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For culinary adventurers, Thailand is a land of endless delights – vibrant, intense, and unique. The Thai people’s love for food is evident in each succulent bite, whether you’re eating from a humble street vendor or at a fine-dining restaurant.
Even within Thailand, each region serves up a distinct cuisine. Local food in Koh Samui features fresh produce: Think juicy pineapple, creamy coconut milk, fragrant sweet basil and miniature eggplants. Meat and seafood lovers are also spoilt for choice, with a wide range of meat and seafood on the menu. There is – quite literally – something for every palate.
Koh Samui lies in the South, where the food reflects the land’s ethnic diversity – Thai, Malay, Chinese, Indian and Japanese. Along with this blend of influences, the cuisine draws on the islands’ most popular produce. Coconuts, from the abundant plantations, lend their creamy sweetness and inimitable flavor to local specialties, while cashews impart a nutty crunch and pineapples add succulence.
Tiny bird's eye chilies are a staple in the kitchens, beloved by the residents for their fiery spice. For a true-blue Southern Thai dining experience, try roti (flaky flat wheat bread, fried on a griddle) instead of rice. Thai cuisine doesn’t believe in rigid separation between different tastes. There’s a party happening on your palate.
You’ll easily find your favorite Thai dishes – whether or not they’re originally from Koh Samui. All the tourist staples are on every island menu: green, red, yellow, Massaman and Panang curries, Pad Thai, papaya salad and mango sticky rice. Koh Samui is known to produce the best coconuts in Thailand, so you’ll want to add a fresh coconut to your daily routine.
Whether you wake up wanting fresh vegetables or suddenly need a full roast dinner (a common craving, likely to do with salt deficiency in hot weather), Koh Samui has dozens of options for great ‘global cuisine’.
Make sure you don’t miss out on other Asian cuisines available around Koh Samui. Ranging from Malay, Chinese, Indian to Japanese. For families with kids, most of the restaurants in Koh Samui usually offer a kids’ menu and they sometimes offer discount for kids under 4.
If you have any dietary restrictions, don’t worry, you’ll be able to find plenty of vegetarian and vegan options on Koh Samui or Koh Phangan. The country has such a wealth of fresh produce all year round, and in these tourist hubs eating vegetarian or vegan is a bit of a trend with plenty of restaurants focusing on vegetarian, vegan and raw dishes.
Those who are gluten sensitive should beware of street fried bananas (gluay tot), which contain wheat flour in the batter, as do the famous little Thai coconut pancakes (khan kook). If in doubt, always ask if it contains wheat flour (bang sa-lee).
There are plenty of delicious gluten-free dessert options, like mango with sticky rice (khao nieow mamaung), sticky rice with banana in banana leaves (khao tom mat), banana in coconut milk (gluay but she). When ordering street food, it can be a little bit of a challenge to ask for gluten-free food, but it is available.
As each region in Thailand serves different types of cuisine, don’t forget to try the local cuisine if you are traveling to Koh Samui. It is recommended to try their specialties like Gaeng Gai Baan, which is a southern style spicy curry.
If you don’t like spicy food, there are always other choices like Kalamae, which is a sweet dessert. Here are some dishes that you must try when traveling to Koh Samui:
The dish includes Thai eggplant, cucumbers, and a handful of random leaves. Nam Prik Kapi (shrimp paste dip) is similar to Nam Prik (chili paste dip), but has a little more of a fruity taste to it. You can either eat Nam Prik along with vegetables or add a bit onto your rice as you eat the different curries.
This means literally southern style sour curry. It is the ultimate bigwig of southern Thai comfort, a soup with potent delicious flavor, like a culinary wakeup call – like a bowl of orange juice set on fire. The dish is made with fish and pineapple, so it has a sweetness and sourness from the pineapple, paired with the pungency of fresh chilies and turmeric.
Different from other versions of southern Thai curry, this particular version of Gaeng Gai Baan has an extremely strong black pepper flavor, along with the typically southern Thai curry paste and coconut milk gravy. It is rich in flavors and creamy; the mix between the selected meats (usually chicken) and the flavor of black pepper enhances it even more.
Pla Som is a Thai style preserved fish, and it’s often very sour and salty. Sometimes it’s prepared raw, but when it is deep fried it will have a nice crispy texture. When you eat the deep fried Pla Som Tod, you can eat some of the bones as well, because of its crispyness. Rice is the best accompaniment when eating this dish.
It is a sugary, tasty dessert made from glutinous rice flour, coconut cream and palm sugar. This sweet is a favorite Thai dish and is arguably the Thai version of the French Caramel. A person looking for the Kalamae will find it in high supply at the Hin Yai and Hin Taa daily markets.
Som Tam is a spicy papaya salad made with shredded green papaya, mixed with eggplant, beans, garlic, dried shrimps, crab paste, roasted peanuts, and chili. It has a distinct flavor and is without a doubt one of the most delicious dishes in the world.
Most restaurants serve the Som Tam salad as an appetizer, with raw vegetables and sticky rice. It is a suitable option for entertaining friends and family.
Koh Samui also offers a wide range of drinks. Not only the food has a different style from other regions but the people in Koh Samui also have their own specialty drinks. Coconut is the emblem of this island, it is a must-try if you are there.
Apart from coconut, fruit juice and shakes are also easy to find on Koh Samui. Here are some drinks that you must try if you are in Koh Samui:
In terms of fresh fruit juice, the local shops mainly offer pressed orange juice. Other fruits are consumed, generally, in “shakes”. There are many recipes, but the most popular is the famous “Mixed Fruit Shake”: fresh fruit mixed with crushed ice and cane syrup.
“Banana Shake”, “Mango Shake” and “Water Melon Shake” are also among the most requested. Sometimes Thai people add salt to these “shakes” (an old habit). If you don’t like that, remember to specify ‘without salt’ when you order.
Thai people, being big beer consumers, are spoiled for choice. Local beers are generally excellent and inexpensive. The best known are “Shinga Beer”, “Leo Beer” and “Chang Beer”. They are found everywhere in bottles or cans. But foreign brands are not forgotten.
These drinks are found in abundance in the archipelago of Koh Samui. Often produced by big sports sponsors, they are much appreciated by the Thai people and are supposed to give a boost, as soon as they are consumed, because of their caffeine content.
Koh Samui remains Thailand’s largest coconut producer, with about 2 million coconuts a year. It is not enough to say that this fruit is the emblem of the island; much appreciated by the Thai people and the travelers of all ages, it is very popular in the archipelago (and the Kingdom), as much for its pulp as for its juice.
You can find heaps of restaurants in Koh Samui that tell you that they serve authentic local cuisine; some may be honest, some not. We have done some research and have handpicked this restaurant based on their food, service, location, as well as on the reviews. In order to let every visitor get the best out of Koh Samui in terms of local food and beverages, it is recommended to pay a visit to this restaurant.
This unique restaurant is positioned for the most romantic and exclusive dining. Guests can enjoy the most luxurious setting amongst the tree tops, which is perfect for an occasion to demonstrate one’s love for each other.
You can enjoy a menu that encompasses carefully selected, high quality fresh products, brought together on your plate with all the years of the culinary team’s experience. The menu is complemented with an extensive wine list, which will be carefully explained by a wine guru.
Address: 92/1 Amphoe Ko Samui, Chang Wat Surat Thani 84320, Thailand.
Opening Hours: Every night
First Seating: 6pm – 9pm
Second Seating: 9pm – late
Tel: +66 77 960 333
Plan ahead your next journey to Koh Samui with Asia Highlights and create amazing moments with your loved ones without any hassle. Taste the real local cuisine in our handpicked restaurant. If you have any questions, please send us an inquiry!