Samui Wining & Dining
Zama Rooftop Kitchen/Bar wows with brilliant food and architecture.

Zama Rooftop Kitchen/Bar wows with brilliant food and architecture.

Take extraordinary architecture and put it in the hands of a top-notch chef and tell him or her to come up with a restaurant, furnishings and, of course, an excellent menu, and the results will be amazingly diverse, with each chef unfurling their very own creative dream. Over at newly-opened Zama Rooftop Kitchen/Bar, you can see that chef Martin Selby has combined the eye-catching setting with a unique East-meets-West menu.


Zama is to be found at Prana Resort Nandana, on the Bophut to Bangrak road. Head out from Fisherman’s Village and the road cuts through the resort just before it comes to Bangrak. The car park is on your right. The entire setting is extremely stylish, yet puts its visitors at ease. The avant-garde reception, with its airy vaulted look, leads you round to a cosy bar, which overlooks the extensive swimming pool. It’s the ideal place for a drink, or, since Zama’s open all day from breakfast through to dinner, you may well want a snack or light meal here. (Opening hours are from 7:00 am to 11:00 pm.) Zama and all its surroundings seem to have been designed for lingering and you’re more than welcome to do so. You can even drink while at the swim-up bar - the management are happy for you to come and use the pool, making this an excellent spot for anyone driving round the island and wanting a break and a swim at the same time.


The restaurant itself is on the first floor of the building. You can walk up a corkscrew staircase taking in the view of the resort as you go, but if you don’t feel like doing so, you can take the elevator. But you might want to take it anyway, as I’ll warrant that you won’t have seen one like this before, ever. A door opens onto what seems to be an air well. Where’s the elevator? You’ll by now be standing on it;Zama Rooftop Kitchen/Bar wows with brilliant food and architecture.a platform that rests flush against the very white walls. There’s no ceiling to the elevator and you’ll look up and see the door to the restaurant above you. The floor simply rises up to meet it. And you step out onto the elegantly-furnished terrace that is Zama. You can enjoy spectacular views out over the sea and the sheer open-air feel to the place.


So far, you’ve been wowed by the architecture and the setting; now you’ll need to take a few breaths before you’re wowed by the menu. But perhaps first start with a cocktail - as well as the usual favourites, you’ll also find gourmet delights for the more adventurous; try The Ninja’s Wife, which is made of fresh ginger, lemongrass, lemon juice, pink grapefruit juice and sake. Or perhaps the similarly unique Rosie’s Zippy Rhubarb, which is gold tequila, homemade rhubarb syrup with fresh rosemary, chilli, fresh lime and sea salt.


Zama concentrates on what it calls fine Thai and modern European cuisines. It’s a departure from the standard-style Thai menus, with dishes here featuring creative fusion, while its European selection offers rustic fine dining complete with all the fine touches to go with the cuisine. It’s hard to make recommendations when everything on the menu looks so good.


One thing you’ll find about the menus is that they’re refreshingly easy to understand; on an island where so many nationalities congregate, the descriptions of the food are kept simple and you certainly don’t have to be a chef or even a food connoisseur to understand what’s going on. There are three menus: breakfast, lunch and dinner, and a separate one for desserts. For lunch, you can opt for a burger, or one of Zama’s foot long pizzas (try Thai Laab Chicken, for example, or the three-cheese treat).Zama Rooftop Kitchen/Bar wows with brilliant food and architecture. Or, on the Asian side, how about Momofako? Behind the name you’ll find sticky belly pork, pickled bok choi in a home-made steamed bun.


Dinner is always a time of day to look forward to if you’re on Samui, and Zama certainly fulfils expectations when it comes to tastiness. The menu is deceptively select and is basically divided into Western Smalls, Eastern Smalls, Western Mains and Eastern Mains. Since you’re in Asia and in a very cosmopolitan restaurant, you can have the best of both East and West. So for smalls you could pick, for example, the Mieng Hoy Shell (Hokkaido scallops, betel leaf and cashew nuts) or the delicious Som Tam Rolls, and enjoy together with a Wild Mushroom Fricassée or the Beetroot and Vodka-cured Salmon.


Prepare to be spoiled again by the main courses. The menu has dishes such as lasagne, pork tenderloin (it comes wrapped in Serrano ham) or opt for the Pasture Fed Australian Ribeye Steak – all good, hearty options. On the Asian side, you’ll find further treats such as Zama’s Fried Tiger Prawns in Sweet and Sour Tamarind Sauce or their Steamed Snowfish, prepared with fresh lime, chilli and coriander.


Zama also has a full selection of wines and champagne to perfectly match the food. If you’re not sure what’s best to go with the dishes you’ve chosen, simply ask the wait staff who’ll be able to guide you.


Once dinner’s over the select dessert menu will be next on the agenda. Safe to say it’s going to tempt you with its medley of treats. Try the white chocolate cremeux with sour cherries and almond streusel. Or the unusual, but tasty, black pepper strawberries with rosemary shortbread and gin and tonic sorbet. You’ll also find ice-cream if you’re more of a traditionalist, and then there’s that rarity on Samui, a selection of cheeses. Not many restaurants offer that, but you’ll find it here at Zama, accompanied by crackers and chutneys.


There are plenty of reasons to head for Zama and it’s safe to say that no matter why you decide to come, you’re bound to be very pleasantly surprised by just what this stylish new restaurant has to offer.


 Dimitri Waring


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