Making A Beeline – Chef Bee at Silavadee Pool Spa Resort homes in on what makes good food great.

silavadee

Silavadee is a Thai word that translates as ‘beautiful rocks’, which is quite a humble way of describing the resort’s magnificent setting. It’s located on a headland in the midst of a lush garden dotted with boulders, trees and all manner of tropical foliage. Every part of it, not just the rocks, is beautiful. And then there’s the sea. The resort, situated up a lane close to Lamai, overlooks one of the most private bays on the island, a sweeping cove backed by still more trees. Not surprisingly, the resort is favoured by couples, families and others seeking seclusion and respite from a frantic world.

Many resort owners would be content with just the setting, but at Silavadee, the management care very much about food and accommodation, too. Both are on the luxurious side, with beautifully appointed villas and rooms, and then there are the resort’s dining outlets that afford great value and the most tempting of foods.

silavadeeChef Jumpol Hiran is the executive chef at Silavadee, a professional who’s had two decades honing his skills. More usually known as Chef Bee, he’s an approachable figure, as are all the staff in the hotel, and is able to provide just about anything his guests might require, whether it’s a romantic dinner or a full-scale wedding reception. He’s very gifted when it comes to Thai cuisine, but is equally at home when it comes to preparing international food – he worked in Cyprus for a while, and has also gained considerable knowledge of Scandinavian cuisine.

A whole range of restaurants is to be found at Silavadee; each has great views and wonderful food. ‘Sun’ specializes in barbecue food and is an al fresco deck with beautiful sea views. It includes a pool bar, too. ‘Moon’, meanwhile, is a modern take on a teak dining room, an all-day dining venue offering breakfast, lunch and dinner. The accent here is on informal dining with extensive international and Mediterranean cuisine. Head up to the building’s flat roof and you’ll have a panoramic view across the sea, ideal for cocktails. You can enjoy a select tapas menu here at ‘Star’, as it’s called, but also enjoy gourmet dinners at just four tables sunk into an infinity pool. For couples, this must surely be one of the island’s finest romantic dining opportunities.

silavadeeFor lovers of Thai food, head for ‘The Height’. With its two air-conditioned sections and extensive out-door terraces, it’s very popular. On the menu are some very traditional Thai treats, along with a few western takes on old favourites – think massaman curry, but made with lamb. On Tuesday nights Chef Bee puts on an amazing Thai buffet here, called Taste of Siam. Phone ahead to reserve your table and avoid disappointment.

Being responsible for all the food in the resort is enough to keep most chefs busy, but Chef Bee’s always on the lookout for new ways to please his diners, and often gives the menus an update, adding in completely new dishes or making adjustments to old favourites.

Just recently he’s come up with some amazingly mouth-watering innovations for lunch times at Silavadee. Try the Silavadee Premium Burger, which is a Wagyu delight along with foie gras. It comes with French fries and is a filling choice for anyone who’s hungry. Continuing the Wagyu theme, try the skewer which is replete with Marbling 4, a very tender beef. This comes with barbecue sauce and French fries. Or how about a brunch-style croissant? But this one’s not the casual accompaniment to a cup of coffee; it’s filled with smoked salmon along with onion and dill. Perhaps it harkens back to his Scandinavian influences, but it’s no less welcome out here in tropical Thailand.

silavadeeSomething that’s unique on Samui, if not in the whole of Thailand, is the watermelon feta salad, which may appear to look like a dessert but which turns out to be an appetizer. It’s light, summery and cooling and one of those instances where certain fruits and cheeses go together inordinately well.

Special dinner treats are to be had at Moon. Chef Bee and his skilled team have some exquisite dishes that you won’t want to miss. A must is the whole, poached lobster in red pepper cheese sauce. It strikes just the right balance between savoury and spice notes. The snow fish accompanied by couscous salad is yet one more outstanding dish, this time redolent of North African coastlines.

silavadeeMany ingredients are imported from the west, but a plethora of domestic products are carefully chosen from suppliers on the island, where possible, or from Thai farmers elsewhere in the country. Everything’s guaranteed to be utterly fresh – you’ll see this as soon as you order your first dish. Salads and vegetables are all crisp and vibrant in taste. Small touches abound. For example – not many culinary teams bother with this – just look at the French fries they serve here. Not only do they come perfectly prepared but they arrive at your table hot, and not lukewarm. Who wants mushy mulched-down fries after all? And to keep them as hot for as long as possible they come served not slung on your plate but standing to attention in a glass receptacle. “That’s not for decoration alone,” says Khun Bee. “The glass serves to keep the fries warm, and for longer than they would be normally.” Unless you’re in the restaurant business yourself, you probably won’t even notice half the ways the team at Silavadee has thought out how to please its diners.

Silavadee also has something that few other resorts can boast: its own bakery. You can see it in operation as you head through Moon towards your table. It’s quietly yet continuously productive, and makes everything from early-morning croissants through to luxurious pastries for dinner. Silavadee could just have relied instead on outside help – but they chose not to. Setting up a bakery is hard; running it efficiently is harder still – but it’s a great thing to do as diners can be sure that all the baked goods are incredibly fresh.

silavadeeThe month of May always marks the anniversary of Silavadee’s founding; this time it’s the resort’s ninth birthday, and there will be various promotions and celebrations through the month to mark the special occasion. Check out the website (see below) and the resort’s Facebook page for updates; good times are guaranteed! Incidentally, if you’re coming from Lamai as a party of two or more, or four if from Chaweng or Bophut, then the resort throws in a complimentary pick-up service, though you’re advised to book in advance.

Whether you’re hankering for some pâtisserie, tapas, a memorably good lunch or dinner, or just some very fine sundown cocktails, Silavadee covers a lot of ground when it comes to fine food and does it all exceptionally well. Thanks to Khun Bee and his team, the resort is definitely on Samui’s culinary map of places to go.

Dimitri Waring

For reservations or further information telephone 0 7796 0555.
www.silavadeeresort.com