Samui Wining & Dining
Keeping a Low Profile

It’s a beautiful beach by day but every evening staff at The Sunset Beach Resort transform the sands into a top fine dining area.

It’s a beautiful beach by day but every evening staff at The Sunset Beach Resort transform the sands into a top fine dining area.Form follows function, as the architectural saying goes. Especially when it comes to restaurants. They’re easy to spot: you'll see a sign, a building, then there are tables and chairs, and at the back a kitchen. Anyone can recognize a restaurant, even if it’s way off, right in the distance.

But strange as it might be, it turns out that some restaurants are pretty hard to spot. If you walk along the beach in Baan Taling Ngam, in the daytime, you won’t see any dining area at all. You may or may not see a tiny hut towards the back of the beach, though ‘hut’ isn’t the best description; it’s more a small table with a straw roof. Next to it, there’s a post, also quite unremarkable, except there’s a bell on it, and an invitation to ring it if you would like a drink. Since it all blends in with the backdrop, you might just walk on, completely unaware. But the truth is that you’ve just strolled right through the heart of one of Samui’s best fine dining areas. During the day you won’t see it – because it simply isn’t there.

At night, it’s a completely different matter. Once the sun goes down, you'll see a few tables and chairs placed on the sands. Not many, just enough for a few diners. And you'll see the cooking staff busying themselves at the small hut and you'll realize that, tiny as it might be, it is in fact a mini-kitchen, with just enough space for a chopping board and some burners.

At night, it’s a completely different matter. Once the sun goes down, you'll see a few tables and chairs placed on the sands. Not many, just enough for a few diners. And you'll see the cooking staff busying themselves at the small hut and you'll realize that, tiny as it might be, it is in fact a mini-kitchen, with just enough space for a chopping board and some burners.

But this is not some fly-by-night operation; it’s just the latest in discreet, fine dining. Everything’s run by the prestigious Sunset Beach Resort & Spa, a low-key yet opulent hotel that looks out over the beach here. It’s located on the west coast’s Taling Ngam Beach, just next to the InterContinental Samui, as you head northwards to Nathon.

The beachside dining area is run by the executive chef at the resort, Khun Songwut Singrueng, who’s more often known as Chef Khaek. He started his career quite humbly, washing dishes while he watched how other chefs went about creating great dinners. Once they realized he had aptitude, they started asking him to help out. The results were amazing, and soon he was able to command jobs as a chef, moving to ever more prestigious restaurants,It’s a beautiful beach by day but every evening staff at The Sunset Beach Resort transform the sands into a top fine dining area. both at home and abroad. Notably, he joined Hilton in Malta, where he worked in their Blue Elephant restaurant, which has a great reputation for its authentic Thai cuisine. On Samui he’s worked at The Tongsai Bay, Impiana and InterContinental, where he specialized in beachside cooking – just as he’s doing now at Sunset Beach.

You'll find him an affable person, who will do everything to make you feel at home. He’s a very laid-back sort of person – exactly the right sort of chef to be running it, completely professional and able to provide you with a top-notch dining experience. Chef Khaek’signature dishes, by the way, are Soft Shell Crab with Garlic Pepper Sauce, Laab Salmon and Rib Eye Steak with Black Pepper Corn Sauce.

Diners tend to come early as the sunsets here are spectacular – the west coast is famed for them. The sun sets behind The Five Islands, and if you look further to the south, you'll see the serrated outlines of the mountains on the mainland. As backdrops go, it’s very impressive. You won’t see many buildings at all. The beach is wonderful for swimming, with its gently shelving sands. It’s also romantic – just look at the gently swaying palms and the greenery of the hills around. A great setting for a restaurant. At night the air seems to have a special softness here, and you can sit out under the stars, unbothered by passers-by – there are very, very few.

It isn’t just the dining that’s ultra-discreet; you can also take the resort’s private boat out at sunset and enjoy a wonderful outing, which takes in The Five Islands, just off-shore. While on board you can enjoy drinks and snacks before returning to dry land once more as evening comes. It’s a very popular way to spend a couple of hours, and will certainly complement dinner on the beach.

Once you're seated at one of the tables on the sand, your evening will truly begin. But first you'll naturally have to choose what you're going to eat. You can enjoy a Korean-style barbecue, where you cook meat or fish at your table on the electric barbecue that will be brought to your table. It’s a cinch to operate: just lay the food on the barbecue and wait until it’s ready. The results are simply delicious.

But maybe you’d prefer to have your dishes brought to you and if so, you'll love the kantok dinner. A kantok is a wonderful experience, with lots of delicious food placed on a large tray for you and your partner to share. It’s a very authentic Thai way to eat, and is hugely popular with visitors to the country. Various tempting favourites are on the menu, and you can ask for them to be spicy or mild.

You can also opt for a western-style menu, with your own chef to barbecue everything and your own wait staff in attendance. Again, it’s a romantic experience and is sure to delight.

If you fancy an outing, a trip to the local market with Khun Khaek can be arranged, where he’ll choose the freshest of produce for your private beach dinner, while explaining the local ingredients as he goes along.

Dinners on the beach at Sunset Beach Resort are truly memorable experiences combining great food with an amazingly romantic atmosphere. But should you come back during the day, you'll find this elegant fine dining area has simply vanished. Until, that is, the sun begins to set once again.

          

Dimitri Waring


 


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