In addition to exploring its glorious beaches, shimmering ocean and lush emerald forests, visitors can add culinary adventures Koh Samui's list of attractions. The island is one of Thailand’s foodie hotspots with everything from high-end restaurants serving gourmet cuisine to a multitude of tantalizing street food stalls. With so many diverse tastes on offer there is definitely no need to go hungry.
Five Star Feast
Visitors in search of top-end dining options on Samui usually head for one of the island's internationally-acclaimed restaurants, many of which are located within upmarket hotels, along with a few stand alone venues. Well known brands like Four Seasons, Hilton, Banyan Tree are usually home to a choice of eateries, generally including one offering gourmet Thai cuisine and the other offering a more Western-inspired menu. Many of the these top notch restaurants also come with spectacular ocean views and a lengthy wine list, all ingredients that make for dinner to remember. Some of Koh Samui’s most desirable beach clubs, cafes, bistros and gastro pubs also lay on a special Sunday brunch buffet that can be enjoyed from the exquisite comfort of a plush day bed overlooking the ocean.
Another burgeoning facet of Samui’s culinary scene is the option to enjoy private dining at one of the island’s fabulous holiday villas. An increasing number of holiday-makers are now renting a luxury holiday property rather than staying at a hotel, and when it comes to food, this can mean mouth-watering meals cooked ay home by a personal chef. The chef will plan the menu with his or her guests and pick up all the fresh produce from the local market to cook up a storm in the well equipped kitchen. Guests can then dine under the stars on the terrace beside the pool, or even enjoy their meal on the enticing stretch of sand adjacent to their holiday home.
As Samui’s popularity soars, a growing number of alluring international restaurants have sprung up across the island, serving everything from rich Indian curries to Australian steaks. Chinese, Indian, Italian, Japanese and Mexican are just a few of the flavours visitors can expect to enjoy on the island, in addition to the abundance of traditional Thai dishes. Many restaurants also offer fusion menus where dishes combine the best of fresh Thai produce, seafood in particular, with the unique flavours of the Mediterranean, for example. Visitors in the mood for a hearty plate of pub grub, there is an array of restaurants offering up everything from fish and chips to a tasty Sunday roast.
Fast food is a quick and convenient option for visitors who have busy holiday itineraries that don;t always allow time to stop for a long sit down meal. Just like mainland Thailand, Samui is home to a broad selection of fast food eateries, including all the famous Western chains like KFC, McDonalds, Burger King and Pizza Hut. Local fast food chains like the Pizza Company are also popular with visitors and locals alike and often add a Thai twist to their offerings.
For simple, tasty Thai food, quality local Thai restaurants abound on Samui. Service at these local eateries is often basic – your waiter might even have to run down the local 7/11 store to buy you a chilled bottle of beer if he doesn’t have any left in his cooler. Guests at a local Thai restaurant can expect a broad mix of sweet and spicy Thai flavours. Khao Pad – fried rice – is usually one of the top dishes on the menu, often flavoured with soy sauce and a little chilli and available with chicken, pork, beef of a handful of juicy prawns. Kai Tiew Moo Sap, Thai omelette cooked with fish sauce and minced pork, is another favourite and served over steamed rice.
To savour the flavour of authentic Thai cuisine, the street is perhaps the best place to eat. Roadside stalls have been a major part of Thailand’s eating culture for centuries, and while each vendor may not have a hi-tech kitchen to play in, sometimes nothing beats hand made flavours. Spicy som tam salad is undoubtedly a favourite snack, and provides a refreshing complement to marinated meat dishes such as pork or chick satays. Pla Plau, grilled and salted fish, is another popular street food dish usually eaten with tangy som tam salad and sticky rice. The fish is stuffed with lemongrass, lime leaves and other aromatic ingredients before being rolled in salt and grilled to absolute perfection.
Updates by Wayne Hue