Friday, June 25, 2010

Ko Samui Grub

One of the surprising things about this un-taken-leave soaking-up trip to Ko Samui has been the presence of so many girlie bars quality of the cuisine and, um, cookin'.

Four standouts, only one of which is Thai.

1. Red Pepper Schnapper Bar and Grill. Just a few doors down from where I was staying. Amazing high class charcuterie, open grill area. Even more amazing is how empty it was. a) The BEST pumpkin and cinnamon soup, with a coriander foam on top. b) Steak perfecto. c) Red-pepper (duh!) and strawberry creme brulee with basil ice-cream and crunchy peanuts. Drooling still... Awesome. They made an off-menu (why?) Black Russian for me too. Only complaints, the salad bar is mediocre and the steak came too promptly after the soup - what's the rush?

2: Duomo Italian. Just another almost empty Italian place I thought, until I heard the bald waiter speaking Italiano to the lone pair of diners. Free crosti and a delicious tomato sauce hit the table first. The Napoletana pizza was just terrific, not overdone with excess ingredients like a family restaurant or underdone like some art-house place, just some stylishly laid out anchovies and a few olives. The thin base was crisp and non-greasy all the way though the meal. The only Hefeweizen Bier I could find on the island (not that I've looked that much) was the perfect accompaniment to a long day of frustrating golf on my birthday, seeing as how I don't particularly think champagne goes with pizza.

3: Mad Greek. The best Greek food I've had for ages, certainly better than that place I went to in Little Bourke St. in Melbourne earlier this year - at about 25% the price. For once the food was handle with relative subtlety too. I took the mezze plate. The standout on this was the marinated squid - a just wonderful spicy, sweet marinade and squid like you only get in the best sushi bars. The pita bread was freshly baked, crisp yet... soft - 'yielding' is the word I'd use - if I was fucking nutter. Lamb kebabs, flamed in ouzo, with the marination and nice herb flavour preserved through the grilling, something that rarely happens - tender, juicy, just superb.

All of these are within a stone's throw of each other on the main strip of Chawaeng Beach Rd, towards the west end of town.

4: Santiburi Golf Course: for golf course grub, this has to take the (prawn) cake. The sweet-chili dipping sauce for the donut-shaped(!) tod mun goong (the prawn cakes) was top notch. Typically for Thai it was both simple and sophisticated. I could see how it was done too. Take your boring sweet chili sauce from a bottle in the supermarket, add small wedges of super-thin sliced cucumber and some red-onion, add small bites of extra red chilies and top with finely chopped peanuts. Taste is out of this world. The plate of potentially boring sate sticks were well laid out, some lying down, some vertical in a small glass (amazing how these small touches make the difference) with an excellent peanut sauce. I waited the rain-storm out with this. I wish I could say the rest of my golf was up to par with the food.

Compared to Phuket, I'd have to rate Ko Samui tops for farang food. MomTri's in Kata Beach is the closest to Red Pepper in food style, but this was both cheaper and more adventurous! Plus, I didn't see anywhere in Chawaeng that looked like it would treat the local food the way the chef at the golf-course did.


p.s. Best if you Google these places yourself, my internet connection may not last long enough for the tedious task...


marke said...

Damn! Now I am forced to go there! I have copied your page and stored it on my computer in preparation. I hope you don't mind the copyright infringement.

expat@large said...

Marke: I wouldn't go to Ko Samui just for gastronomy tourism, but maybe it was just that I wasn't expecting such quality. And don't stay in the heart of Chawaeng as I did. I was last there in 2000 or so when they were first ripping up the old track in town to make the footpaths etc. one of the first buildings up was Burger King. :-( But don't worry there's plenty of poverty tourism around. Stay on one of the other beaches, and bring a lot of money for golf (and balls, I lost 12 in one round) - SGD$260!

expat@large said...

These three restaurants were convenient for me, but there are heaps of other well-rated restaurants on the other beaches in Samui... mmm maybe we SHOULD do some gastronomy tourism!

However there is only one golf course and it's a mother!

marke said...

Good tip on the golf balls - I usually lose that many on a normal round, and they only cost about Rp50,000 a pack here ... I won't tote any clubs on the plane, just a suitcase full of balls.

expat@large said...

4 second-hand balls for 100Bht in the club-house. Buy 3 sets. Minumum.

Don't stop at the "golf shop" on the "road" there - up to 500Bht for 12. WTF?

Enjoy the 600yd 17th hole, has to be the most amazing golf holes ever! (it's one of the photos on the main header) It'll bring back your faith in the Spanish Inquisition.

Not counting (only!) one lost ball, I made a bogey! On for "five" and sank a 30ft putt!

anthony said...

I have been to Red Snapper both times I have been to Koh Samui, and simply it is wonderful. The best Italian on the island is further along chaewong in a little Boutique Hotel, right on the beach, but past all the beach bars. I think Koh Samui is a great place to go for a break.

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