Wet


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