Fan-Sea That! – Hidden away in plain sight is one of the friendliest little restaurants on the island – Baitong at Banana Fan Sea Resort.

Baitong

Samui is just cram-full of hotels and resorts. And no place more so than the famous Chaweng Beach Road. It’s five kilometres long, and is packed end-to-end with places to stay. There are little garden resorts, boutique resorts and one or two family-owned places that still survive. And then there are the 4-star and 5-star beach resorts – mostly filling huge swathes of premium land, and with grand and imposing entrances.

But have you ever thought about this – every one of these places has two totally separate fronts? Take a short walk along the beach road and see what I mean. In some places the road is quite a long way from the beach; also there are also dozens of smaller beachside resorts, with their restaurants that you can’t even see from the road – but what you see from the beach is quite another thing.

BaitongAnd then there are the big imposing resorts. These places have a frontage that gives you no idea about what lies inside – some of these resorts are so big that all you’ll see is a long wall with a small entrance-way into the reception area. In other
words, what you see from the road outside is nothing at all like what you’ll find down on the seaside, along the beach. And the very lovely Banana Fan Sea Resort is a good example of this.

You’ll come across Banana Fan Sea towards the southern part of the beach road; go past the main McDonald’s towards where the one-way road begins, and it’s situated just a few hundred metres before this. Look out for the landmark of Buri
Rasa. Banana Fan Sea is only another 100 metres further along, and easy to spot if you’re in a car or taxi. On the other hand, if you’re coming along the beach you’ll have to be more careful, particularly after dark when everything looks so
similar. Look for the beach restaurants’ names: Buri Rasa has ‘The Beach Club’, which is confusingly right next to ‘KC Beach Club’. And adjacent to this is the beachside restaurant at Banana Fan Sea, named Baitong.

BaitongBaitong restaurant is styled very much along tropical lines – essentially a roofed-over space that’s open at the sides. Here there’s an inner area with comfy, sturdy seating and all very discretely and beautifully lighted. But there are also outer
terraces running alongside the pool and on a raised terrace, under the stars and right up above the edge of the sand. Once a week, they’ll set up the tables on the beach itself when they have their buffet evening; more of this in just a moment.

BaitongYou’ll need to go in, to spend some time with the staff, either via the front entrance and reception or coming in off the beach to the restaurant, to appreciate this ‘value-added’ aspect. Over the years I’ve written almost a thousand stories about Samui and its restaurants, and I’ve come into contact with three times that number of hotel and resort staff. One way for resorts to save money is via their staff and wage bills each month – leading to poorly trained workers unfamiliar with western standards of service, and with low English skills. Not so here at Banana Fan Sea. All of the staff are simply super; open, friendly and responsive, and with a calm, smiling confidence that highlights the grace and serenity of the Thai people to maximum advantage. It’s a pleasure interacting with the staff in this resort and in their restaurant.

And before you start thinking “. . . yes, but we’re here for the food, not to chat with the staff,” think again. Maybe 70% of the complaints you see on TripAdvisor are about just this; a dining experience spoiled by the offhand or seeming rudeness of the staff. No matter how good the food is, poor service will completely spoil your enjoyment – but this doesn’t happen at Banana Fan Sea!

BaitongYou can chose from international items or Thai dishes. And not only is the meat and some of the seafood specially imported (prime cuts of beef and also mussels from New Zealand, for instance) but these international dishes are created with flair. This isn’t the dull, safe ‘steak and fries’ kind of menu. This is something different and well-worth exploring. 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 400 baht.

Make a note of Banana Fan Sea and Baitong, look out for it, and drop in one afternoon for a coffee or a snack to check it out. Take a long look at the dinner menu. Then come back again later for a full-tilt dinner. The best time to come is probably
round-about sunset. Not only is the sky an impressionist painter’s palette of light with the gold and rose and the fiery hues of the setting sun, but you’ll also benefit from the happy hour that runs between 5.00 pm and 7.00 pm, just the thing to put you in the mood!

BaitongBut if you really want to combine the best of both worlds, get yourself over to Baitong on a Thursday evening. This is when the tables are all moved down onto the sand for the ‘BBQ Buffet’. It’s a fairyland experience, with a multitude of hot and cold dishes, live cooking stations, and even a spectacular fire dancing and juggling show to give you a break from all that fabulous food. Not only is the cost as reasonable as all the other prices, but you can opt to eat from the main menu, too, if
you have kids or people in your party who don’t have big appetites. And this buffet is just 799 baht.

There are many, many restaurants you can choose from – you’re totally spoiled for choice. But now you also know about Banana Fan Sea Resort and their super restaurant, Baitong. Let’s hope this is one that catches your ‘fan sea’!

Rob De Wet

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