"A kitchen never stops evolving it will always be a place where art is created," says Belgian chef Joeri Schreurs. That's the sort of culinary chatter you might expect to hear in the world's dining capitals but Koh Samui?
Once upon a time, the only foods associated with this backpacker destination were hallucinogenic-mushroom omelettes, street-corner noodles and
"Four to five years ago there were 20 [quality] restaurants here," says John Andersen, co-publisher of fledgling bimonthly Eating in Samui. "Now there are around 45 and more coming." Here are some selections from the
THE CLIFF: With its terracotta-tiled terrace and wood decking, this Mediterranean restaurant, tel: (66-77) 414 266, was the first to raise the bar for Samui's dining scene when it opened in 2004. Perched high above the sweep of Lamai Bay, it's run by South African owner-chef Bradley Munns, who cut his teeth setting up gastronomic establishments in Bangkok. Munns uses plenty of imported ingredients to create mouthwatering dishes like the house speciality, Portuguese charcoal-grilled piri-piri chicken.
GREEN OLIVE: Attached to a boutique resort, this tranquil and warm dining room, tel: (66-77) 230 222, serves up some of the island's best pasta dishes. That's no surprise when you discover that Italian chef Andrea Fiorentin has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants in Italy. Seafood soup with saffron is another house signature.
RICE: This delightful
venue, tel: (66-77) 231 934, is accessed by a small bridge over a pond, bestowing a sense of occasion that is matched by the Italian cuisine. Chef Luca Mancini worked at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Bologna, Italy, and did stints in ritzy restaurants in Phuket, London and Bombay. His imaginative menu incorporates tropical fruit at times, and not only in desserts.
TAWANN: The aforementioned Joeri Schreurs tickles palates at this venue tucked away in the Renaissance Koh Samui Resort & Spa, tel: (66-77) 429 300 with modern European cuisine that emphasizes fresh herbs. Ask for the local lobster carpaccio and a table with a good view of the bay. The ambience is romantic.
ZAZEN: Of Belgian and Italian descent, chef Walter Andreini worked his way across Asia before ending up at this stylish venue, tel: (66-77) 425-085. The fine-dining restaurant of a resort of the same name, Zazen serves fusion cuisine, imaginatively presented and using mostly organic ingredients. Try the five-spice barracuda with rosti and sesame cream, or macadamia-crusted chicken skewers with cumin and yogurt.