Samui Wining & Dining
Encompassing Excellence

At its beautiful bayside location, Chef Chom’s presents the very best of Thai regional cooking.

 At its beautiful bayside location, Chef Chom’s presents the very best of Thai regional cooking.It’s almost at the northernmost point of Samui and has a faraway feel to it, yet, it’s just a short drive from Chaweng. Is the trip worth it? Definitely – if you’re looking for a deliciously secluded setting and some of the very best Thai food to be found on the island. The Tongsai Bay, one of Samui’s first luxury hotels looks out over an idyllic bay, and is a wonderful setting for dinner. It’s home to Chef Chom’s, which offers amazingly good Thai cuisine, prepared in traditional ways resulting in exquisite tasting dishes.

The resort dates back to 1986, when the original owner Khun Akorn Hoontrakul arrived on a Royal Navy ship – there were no roads in those days. He fell in love with the bay, sleeping out under the stars, and within a week deciding to buy the land for its beauty and wildness.

These days you don’t need the help of the navy to get here – just drive north out of Chaweng, follow the beach road, through Choeng Mon, then turn right at The Bank of Ayutthaya and head up the smaller road till you see the sign for The Tongsai Bay.

The current owner, his son, Khun Gob Hoontrakul and his wife Khun Goya, have always kept the resort close to nature and its roots – today it’s a haven for bird and animal life, and adheres to very strict environmental policies. It’s hardly surprising that the food here to is equally close to its roots, not just in the ingredients, but also the cooking methods used to prepare the dishes.

The restaurant itself is gracefully built around a central pond and looks down a small valley towards one of Samui’s most idyllic small bays. There’s little light pollution here making the setting decidedly romantic, and if you’re seated out in the open, you'll enjoy being under the stars.

Tables are set out in the little courtyard, and each has a canvas covering, so you won’t suddenly have to dart for cover if there’s some rain. Everything is done to make you feel at home. The waiting staff anticipate your needs but never hover, and if you need any help with understanding the menu, they’re adept at explaining what everything is.

The Tongsai Bay’s General Manager, Leisa Kenny-Protsat describes the food as “Rustic contemporary Thai,” but says the description doesn’t really do it justice. “This is food that’s true to its origin; it’s eclectic and it’s regional. At its beautiful bayside location, Chef Chom’s presents the very best of Thai regional cooking.It’s prepared and cooked in different styles, all faithful to whichever region of Thailand it came from. We’ve elevated the products and the ingredients used in the preparation.”

So what can the diner expect from all of this? The results are impressive. Each bite of food seems to have a perfectly blended medley of tastes. You'll find the four cardinal tastes of Thai food in evidence in each dish you choose here: salt, sweet, sour, spicy – the trick is to balance them all, and this is what Chef Chom’s does so well.

Getting tastes like these and ensuring the consistency is there isn’t just a case of browsing a cookbook or three, then employing a nifty chef and ending up with a batch of treats – even if that approach can work! The road to success is a much longer one than that, and started centuries ago, long before the restaurant or the resort were in existence.

The restaurant was originally inspired by the traditions of Royal Thai cuisine; a style of cooking that has evolved over generations to serve Thailand’s royalty and their guests.

Naturally this was all food that was prepared with maximum care, no matter if the dish was originally humble or not. And threading its way through the cuisine were the cooks who elevated each dish to its maximum potential. One such family of cooks handed down their knowledge to Chef Chom herself, who worked at the palace of the late Princess Vibhavadi Rangsit in Bangkok. She also taught cooking, training over 500 chefs, and collaborated with Keith Floyd when he made his TV programme about Thailand.

The restaurant at The Tongsai Bay is named after her, as she worked here for twenty years. And although she is now retired and lives in Bangkok, she still advises on today’s recipes for the concept of traditional dishes that are authentic to their region. Most kitchens rely on nifty ways to do things very quickly and some cut as many corners as possible. Not at Chef Chom’s. Were you to spirit up a Thai chef from a hundred years ago, he or she would be totally at home; all the old utensils and methods are to be found – this is a mortar-and-pestle kind of place, and you won’t see the cook reaching for a bag of pre-mixed ingredients from the local supermarket.

The recipes bring out the best of the four culinary regions of Thailand: the north (Nua), North-Eastern (Issarn), Central (Klung) and the South (Dtai). Of these, the North has the mildest flavours, owing to its more temperate climate, while the south – and yes, Samui’s part of this, has the spiciest of the regions’ foods, simply because temperatures are hotter here and food doesn’t keep long.

Aromatic and full of flavours, a visit to Chef Chom’s is a treat indeed. Faithful to the four cuisines of Thailand, dinner here is to partake in the finest of traditional culture in an extraordinarily green setting. Not surprisingly both the restaurant and the resort are highly acclaimed for their excellence.

          

Dimitri Waring


 


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