Samui Wining & Dining
By Royal Appointment

The spa cuisine at Bandara Resort & Spa is excellent – for many very good reasons!

 

15Most of the island’s high-end resorts have very good quality spas on their properties. It’s one of the attractions of staying somewhere like Bandara Resort & Spa in Bophut. You’re right on the beach, the gardens are spacious, the rooms and villas well-appointed, the cuisine excellent and you can pamper yourself for a few days into the bargain.

Those chefs who are a step or two ahead of the game know that by producing dishes that complement the spa treatments they are anticipating guests’ demands. And they’re opening up new revenue streams – though that’s never the prime motivation. Executive Chef, Amporn Choeng-Ngam, better known as Chef Bem, joined the team at Bandara in May of 2010 and leads the brigades at the all-day dining Leelavadee restaurant and the beachside fine-dining restaurant, Chom Dao. And he’s brought a wealth of domestic and international experience with him.

And just before joining Bandara, he spent a year in charge of 38 chefs working for Princess Hassah bint Abdulaziz Al Saud and her family at one of the palaces in Saudi Arabia. Again, there was a huge emphasis on natural, healthy cuisine and they have asked him to come back any time that he wishes. And that an impressive note on anyone’s résumé!

Part of his plan when he started at Bandara was to introduce several spa cuisine concept menus that were light, healthy, bursting with flavours and great value for money. And I joined him recently to try out his new four-course menu, which at around 550 baht is outstanding value. The appetizer or amuse-bouche was ‘Tomato essence with a fennel breadstick’ and I asked Chef Bam to tell me something about each dish. “This appetizer, served chilled, takes eight hours to prepare correctly as all the ingredients need continual straining to intensify the flavours. The success of this recipe lies in the ripest, very best tasting cherry tomatoes. Avoid those grown hydroponically or by radiation techniques and opt for organically grown, vine-ripened ones.

I’ve seldom encountered such refreshing, intense flavours that simply explode across your taste-buds. It left me thinking what could possibly come next? Well it was a ‘Salad of lightly curried crab with mango and yoghurt’. “This is a wonderful starter that will give you lots of different sensations in your mouth. A key part in the preparation of this dish is to toast the curry powder for five minutes which extracts the natural oils. We then infuse that with olive-oil, lemon-grass, kaffir-lime leaves, lime zest, lime juice and a pinch of sea-salt and after an hour or so strain it through a muslin cloth. Each portion has just 84 kcal, 3.9g of protein, 15g of carbs and just 1.4 grams of fat.”

For the main course, Chef Bem produced a ‘Red curry and miso paste glazed Chilean sea bass served with lotus seed purée and capsicum coulis’. “At first glance you might think that the sea bass was sitting on a bed of mashed potato, but it is in fact boiled, infused, ground and puréed lotus seeds. They’re an excellent fat-free alternative and work well with this dish. There’re just 301 kcal in this, 31.1 grams of protein, 30.6 grams of carbs and 5.6 grams of fat.” The fish was cooked perfectly and the sweet and sour capsicum coulis off-set the dryness of the lotus seeds. We finished the meal with a ‘Soup de fruits’ which was a delicious blend of peaches, strawberries, blackcurrants, blackberries, raspberries and mint. There was less than 400 kcal in the whole meal and only 7 grams of fat which is quite incredible. I’d happily order it any time of the day or night.

Chef Bam has also introduced a three-day ‘Classic cleansing diet menu’. It’s designed for people who seriously want to detoxify their body and promote wellness. And the team in the spa will happily recommend some therapies and treatments that will assist in the cleansing process and help rejuvenate your body, inside and out. If however you just want to relax and be pampered, there’re plenty of options.

There can’t be many better ways to spend a day than to indulge yourself at a spa and enjoy an incredible lunch prepared by a Royally-appointed chef. It will be time very well spent and you’ll wonder why you didn’t think of it before.

 


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