Where to @Ko Samui

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Ko Samui is an island about 1.5 hours off the east coast of Thailand. A great place to unwind and have relaxing holiday by the beach. It has a tropical climate and we visited in September, which meant a bit of rain in the afternoon. This island has many nice beaches to explore, there are plenty activities available including; jet ski hire, go carting, parasailing, golf and Muay Thai gyms to train at, and stadiums to watch this traditional martial art.

Where to stay

Chaweng Beach is the busy part of the island with plenty to see and do. There are a range of options lining the beach to suit any budget including resorts, and other hotels that are less fancy with clean rooms and the much needed air conditioning. Whilst on this part of the island we stayed at both types of accommodation. The B2@Beach Samui was only AUD$40, which was a great option as Kurt was on his own for a couple of days. With beach frontage, a clean bed, aircon and a bar with cheap cocktails. This no frills option was low budget and the perfect for lazing by the beach sipping on a cocktail and reading a book. The hotel had a small pool and spa, however with Ko Samui being a beach destination, I recommend swimming in the ocean instead of a pool.

http://www.b2samuibeachresort.com/

We came to Ko Samui specifically for a wedding, and thus later relocated to the western side of the island in Taling Gnam, a quieter part of the island, where the wedding was held. We stayed at The Sunset Beach Resort for AUD $220 a night. Sunset Beach Resort is a lovely option if you want to stay in a quieter part of Ko Samui. It is a 5 star resort, complete with buffet breakfast, a pool with a bar, you can also order food by the pool. The resort has beach front access, which has a nice outlook, but not the best swimming option as the bottom is reef which is not the best to walk on. However, the pool is amazing and many deck chairs to relax by the pool. Stick to canoeing if you want to be in the ocean. You can also wander next door to the Intercontinental for a beverage and to enjoy the pool which has a stunning beach view and pool bar.

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The sunset has a spa on site, you can borrow bikes and there is a muay thai facility. nearby. We ate in the restaurant too and the food was excellent. There is a well fitted out gym, though you do you workout getting to it, but worth it for the view. It was our anniversary and they decorated our room with flower petals and a provided a fruit bowl. The rooms are large, ours had a jacuzzi and there are also villas too. The staff were lovely and eager to assist.

http://www.thesunsetbeachresort.com/

For a bit more extravagance, the Intercontinental is situated higher on the cliff top here at a hefty price, but it is an amazing as a honeymoon location. The hotel is beautiful and the view is incredible. We visited here for a wedding which was superb.

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Getting around

If in Chaweng there are plenty of options to get around: you can walk grab a taxi, a tuk tuk or scooter. If staying in Chaweng, walking is your best bet, you can take the scenic route and stroll along the waters edge or take the main road to take in the boutiques, street food and the action of the bars and restaurants, we loved checking out the live seafood on display.

Cafe Picks

Our pick of cafes for good food and coffee include Spearhead and Cream Cafe.

Cream Cafe

This place is a modern cafe with awesome coffee, smoothies, ice cream and both Thai and Western Dishes. The pick of the dishes being the southern Thai rice salad. Beautifully presented blue and brown rice with served with an assortment of ingredients that are added to taste. The added ingredients which are sprinkled into the bowl and mixed together to create a tasty textured dish. The granola with fresh fruit and yoghurt, is a good option if looking for a western style breakfast. The food was beautifully presented and super tasty. Staff were delightful.

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https://www.facebook.com/creamcafesamui/

Spearhead

Another place to get your coffee fix is the cute little cafe that has just opened in Ko Samui. A trendy and stylish place, selling good filter coffee, cold drip, cold brew and your regular lattes of course. A range of food available and on this occasion we shared the Tokyo Rose, a fluffy blueberry pancake topped with fruits and cream.

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https://www.facebook.com/SpearHead-Cafe-Koh-samui-119850758666499/?ref=page_internal

Galangal

For Thai cusine Galangal is a good option if you are after restaurant food. If you are more adventurous there are plenty of street vendors and a street food market behind the Cental Festival mall Chaweng.

What to do

Taling Gnam Muay Thai

We went here for a group class whilst in the area. They replied to emails quickly and when we arrived were so welcoming and helpful. Warm up, one on one technical training and pad work. Super hard and relentless. We loved it, some
fun sparring at the end. For one hour it was about $10. The trainers were awesome and I highly recommend this place. Small group at 7:30am meant it was practically 1-1 class.

http://kohsamui-muaythai.com/

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Best buffet in Patong @Grand Mercure

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How did we find out about an awesome seafood buffet in Patong, Thailand? It was more by luck than our usual method of putting in time researching. Whilst in Phuket Thailand we stayed at the Grand Mercure Patong, where this buffet was located.

 

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We were enjoying some cocktails by the pool where the mojito’s were amazing. Made with local award winning rum distilled at the Chalong Bay Distillery, a place you can visit, enjoy a bite to eat and tour the facilities. The chocolate and mint mojito a clear standout, made with Hershey’s sauce and the passion fruit mojito, also very good. 

 

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Whilst lapping up the beautiful weather with beverages in hand, we were starting to research and discuss options for a seafood dinner. Whilst in discussion, we noticed the Taste of Asia buffet and seafood BBQ being set up for the evening, with the stations including cuisine from Thailand, China, Japan, Vietnam, and India. 

 

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We further investigated and discovered the price was THB 999 which converts to roughly AUD $40. There was also a promotional 25% discount for downloading the Accor hotel group App. Done and done, easy decision. This option not only convenient, it had a clean and hygienic set up and the food was beautiful displayed and prepared. We were chomping at the bit to get at some fresh seafood and were into it as soon as the buffet opened at 6pm.

 

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The spread was out of this world with a Japanese sushi and sashimi bar prepared whilst you wait, with top quality salmon, tuna and octopus, and this was our first check point. There was a salad bar and cold seafood section including NZ mussels and fresh prawns which also made the first plate.

 

 

This plate of food was conveniently finished, just in time to sample the fresh seafood that was being served straight off the BBQ. There were large river prawns, whole fish, squid and blue swimmer crab charred over hot coals. This was the perfect way to enjoy the natural flavours of the seafood. There was also a range of tasty sauces to accompany the seafood to add even more flavour.

 

The hot food bar could not be passed up with a range of local specialties including curries, the pad thai freshly prepared, as well as tom yum kung. In addition to this there were also satay chicken skewers served straight from the BBQ. With a enticing selection of Chinese BBQ meat including succulent duck and chicken, which had our mouths watering.

With so much delicious food it was going to be a case of our eyes being too big for our stomach. However we did manage to spare some room for dessert. There were many bite sized custard filled Chou pastry profiteroles, tiramisu, creme brulee, a fruit salad selection, a station preparing freshly made fritters and local specialty desserts made with sticky rice.

 

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The buffet at the Grand Mercure is must visit especially if you are after a seafood feast. You are spoilt for choice with delicious, freshly prepared food. The buffet  is one of the best we have tried and it was also great value.

 

Grand Mercure Patong

 

25 courses @Gaggan

 

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After a recommendation from instafoodie friend It’d_be_rude_not_to ,  Gaggan was on our list of places to visit in Bangkok. We were lucky enough to secure a table at this acclaimed restaurant, rated the best in Asia and # 7 in the world in 2017 by Restaurant. It is described as progressive Indian, and we felt it was infused with other Asian influences. Make sure you book ahead of visiting as it is well sought after. Having read mixed reviews which is usually the case online, we went in with an open mind and a hungry stomach. Our booking was 9:30 pm which is pretty normal  in Bangkok.

 

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Our driver missed the unassuming entrance to Gaggan, with a small lit up sign the only give away, so make sure you’re on the lookout. We walked to the entrance down a long dark driveway and at the end stood a well lit two storey converted cottage painted white, with pained glass windows and doors, an out door garden and water feature which was extremely picturesque. 

 

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We are met by the wait staff and led to our table up stairs. Once seated the staff introduced themselves and provided us with the wine list. On the table, the glassware and tableware, a cold refresher towel and transparent strip of paper printed with 25 emoji’s representing the bites to be served for the evening, which was explained by the waitress. Whilst 25 does sounds like alot, however as a hungry diner, amount of food was spot on.  Each dish was a bite sized piece, and paced out it was completely apt. Whilst it is clear this would be a mountain of work for the kitchen to prepare, given the molecular gastronomy techniques being displayed with each dish, each dish arrived presented impeccably and with precise timing as to the dishes received by other diners. This alone is impressive! 

 

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The restaurant is nicely set up, with white linen and staff in generic black and white, not unlike any other fine dining restaurant. We liked the vibe to this place, the staff displaying whimsical humour which complemented the playful menu and food arriving at the table.

 

The meal started on a high note with a large pink salt block arriving at the table with what looked to be an oyster. We gathered the oyster was paired with water melon going by the first emoji on the list. We were amazed when it was confirmed the oyster shell was edible and no oyster present. This dish was like nothing you could imagine, with an opaque purple edible pearl on top. 

 

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We’re not going to outline each dish on the menu, that would spoil the fun for your visit, we will outline some notable dishes for us. 

The tom yum kung which was a cold tom yum puree served in a crisp rice paper and prawn head shell, the vindaloo beef croquette had a nice crisp panko crumb for texture and rich slow cooked vindaloo inside, the cold scallop curry was another stand out.

We also really enjoyed the eggplant cookie and the carrot waffles filled with froi gras and yuzu chutney.

 

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There were two firsts for our dining experience, with one dish called ‘lick it up’ which came in with it’s own 80’s rock theme song which was cool. This dehydrated mushroom dish also inscribed with ‘lick it up’ in green pea puree. This led diners to having to lick it off the plate like a dog. Quite funny to look around the restaurant at this time. 

The fire portion of the menu was an amazing spectacle, the waiter taking to a wooden tray with a blow torch setting the banana leaf outer layer on fire. At one point I was thinking this would not fly in Australia due to OH&S or some fire safety regulation. But this is Thailand and what visitors love are a lack of over restrictive measures and a care free attitude, with a little sprinkle of danger thrown in. We wait for the embers to clear and unwrap the outer banana leaf and inside a melt in your mouth piece of sea bass.

 

 

The desserts were all presented nicely and our favourite would have to be the beetroot and chocolate rose which came to the table in a box that looked like a book. Coincidentally the title of the book including our surname. The minion wasabi ice cream on a stick also added a bit of fun to the meal. The other desserts while nicely presented didn’t really do it for us.

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Other than a dodgy bathroom, this was an interesting and enjoyable experience. The crockery was as impressive as the skill involved in preparing this degustation. The food hit the mark for the most part, as to be expected with a 25 course meal there were going to be some items that didn’t suit our taste. 

 

Is it worth the price tag? Yes. Given there were 25 courses of intricately prepared food that hit the table in our two hour seating, which was an impressive feat and the work involved is nothing to sneeze at.

 

Gaggan

Eclectic must see @Namsaah Bottling Trust

Situated in Bangkok, the must visit Namsaah Bottling Trust is an interestingly cool and quirky restaurant. This converted villa is certainly eclectic, decorated with a colourful mosaic tiled entrance, pink exterior, white shutter windows and and chandelier. You are drawn in by this and the interesting choice of music which reaches out and grabs the attention of you eyes and ears.

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We enter the establishment with curiosity. Once inside, the decoration of the exterior is further extended through and as you walk in, the main wall as you walk in is blue with glittering silver leopards. We are taken up stairs where there are a number of separate dining areas with ostrich feather chandeliers, purple rhino heads looking down at you, old fashioned floor standing lights with colourful shades lined with tassels. The furniture is Victorian Era with dark wooden chairs, colourful pink couches with intricate joinery and lush drapes in the internal door way between dining areas. The white table cloths are the only thing that resembles your standard restaurant.

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A friendly waitresses in her bright pink dress originally greeting us in the car park, it was a wet night, but do not despair, we were provided with umbrellas, bright pink of course. Once seated we were provided with the menus, it was a little dark to read, this we believe was by design to play to your other senses. We were provided mini flash lights and browsed the menus.

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As with the restaurant setting, we were also excited by the cocktail menu. The first page setting their ground rules, removing the wanky gimmicks ie. no mason jars, no cotton candy, no mention of the word ‘prohibition’ and more importantly no cocktails with more ice than alcohol, so you are guaranteed for a stiff drink. This list will not disappoint, making it almost impossible to select. The ‘sang som salted caramel whisky sour’ was a clear standout. The ‘mademoiselle chang’s fix’ was an interesting blend of tea, banana liqueur, passion fruit egg white and rose bud, which works perfectly. They certainly nail the whisky cocktails and ‘the Namsaah Libre’, served out of a cola bottle with specialised pink label filled with a concoction of turkey, lime juice, bitters, vanilla and coca cola was excellent.

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Food wise, the menu is a Thai fusion and perfect for sharing. The salmon tartare in crisp wonton skin taco’s with a bit of Asian flare with flavour combinations, not too different to the Mexican origin of tacos. The favourite starter were the momos, bite sized steamed wagyu beef dumpling with a Thai flavour infused through a sweet pepper sauce. The yellow fin tuna ceviche marinated in coconut milk with green chilli was a nice fresh and light starter.

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For the mains we shared some beautifully cooked roast duck served with a sweet chilli with a touch of curry flavour, this dish is definitely recommended. Not something we would usually order was the black pepper tofu. but we are glad we did. This dish was not lacking in flavour and had plenty of spice. The texture of the tofu was sumptuous and we were glad our choice of something different was rewarded with this tasty meal.

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This place is a must visit if in Bangkok, it ticks all the boxes; Namsaah Bottling trust is interesting and exciting, combining good food with even better cocktails a great atmosphere and a decor that will have you thinking you are Alice in wonderland or in a Dr Seuss book. Very well done!

 

Namsaah Bottling Trust