Samui Wining & Dining
On Cloud Wine

Tipples and treats galore at Wine Oasis.

Tipples and treats galore at Wine OasisStroll through Chaweng on any evening, and you realize this is a town that thrives on noise, crowds, bright lights and a raucous, fun spirit. But every now and again, you'll see a place that offers something a little bit different, and Wine Oasis is certainly one of them. Here, it’s definitely quieter, with tables well separated from each other. The food is to die-for and then, to top it all, they offer one of the island’s best selection of wines. Best of all, the wine prices are extraordinarily reasonable. The restaurant, open daily from 4:00 pm, is already one of Samui’s wine destinations.

Wine is definitely best left in the hands of connoisseurs, and the owner of Wine Oasis, Khun Napasoon Chayuntaradilok, more usually known as Khun Laem, and his wife, Khun Khun Piyamas Chayuntaradilok, have spent years honing their knowledge of wine.

When asked why they chose the name, Wine Oasis, Khun Laem smiles and says, “For two reasons. The first is that it really is an oasis, not in a desert, of course, but in a very urbanized setting.” He points up at the line of foliage above. “This is one of the few places where you can sit under greenery.” Not just any greenery, either, these are vines - real ones. How can they even grow here, in a tropical climate? Khun Laem explains that they are Malaga vines.

"They’re tough and just about the hardiest you can find. Where other types would just die off, these thrive. They’re a fixture. They help give our restaurant an oasis-like feeling." Indeed, there's something very relaxing about this outdoor garden setting with its vines and overhead canopy of leaves. If, by the way, the weather isn't so good, you can sit inside the other half of the restaurant which is an open pavilion.

Tipples and treats galore at Wine OasisKhun Laem goes on to describe the other reason for the restaurant's name. “The usual drink in Chaweng is beer - because of its sheer cheapness when compared to wine. In Thailand wine tax can reach 300% - that's steep. So most visitors from abroad are cautious, and naturally so. But here in the restaurant, we're able to offer all of our wines at wholesale prices. That’s because we’re fortunate enough to own a wine import company, so we can sell direct to our guests. In this way, we really are an oasis of wine! The prices are all much cheaper than they would be normally – the main idea is that I want my guests to really enjoy themselves and feel at home here, without having to worry about costs.”

Wine Oasis boasts one of the largest wine cellars on the island. Temperatures are all correctly controlled and guests are welcome to come in and browse. And, by the way, if you want to try a selection, it’s always possible as there are wines you can order by the glass.

A small but important plus to Wine Oasis is that even though it's right in the heart of Chaweng (on the main beach road, just opposite Spago), there's ample parking right next to the restaurant at Chaweng Garden Beach Resort. The owner there is a friend of Khun Laem’s and they have an arrangement whereby you can park free of charge. This is just one of the many ways in which everything has been carefully thought out, allowing you to have a very enjoyable evening.

The waiting staff are truly professional, and know not just about food, but about the wines that go with it. They know the proper procedures for pouring wine, right down to how to hold the bottle while serving you. Attention to detail and training is something that hasn't been skimped on.

But what happens if you're simply at a loss to know which wine to order? Well, you don't need to be even faintly knowledgeable about wines to enjoy drinking them at Wine Oasis, as the restaurant’s general manager, Khun Wirongrong Tooksri, more usually known as Khun Mae, is on hand to help. She knows exactly what wines go with what dishes, and can answer any questions you may have. Khun Mae has been with Wine Oasis since its planning stages. She helped open it, and has been in charge of operations here ever since. The owners greatly value her presence and her knowledge. She also speaks fluent English, having studied in the United States, and as we all know, discussing wines can be a very technical matter!

Wine Oasis is one of those places that are unstinting when it comes to pleasing its guests. Not content with stocking the wines themselves, the owners are very keen that drinking them should be done in the best way possible. They therefore make sure that whatever you choose to drink, you're given the right glass. “All of our glasses are crystal,” says Khun Laem, “We have about 10 different types of glass in all.”Tipples and treats galore at Wine Oasis. He pauses to tap one, and it makes a rich, musical sound that oozes perfection. It’s a known fact that to get the best out of any wine, you need to have the right glass. This brings out its taste. At Wine Oasis, you’ll find that glassware is taken very seriously. It’s also steam-cleaned, guaranteeing that it's totally spotless. “I like my guests to be happy,” says Khun Laem. “We try to make their evening here the very best it can be. Naturally, we're always trying to improve on the service we offer.”

The food is every bit as good as the wines. Everything is made from scratch and no corners are cut – the results speak for themselves. This is casual fine dining but without the hefty price tag. Choose from a variety of favourite Thai dishes or opt for European treats such as popular Italian-style pastas or steaks. Khun Laem has put together a large and tempting menu featuring a plethora of starters as well as a generous selection of mains. Samui being an island, seafood figures prominently on the menu, with fresh fish being delivered straight from the boats. Lobster, however, comes from Phuket, this being the best area for them in the entire country. Wine Oasis has some nifty ways to prepare them, and eating a whole lobster here is an incredibly tasty treat. Try the shrimp cakes with a crunchy crust and served on vine leaves, while for dessert whatever you choose is guaranteed to be decadent.

If you’re on Samui during the months of December and January, you can take advantage of a special promotion called ‘Sparkling New Year's - Time to Celebrate’. There's a wide variety, with some unusual and hard-to-find wines on offer. Take, for example, Barossa Valley. This 2009 Shiraz sparkles while being “red like a plum”, as Khun Laem puts it. A drink that’s both delicious and attractive. Or try the Italian Prosecco Blue, or Trapiche from Argentina – these are just some of the wines featuring in the promotion. And naturally, this being the festive season, there's real champagne, too, courtesy of Mangin et Fils.

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons for coming to eat and drink here, and ‘oasis’ is exactly the right word to describe this outstanding restaurant.

Dimitri Waring


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