Samui Wining & Dining
Nora Buri Resort & Spa has a brilliant chef to navigate the culinary waters of Samui.

Nora Buri Resort & Spa has a brilliant chef to navigate the culinary waters of Samui.If someone asked you to imagine a treasure ship, how would it look? In all probability it’d have three masts, rigging and plenty of sails. In short, it’ll look like it’s stepped out of a history book. There seems to be no other kind. But try this now: imagine the ship isn’t a typical schooner but instead it’s a barge. Yes, a barge. And filled with treasure. Can such a thing exist? It can and does. It turns out that Samui has its own treasure barge, though the treasure is something quite untypical, not coins or gold or silver. This time it’s culinary treasures – dozens and dozens of authentic Thai recipes that have been handed down through the generations


The Barge is a very large building that has been created to look a little like one of the old-style rice barges that were once a common sight on the waterways of Bangkok. From the coast you can see what looks like a ship heading from the land out to sea. Once inside the building, however, you’ll find that it’s technically home to two restaurants, The Barge (international menu) and Rice Barge & Terrace (Thai menu). They’re collectively known as The Barge and are located at Nora Buri Resort & Spa, just a few minutes’ drive north of Chaweng. To get there take the beach road for three kilometres and keep on going (don’t take the turnoff to the airport) and you’ll soon see the signposts for the resort. Note that the restaurant can’t be seen from the road as it’s set on the slopes beneath.


The restaurant has made a name for itself since its earliest days; the Nora Group, who run it, make sure that it’s staffed by some of the region’s most dedicated chefs. The group has a total of four resorts on Samui, and each is highly successful, providing all-round excellent service. You might think that it’s a national chain but it turns out that this is a local group with international interests at heart. Nora Buri Resort & Spa has a brilliant chef to navigate the culinary waters of Samui.The Barge has already won awards for its unique architectural design. With its contemporary architecture yet traditional Thai cuisine, it scores points for both the setting and the high quality of the food.


Khun Surachai Katanyutanont, who is a maestro of a chef, is in charge of providing the extraordinarily mouth-watering dishes at The Barge. He’s selected Thai dishes that come from all over the country. Each is authentic to its roots and the presentation is excellent. The food tastes every bit as good as it looks. Khun Surachai wants each diner to be completely satisfied with their meal.


He is extremely well-trained in cooking; he started when he was young, almost 40 years ago, under the guidance of his mother. He soon found he had a talent for making great-tasting dishes. He realized that cooking was something he really wanted to pursue as a career, and when he left school, he approached hotels and was eventually given a start, as a simple kitchen helper. He learned all he could and was soon applying for jobs that required cooking. His lucky break came when the Royal Orchid Sheraton group asked him to come aboard. He did so and when he left it was as sous-chef. From there he gained ever more expertise until he was eventually snapped up by a five-star Phuket resort; they wanted him to be executive chef. He’d come a long way since his first days in the kitchen and now he could afford to really indulge his passion for cooking. After Phuket, he came to Samui, again to be executive chef at a five-star resort, where he spent some years. With the opening of The Barge in 2009, he became executive chef here, looking after their full chain of restaurants. As such he’s also able to cook westernstyle food, and it turns out there’s little that he doesn’t know how to do. He’s certainly skilled at spoiling diners with both Thai and international favourites.


Some of Khun Surachai’s recommendations are the crab curry and noodles with vegetables, a truly delicious seafood feast which is impeccably served along with a generous amount of vegetables. Then there’s the massaman curry, Nora Buri Resort & Spa has a brilliant chef to navigate the culinary waters of Samui.true to its southern Thai origins, which abounds in delicate tastes. There’s a full range of Thai treats, an entire spectrum of the nation’s food, and you’ll be spoiled for choice. If you’re not sure what to have, then you might want to opt for a Thai set meal. There are two of these and each comprises seven courses. Tastes are exquisite and if you’ve never really eaten Thai food before, then you won’t go wrong with either of these culinary journeys. If you’re in a particularly romantic mood, then you’ll enjoy the Candlelight Seafood Set. After appetizers and soup, you’ll be given a beautifully-presented basket of tiger prawns, salmon, squid, mussels and blue crab. It’s accompanied by side dishes and ends with dessert.


In addition to the wonderful food and drink, there’s plenty of atmosphere at the restaurant with a professional musician playing gentle tunes on a wood xylophone, or ‘kim’, one of Thailand’s favourite traditional instruments. The service, incidentally, is as seamless as the food itself, with friendly staff making your meal a wonderful occasion.


One of the best things about eating here comes right at the end of any meal: the bill. You might be expecting that it’s going to sting; after all, you’ll have dined in style and in unusual settings that required an extraordinary amount of architectural know-how. Yet when the bill comes, you’ll immediately see that it’s very reasonable and that the prices for each item are in keeping with a much humbler restaurant.


 Dimitri Waring


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