Introduction (because I forgot to do this in the earlier Samui post!) :
Koh Samui is an island found on the east coast of the Kra isthmus (bit of land joining Thailand and Malaysia). It’s Thailand’s third largest island after Phuket and Koh Chang famed for its “unspoilt” beaches (although tourist activity in recent years has caused me to question this), the infamous Full Moon parties in nearby island Koh Phangan, watersports in the Ang Thong National Marine Park, and scuba diving in the less commercial island of Koh Tao.
I spent a few days here exploring three out of Koh Samui’s seven areas: Bo Phut– where I came across the wonderful Happy Elephant Café, Mae Nam (where I stayed) and Chaweng.
So, Chaweng is basically the heart of Samui where there is an abundance of restaurants serving food from Germany, Brazil, Italy, France, and of course Thailand. It’s pretty lively by day and night, and you’ll run into several tourists looking for a bite to eat or bargaining for a novelty T-shirt at one of its many market stalls.
Bo Phut is an area on the North-West of Samui that’s much quieter than Chaweng with a lot of restaurants and bars…
Mae Nam beach is much more relaxed and has a lot of resorts and spas… so the beach is mainly used for swimming and sunbathing.
Food is very reasonable at most places and you can feed four people for about 600 baht..(12 POUNDS!) assume about 800 if your group plans on having a drink or two… I’d recommend trying Chang Beer – it’s locally made and quite light… for the morning after, restaurants stock plenty of coconut water- so you can stay nice and hydrated! 😉
Now… onto the restaurant that you must visit when you’re in the Northern area… Hot Bread Shop Bakery!
It’s a bakery and a fantastic restaurant that’s open daily till late. Located on Nathon Beach Road, this little restaurant serves all kinds of food but in all honesty- why would you have a burger when you can have their incredibly priced, locally sustained Thai fare ?!!
Now in terms of atmosphere, it’s located on the main road, so there are vans circulating every 15 minutes or so loudly promoting local Muay Thai fights with the all too familiar song, Eye of the Tiger…. can be a little offputting but for the quality of food this restaurant serves it’s all part of the fun, and totally worth it! They have a small television screening Muay Thai fights live, to entertain you while you wait for your food and eat!
– Green Curry a.k.a Gaeng Kiew Wan (meaning sweet green curry.. although not necessarily sweet 😛 )
– Stir fried Kang Kong (a local green leaf with a sweet flavour and moreish crunch) in a simple garlic and oyster sauce
– Pad Thai with prawns and another portion with chicken (the plate at the front is chicken)
–> We actually visited here twice and ordered their Som Tam with prawns along with the above order. They were in abundance, so fresh and juicy so I’d recommend you order one of those if you can too!!
Their green curry was not over spiced or too thick, it was mellow- the way it should be. The paste from which it was made contained the perfect balance of galangal (thai ginger), lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, shallots, green chillies, garlic, and salty shrimp paste. It was garnished with fresh red chilli and lots of fresh green basil leaves.
The Kang Kong was so fresh and crunchy. The garlic and red chilli worked hand in hand to add flashes of heat to the sweet leaf and were perfectly balanced in their salty swimming pool.
The pad thai DID NOT CONTAIN KETCHUP- HOORAY! So many tourist-y restaurants in Thailand (would you believe?!) and abroad put ketchup in their noodles. URGH ! WRONG! But I digress… these pad thai noodles were full of fresh bean sprouts- not the insipid, unappetising bruised specimens you pick out and put to the side of your plate at your local purveyor of thai food- green beans with so much flavour, juicy prawns and chicken and freshly sliced tomatoes. They were served with crushed peanuts, a wedge of lemon and crushed red chilli if you wanted a little more heat… their noodles were cooked perfectly, not greasy, or starchy so you know, despite its humble facade, this restaurant meant business.
High quality, fresh ingredients are an easy indicator of authentic fare, and you can always tell a good restaurant by the dishes being eaten by their customers…. always have a peep in while you’re exploring where to eat, proprietors welcome this behaviour and this means you won’t be far from sniffing out a good meal to re fuel for the next day’s shenanigans…
The bottom line:
Hot Bread Shop Bakery was an oasis of good service, excellent food, among several mediocre imitators…
Taste – 5/5
Value for money – 5/5
Service – 5/5
Atmosphere- 3/5 (but because of the food I’ll bump it up to 4!)
Getting pumped up for your meal courtesy of the Muay Thai megaphone cars – 5/5 😉