A little while ago last year, P decided to have her hen’s party in Thailand – specifically an epic week in Koh Samui.
Unfortunately, she caught an awful cold just before the trip and was quarantined in the study of our hired villa for much of the week.
P did manage to come out a couple of times to take in some of the sights.
Our villa was a little ways away from the main street – it was a either a short drive or a 20-minute walk. Either way, we got to see some pretty interesting things, like crazy, messy, super low power lines, durians in a bin (how can you tell when they’re off? They looked pretty nice to me!), a spray-painted Hendrix van and kids hang on the back of a truck on their way home from school.
I discovered that there’s nothing quite like having a cold, fresh pineapple and coconuts served to you on the beach. She was so quick and deft with the knife – it was amazing to watch!
I was equally amazed at her wiry strength – I’m sure the goods she’s carrying aren’t light and to carry them on sand too!
On our way home, we were irresistibly drawn to a street pad thai stall, where our chef made our pad thai virtually from scratch right there and then.
He was like an octopus! With speed and agility, he grabbed various ingredients to his left and right – dumping them into the hot wok. Then before you knew it, he was done.
I thought that was it, but he indicated that we should add some toppings to finish our pad thai off. Damn, that’s pretty awesome for 60 Baht (about $2)!!
It’s interesting that local pad thai is actually quite a lot sweeter than we what would have in Sydney – though saying that, it’s still quite delicious.
I’ve heard of Dr. Fish, but I didn’t really give it much thought – I mean, using fish to eat away at your dead skin? That’s just creepy – who in their right mind would do that?!
Well, it turned out R and I would… just out of curiosity, mind you. We paid 200 Baht (about $7) for 20 minutes and it was the most weirdest 20 minutes of our lives; no joke. It was also very ticklish and I couldn’t stop myself from randomly giggling at the nibbling. It was really gross and creepy-feeling when they started to nom at our calves though.
But we had to admit, the fish really did a great job cleaning up our dry heels – our feet had never felt so soft and smooth! I think R would do it again, but I would definitely hesitate for a second round. I don’t know if awesome-feeling feet was worth the creepy noming.
We felt that it would be remiss of us not to try a fine dining restaurant while we here.
P’s sister suggested a restaurant that blew her away last time she was here: Zazen.
The resort absolutely astounded us with its gorgeous, fantasy-like setting (oh all those fairy lights!!).
We were escorted down a dimly-lit, gently winding walkway that had two quietly chuckling streams (one either side), passing other winding walkways that led to places like that amazing massage room pictured at the bottom.
Zazen, also the name of restaurant, is basically wall-less – it is constructed like a huge fancy hut lit with gorgeous lanterns – and situated right next to an inky black ocean. Not a surprise then that we needed a book light to read our gigantic menus!
French Chef Stéphane has put together an insanely large menu that consists of dishes that are French, Thai and a fusion of both. There were so much variety on offer that we really found it hard to choose what to order!
So we had some really pretty cocktails and fresh juices while we decided…
The amuse bouche (pictured top right) was quite lovely, but it paled next to the delicious entrees that were brought to the table soon after.
We ordered the crispy fried soft shell crab with seasame and spicy tamarind dip-sauce (280 Baht), which I was advised to eat without the dipping sauce, crispy fried crab spring rolls (210 Baht) and the spicy glass noodles salad with seafood (260 Baht) – which I was also advised to avoid.
An advice I didn’t take and tried it anyway – I figured that it’s about time I really try to push the envelope of my chilli intolerance. I tried… but holy moly, most of the dinner was spent trying to put my burning tastebuds out. I still don’t know how you guys do it…
While the spring rolls weren’t the table’s favourite, the fried soft shell crab liberally sprinkled with black and white sesame seeds was fantastic – full of flavour and perfectly crispy. It was a pity there wasn’t enough for the six of us!
One of my favourite dishes of the night had to be the lobster twist (590 Baht). The fresh Canadian lobster “poêlée” on top of saffron fettuccine and doused in a light lobster bisque cream sauce. I adored the creamy, slightly briny sauce and the dish had such a full-bodied flavour that I wish I had it all to myself.
Another dish that I was advised against tasting was the spicy prawns salad with green mango, lemongrass and fresh herbs (320 Baht), but I was told it was quite a refreshingly bright salad.
The crab meat in red curry with rice vermicelli noodles (280 Baht) didn’t have that much crab meat in it, but I loved the strong flavour of the curry – the folks at Zazen really do make a mean curry!
The refreshing apple granita signalled the mains to come – and if the entrees were anything to go by, I was pretty excited!
The perfectly seasoned steamed seabass in lime and chili marinade (480 Baht) was very well cooked, but it was kind of overshadowed by the Best of Samui (850 Baht). It consisted of grilled assorted king tiger prawns, sea bass, lobster, squid, sea scallops, black in fettuccine and grilled vegetables. Every single morsel on that dish was cooked to perfection, well-seasoned and sweetly succulent.
The stir fried sea scallops with green asparagus (580 Baht) was fabulous in flavour – the sauce was quite earthy in flavour, which paired nicely with the sweetness of the plump scallops and brightness of the asparagus. It was a huge hit with the table (in particular, R and I).
Another hit with the table was the red curry with roasted duck and coconut (310 Baht) – they definitely know how to make their curries! (Though noted that it’s red curry again, but points for consistency? Haha) Like the crab meat curry, I loved this roasted duck and coconut version; it was a pity that it was more on the spicier side than I could tolerate, though I did try!
I’m not sure which dish the bottom left is, all I remember is that it was quite spicy so I had to leave it well enough alone.
On the other hand, I really enjoyed the wok fried king tiger prawns in tamarind sauce (560 Baht), but I have to admit that it didn’t shine as brightly as the other dishes.
We had to specify a time for our pick-up and it was quickly approaching, but we had just enough time for desserts (thank goodness!).
Hands down, the Chocolate tube, iced mascarpone cream, ganache and coffee ice cream (300 Baht) was the ugliest and best tasting dessert (and yes, we giggled quite a bit over it before we ate it). The chocolate was decadent and so smooth, while the tube unbelievably delicate and crispy.
Meanwhile, the praline pannacotta with “croquant” (240 Baht) was clearly the prettiest and its deliciousness proved that it wasn’t just a pretty face.
The minestrone strawberry balsamic syrup, white chocolate mousse and crunchy almond tile (320 Baht) had a sweetness that was tempered by the mousse and almond tile.
The Zazen restaurant was gorgeously decorated, which isn’t a surprise considering what the rest of the resort looks like, and the wait staff were attentive and quite friendly. Most of the dishes we had that night were hits, but I think the “misses” were more that there were better dishes on the table than not being a great dish itself.
While I loved the variety of the menu, I found the sheer amount of variety in the dishes, as well as the degustations and banquets available, to be a bit overwhelming.
In any case, if you ever find yourself in Koh Samui, do try Zazen out – it’s definitely an experience you won’t quickly forget.
Zazen Boutique Resort & Spa
Samui Ring Road, Bo Phut
177, Moo 1, Tambon Bophut 84320
Koh Samui, Suratthani, Thailand
Ph: +66 7742 5085