Alive Alive Oh! – You can’t get seafood any fresher than at Sabienglae.


In Dublin’s fair city,
Where the girls are so pretty,
I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone,
As she wheeled her wheelbarrow,
Through streets broad and narrow,
Crying, “Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh!”

This very old, yet popular song has become the unofficial anthem of Dublin in Ireland. It tells the fictional tale of Molly Malone, a fishmonger who plied her trade selling live shellfish on the streets of Dublin.

If you want to find live seafood, including cockles and mussels whilst you are here on Samui, you can go to one of the fresh fish markets and cook it yourself, or a much better option whilst on holiday, is to go along to one of the two Sabienglae restaurants. They specialise in live seafood, and you can choose from a wide variety such as lobster, mantis shrimp, river shrimp, king crab, blue crab, oysters and fish such as grouper or snapper.

SabienglaeAt Sabienglae, they will cook your chosen seafood any way you want. The chefs are very adept and experienced. They will fry, steam, bake or barbeque – with or without an accompanying sauce, you decide! Pick your own fish or shellfish
and then see and taste the transformation when it is cooked, presented and served. All live seafood is sold by weight; choose the biggest or smallest, according to your appetite or wallet!

There are many variations on the extensive menu, all with photos to help you decide, and all at very respectable prices. One of the signature dishes for live seafood is ‘River Prawns with Tamarind Sauce’. The tamarind sauce, as well as all their food, is prepared in the traditional Thai way. The result is a very special, slightly sour taste that really brings out the flavour of the prawns.

Khun Nai is the very helpful, calm and patient manager of Sabienglae at the Wharf. He speaks excellent English, and knows everything there is to know about the 227 dishes on the menu, as well as which wine, beer, whisky, juice or shake
best accompanies each dish. The staff are attentive, the service excellent and the menu is in English, Chinese and Thai.

SabienglaeMenu highlights include; lobster (barbequed, thermidor, masaman and many more variations). Deep fried white snapper with chilli sauce which you can have without the central bone. Sabienglae’s signature salad of crab, scallops and fish with a special, and not too salty, fish sauce. Deep fried king prawn with tamarind sauce, prawns are minimum 100g (huge) and served butterfly style. Crispy catfish salad with a special green mango sauce. Top coconut turnip spicy salad, actually it’s not really turnip, but the top part of the coconut tree trunk which definitely does taste just like that root vegetable! Deep fried king crab with Indian curry is just as it says – and if you like crab, really is one dish not to miss out on! Sea urchin, octopus, oysters on a hot plate, preserved eggs with shrimp paste, a real authentic island style Thai papaya salad, and don’t forget the Asian favourite; tom yum goong – a spicy Thai seafood soup with prawns.

Seafood not your thing? Don’t worry, there are meat or vegetarian dishes to try, as well as European favourites such as French onion soup, salads, burgers, fish and chips, spaghetti, steak, beef stroganoff and a very extra special ‘Chicken in a Basket’, you can actually eat the basket! There really are so many established favourites, as well as brand new dishes for you to try, Khun Nai tries to encourage everyone to eat ‘Thai style’. This means that you order a variety of different dishes and share them. It’s a great way to try a little of everything and maybe you’ll get something new that you would never have thought of ordering.

If you want to be seriously adventurous, ask Khun Nai about the special ‘only in Thai’ part of the menu. He will translate and explain these traditional southern Thai specialities. For example, the pork belly is boiled for a long time in salt water. This was originally done over charcoal before electricity or gas bottles arrived in Samui. It was originally a way to save and store the pork as it will keep good for about one month like this.

SabineglaeIf you still have room for dessert, there are six Thai favourites to choose from including mango with sticky rice, pancakes and banana in coconut milk. Or maybe one of the many Leonardo Italian ice-cream or sorbet flavours will entice you. They are home-made in Lamai and include; black chocolate with red chilli, tiramisu, blackberry, lemongrass or Khun Nai’s favourite, mango. Finish off with Italian coffee and you have most definitely had a great meal to remember, long
after you return home.

Sabienglae has become well known across the island for good, honest and genuine Thai cuisine. All the food is fresh and sourced locally, direct from the fishermen or markets. All sauces are made from scratch, the Thai way. The owners
grow their own organic vegetables and herbs to use in their restaurants, adding an element of healthiness to all your dishes.

The first Sabienglae restaurant opened 12 years ago, next to one of Samui’s famous sightseeing spots known as Grandmother and Grandfather (Hin Ta and Hin Yai) Rocks, close to Lamai. It’s right on the ring road just south of the entrance to these rocks. The other one is at another prime location right by the ocean in The Wharf shopping mall in Bophut. The restaurant boasts a fantastic view across the idyllic turquoise waters of the Gulf of Thailand out to the island of Koh Pha-Ngan, past boats and yachts dotted closer to the shore. It’s a quiet and relaxing spot to enjoy lunch, dinner or just a drink and a snack. There is no traffic here, just the leisurely strolling of people on holiday with nowhere to rush to.

Both restaurants are very popular so it can get quite busy especially at lunch and dinner times. Friday evening in The Wharf is the busiest time of the week due to the walking street event. If you prefer it quiet, it’s better to go between 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm, especially on a Friday.

If you desire the freshest and tastiest seafood around, be sure to visit one of the Sabienglae restaurants. You can arrive, or maybe leave, singing ‘alive alive oh’!

Karan Ladd

For reservations or further information, telephone 0 7743 0094 (The Wharf), 0 7723 3082 (Grandmother and Grandfather Rocks)