Discovering Baitong – The delightful restaurant at Banana Fan Sea Resort is another hidden gem!

baitong

Take a stroll along Chaweng Beach Road. At first it’s perhaps a bit confusing. It’s full of shops, stalls, restaurants, pubs, bars, massage places and a whole load more besides. But after a while you’ll start to notice things. For instance, all but a small handful of the resorts are located on one side – the side that runs on to the beach. There’s quite a distance between the road and the beach, and some of these resorts have a very wide frontage, too. But the one thing they’ve all got in common is that you can’t see inside. There are probably 100 resorts here of all shapes and sizes. But you can’t see into them like you
can with the restaurants and shops.

And that means you’ll just keep walking past them. There might be some of the finest restaurants and spas on the island tucked away here, but unless you have a good reason to go inside, you’ll never know. Well that’s something we can fix right away. Because when you get to the delightfully-named Banana Fan Sea Resort, slow down. Walk up the steps and smile your way through reception, following the path towards the sea. You’ll come out by the side of the pool, so follow the path around the pool to your right. And the very good reason you are doing this is that you’ll then come right into the resort’s signature restaurant, Baitong.

baitongBaitong restaurant is typically tropical; an open-sided roofed space, in this case on two of its sides. But there are also outer terraces, too, and on some occasions they’ll set up right on the adjoining sand as well. The décor is contemporary; stylish and subtle with rich, sturdy wood, terracotta and natural fabrics, and with live orchids and fresh blooms on the tables to
enhance this. And you’ll additionally discover that all the staff are memorable: they’re really friendly and helpful, and will go out of their way to assist you and put you at your ease. In fact, after a while, you’ll genuinely begin to feel you’re part of some kind of family – it’s that relaxed.

Although we’re focusing on the evening dinner menu, it’s also worth mentioning that this is a cool and laid-back spot to drop in during the day. The shady bar is ideal for stopping awhile to check your emails or Facebook, while you sip a
drink or take an afternoon snack. Plus this is also a great way of scouting it all out, too. Take a look at the dinner menu or ask about the happy hours. But keep it in mind that the best way to enjoy Baitong is to come for dinner in the evening.

baitongComing out and down the steps after the lobby, you’ll make your way through what’s now become the unrecognisable fairyland of glimmering under lit trees and bushes that shroud the bungalows, and emerge into the open space of the embryonic-shaped pool, which is now wonderfully side-lit and glowing. The lights of Baitong are now warm and discretely
romantic: a disarmingly-charming transformation after having first seen it in the hard light of the sun.

The menu here features international items and Thai dishes. And two points right away: not only is the meat and some of the seafood specially imported (beef and mussels from New Zealand, for instance) but the international dishes are
created with flair, as you’ll see from some examples in just a moment. The second point is the Thai offerings. Yes, there are all the usual favourites that you’re familiar with. But there are also some surprises, too: several dishes that you won’t normally come across. In other words, this is not the often-seen and somewhat dull ‘steak and fries’ kind of menu. This is something different and well-worth exploring. And the prices are exceptional, too, very reasonable indeed, with the most-expensive dish (imported grilled beef sirloin) coming in at just 650 baht, and all the pasta/pizza items averaging-out to
only 250 baht each.

baitongThe international menu is predictably organised into appetisers, salads, soups, Italian dishes, mains and desserts, plus an addition selection of vegetarian dishes. One must is the Authentic Greek Salad; tomatoes, cucumbers, green and black olives, feta cheese . . . but served on the intriguingly-different ‘half a dragon fruit’. See what I mean about being ‘created with flair’? (But then there are five ‘custom’ salads amongst the others and it’s hard to choose between them anyway.) Or how about the Pan Fried Fillet of Sea Bass, served with Creamy Spinach, sweet Pepper and Balsamic Sauce? Or the Grilled Duck Breast topped with Orange Sauce with Vegetable and Potato William? Both of these items are less than 390 baht, by the way!

Over on the Thai side of things, once again there are the usual suspects – curries, stir-fries, noodles and seafood. But some things leap out at you: such as the roasted duck curry or the stir-fried blue crab. And the Massaman curry is simply delicious. This is a truly Southern-Thai dish with an Indian bias; here it comes in coconut milk with sweet potatoes (yams) peanuts, and with pickled vegetables and toasted bread on the side. (And at 250 baht that’s probably less than you’d
pay in a restaurant outside on the street!).

baitongPlus I have to mention that there are two happy hours where you can get your drinks at a discount – one from midday to 3.00 pm and the other between 5.00 pm and 7.00 pm. Make a note to go early and enjoy the happy hour sunset before your dinner!

And I also have to say that you can enjoy all of this and more every Thursday, when there is a super beach BBQ with live entertainment. The à la carte menu is in place also, so you can take your pick.

But seeing that it’s Songkran this month – Baitong is just the place to seek shelter and take a break! Head in, dry off, take a well-needed happy hour drink, relax and have a joke about “how wet it is today” with the delightful staff, and maybe even a snack while you’re there. There’s so much more to discovering Banana Fan Sea Resort and Baitong than merely food!

Rob De Wet

For reservations or further information,telephone 0 7741 3483-6.
www.bananafansea.com