Samui Wining & Dining
Go – Look – Like – Eat
Go and take a look at Chaweng’s Drink Gallery, and if you like what you see,
drop in to dine – the food is fabulous!

Go and take a look at Chaweng’s Drink Gallery, and if you like what you see, drop in to dine – the food is fabulous!Not everything is what it seems. When you look below the surface, often things are different. This is fine and very philosophical. But when we’re here on holiday, things don’t work like that. We don’t look under the surface – we’re just too relaxed and having a good time! We take things at face value. Why not? We just can’t be bothered to study everything closely. There are hundreds of, let’s say, restaurants. So we just eat at the ones which take our fancy. Someplace looks pretty? Let’s try it. If it’s not that good, then so what! We’ll go somewhere else tomorrow. Maybe we’ll look out for that nice-looking place we saw featured in the paper. But it we can’t find it, then never mind!

And that, my gourmet friends, is really not the way to do it! If you’re reading this paper, then it’s because you genuinely want some info on food. So here it is: one of Chaweng’s finest eateries is right out in full view – but folks walk past it, as it’s something of a secret. If this place was in a trendy part of Bangkok, it’d be crammed every night, because the whole deal here is tip-top.

The décor is subtly, minimalistically, tongue-in-cheek, but with constant tones of Alice-in-Wonderland under the skin of things. It’s undoubtedly the only instance of this kind of thinking on Samui. And the food is excellent. The menu has been custom-designed by a top international chef, and it’s all crafted from prime ingredients, perfectly cooked and beautifully presented. The bespoke cocktails were engineered by one of the world’s leading mixologists. And the name – again, it’s enigmatic. It’s Drink Gallery.

And that, my gourmet friends, is really not the way to do it! If you’re reading this paper, then it’s because you genuinely want some info on food. So here it is: one of Chaweng’s finest eateries is right out in full view – but folks walk past it, as it’s something of a secret. If this place was in a trendy part of Bangkok, it’d be crammed every night, because the whole deal here is tip-top. The décor is subtly, minimalistically, Go and take a look at Chaweng’s Drink Gallery, and if you like what you see, drop in to dine – the food is fabulous!tongue-in-cheek, but with constant tones of Alice-in-Wonderland under the skin of things. It’s undoubtedly the only instance of this kind of thinking on Samui. And the food is excellent. The menu has been custom-designed by a top international chef, and it’s all crafted from prime ingredients, perfectly cooked and beautifully presented. The bespoke cocktails were engineered by one of the world’s leading mixologists. And the name – again, it’s enigmatic. It’s Drink Gallery.

At first sight, this is a cube of glass, just a few metres south of the landmark of McDonald’s on Chaweng Beach Road. Once you have located it, pause awhile and focus your gaze. The tables and chairs are a fascinating mis-match on both sides of one huge table. The equipment and mason jars full of cocktail ingredients behind the bar look like they belong in an alchemist’s workshop. Oh – and there’s a gigantic Zen painting above the bar which is, by itself, as big as the average bungalow.

But it’s only once you’ve come inside that you’ll notice the finer points. Something as simple as the shelves behind the bar – there’s nothing holding them up. In fact they’re made of two-inch thick wood which was embedded into the concrete wall when it was cast into place. The frontage of satin black mini-doors, behind which lurk the mixologist’s varied paraphernalia. The menus themselves: each one is an art student’s delight. And it’s probably worth mentioning that the owner and creator of Drink Gallery, Khun Pang, occasionally moves in exalted Bangkok society. And more than a few of Thailand’s young artists, singing stars, musicians designers or movie idols can be seen here in Drink Gallery from time to time – if you’re clued-in enough to recognise them, that is!

The menu was specially commissioned from one of Thailand’s leading contemporary chefs, Khun Nhoi Ouypornchai. And it’s a wonderful tapestry of the finest of carefully-sourced Western ingredients melded with tantalising hints of the Oriental, and ranges from tapas to mains, to snacks and ‘Pairings’. This last one is a set combination of cocktails and tapas. Each of the eats and drinks has choices,Go and take a look at Chaweng’s Drink Gallery, and if you like what you see, drop in to dine – the food is fabulous! and you get to pick three dishes from a choice of seven and sup three cocktails from a choice of six. And each of the cocktails is matched with the food, in much the same way as you might do with wine.

Looking in more detail at the menu reveals that it’s split into the expected sections – starters, soups, salads mains and so on – although the items all have pleasantly whimsical titles. Take one of the more intriguing salads, for instance, ‘Yum Amphawa’. The name’s a play on words – ‘yum’ meaning salad and ‘Amphawa’ being the name of Bangkok’s traditional floating market. Put them together, tongue in cheek, and you’ve got a salad that you certainly won’t find in traditional Thailand: strawberries, apple, melon and redberries. Plus huge hunky prawns, oh-so-tender hoops of squid, velvety mussels and . . . melt-in-your-mouth crispy battered ‘pak liang’ leaves!

If that’s perked you up a bit, then have a look at the ‘Australian lamb shoulder Massaman’. Massaman is a very mild and creamy Malaysian style curry dish with peanuts and potato. But here the sauce is subtly oiled, the lamb drops right off the bone, the tiny potatoes are pan-fried, and it all comes with a super-mild garlic fried rice that’s aromatic rather than pungent.

Or you could nibble on a mini pork pie! Well the ‘Samui Rangoon’ looks like a bowl of these, but a more conscientious investigation will reveal that inside these mini pielets is, in fact, an utterly yummy mix of diced seafood melted together with cheese. But instead of the usual dipping sauce, there’s an exciting sticky dip made from lemongrass – a sublime complement to the tangy flavour and crunchy texture of the little patties.

Drink Gallery opens at 1:00 pm, in time to catch those of us who might be out and about for lunch, and stays welcomingly open through the evening dining session, right up until after the kitchen has closed and the glad-handers are seriously sipping their cocktail specials out the deck outside.

The secret is out. Drink Gallery. It’s not a bar. it’s not a bistro. It’s not even a restaurant. It’s all of these things, and wrapped up in a mischievous design-core of whimsy, no less. And now you’ve read all this, all you need to do is to go there and eat, as it says in the title – the ‘like’ part of it will happen automatically!

          

Rob De Wet


 


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