Beachfront Fine Dining at H-Bistro, Hansar Samui
A lover of good food and wine, I was delighted to uncover a restaurant to tempt and tantalize on the small Thai island of Koh Samui.
Executive Chef Stephen Dion of H-Bistro at Hansar Samui Resort & Spa takes food and wine very seriously. Being dedicated to excellence, he buys special collections of wine from boutique vineyards and ships in the finest ingredients for the gorgeous resort located in the peaceful and delightful Bophut Bay, just a short stroll from Fisherman’s Village.
The excellence of H-Bistro at Hansar Samui and its chef was acknowledged by The New York Times, which ranked it third in the “Top 41 Places to Go in 2011”.
A leader in fine dining on the island, Stephen says: “I have never stopped innovating and learning and continue to do so regularly with the Hansar family, creating competitive menus, providing the highest quality of ingredients from around the world, while ensuring great value and instilling the Hansar philosophy in everything we do.”
-Chef Stephen has created a romantic candlelight six-course dinner menu for two served in an exquisite beachfront cabana
The Canadian executive chef has an impressive background with stints in the famed Les Halles in Quebec under the leadership of Dominic Crovosier, Ma Maison Restaurant at the Hilton Nai Lert Park in Bangkok as Chef de Cuisine and five years at the Lebua at State Tower Bangkok, where he became Executive Chef. In the midst of all this, though, came a career turning point with his appointment as Private Chef to His Majesty the King of Jordan, leading him to spend two years catering for the royal family and many high profile dignitaries and royalty.
“I have never stopped innovating and learning and continue to do so regularly with the Hansar family, creating competitive menus, providing the highest quality of ingredients from around the world, while ensuring great value and instilling the Hansar philosophy in everything we do.”
Stephen’s love for Thailand saw his eventual return, where in late 2009 he joined Hansar Samui to set up H-Bistro and develop its blend of French Mediterranean and authentic Thai cuisine, oversee the culinary team and deliver epicurean excellence across all the menus.
H-Bistro, the resort’s beachside restaurant, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner; cocktails, carefully selected wines, champagne and beer can be sampled at the Chill Lounge, where you can watch the sun slide below the horizon from huge opium beds; while bar snacks and drinks are served at the beach bar and on the beach, where beanbags are set out to fully take in the relaxing atmosphere.
The lunch menu is filled with tantalizing delights, of which my favourites were the beautifully presented and absolutely divine Pla Goong – a plate of succulent prawns and sweet, meaty Hokkaido scallops sitting atop chilli paste and lemon grass; and the rich, flavoursome open-faced soft rolls with minced lamb bites, placed on creamed spinach and Pommery mustard, with a generous serving of caramelized onions and melted goat cheese crowning the marvellous meal. I also took advantage of being in Thailand to savour the mango with sticky rice, coconut ice-cream and coconut sauce, an exquisite taste and texture sensation at its best on the island.
However, it is in the evening that Chef Stephen pulls out the stops to tempt guests with fine dining.
Highlights have to include the spectacular Chef’s Table, where 8-20 diners feast around an exquisite 6.3m hand-made table of solid golden teak on a sumptuous array of delicacies, such as Foie Gras from the Soulard farm in France’s Perigord region, Maine Lobsters freshly flown in from Canada, Japan and France, Atlantic deep-sea red prawns caught at a depth of 2,000 meters, the highly prized and wonderfully funky Ibierico pork, the much sought-after Bresse royal pigeon featured on many top 3-star Michelin star chefs’ menus, and Gillardeau French “speciales” oysters from a family company founded in 1898 in Bourcefranc-le-Chapus near La Rochelle in western France.
Such is the romance of the setting at Hansar Samui, many eager suitors have chosen it as the place for that life-changing moment, the marriage proposal. Often in on the plan, the culinary team rises to the occasion and ensures a memorable dining experience. To honour these special moments, Chef Stephen has created a romantic candlelight six-course dinner menu for two served in an exquisite beachfront cabana.
Another highlight, and my personal favourite, is the specially curated wine-paired dinners designed to indulge and tantalize all the senses.
The simple textures and flavours Stephen prefers belie the skill with which he incorporates the finest ingredients into his dishes, while the wines are handpicked from boutique wineries, reflecting the resort’s commitment to creating a truly hedonistic dining experience.
The six-course paired dinner was a visual feast, with intriguing taste combinations in superbly created dishes, including the chilled green peas emulsion to set off the seared Hokkaido scallop with black summer truffle caviar pearls and white truffle balsamic essence – a delectable meaty sweetness tinged with a slight tanginess and crunch. Paired with the 2011 Babor Sauvignon Blanc from the Odfjell Vineyard’s Valle Central in Chile, I was in heaven.
Another highlight was the Slow Cooked Dutch Veal with Spiced Red Cipollini Onion, Chimichurri, Eggplants, Marjoram, Penja Black Pepper with Bordelaise Sauce, simply a divinely tempting combination with the perfect foil of the superbly deep dark berries of the 2010 South Australian Norwood Shiraz Cabernet. The closing 2009 Mountain Wine from Malaga was a delectable dream ideally suited to the strawberry bomb with its praline and white balsamic strawberry essence.
While Hansar Samui is the perfect resort for a touch of indulgent R&R, it is fabulous for an epicurean break. Served with impeccable style by the courteous staff, my paired wine dinner was an evening to remember at the wonderful H-Bistro.
2011 Babor Sauvignon Blanc from the Odfjell Vineyard, Chile
Rich aromas of green apples, pears and pineapple dominate the nose, while in the mouth it is juicy and fresh with notes of citrus.
Chilled Green Peas Emulsion, seared Hokkaido Scallop with Black Summer Truffle Caviar Pearls and White Truffle Balsamic Essence.
2012 Rocky Gully Riesling, Frankland Estate, Western Australia
A light front palate that builds with generous citrus fruit. Crisp, refreshing acidity, spicy chalkiness giving weight and a long, complex finish.
Seared French Foie Gras – Norwegian Scampi, Marcona Almonds, Duck, Passion Fruit, Pedro Ximénez Sherry Reduction
Mission Red Wine Cuvée, Frankland Estate, Western Australia
A special blend with spicy red berry notes, soft and approachable. Smooth and soft on the palate with delicate tannins to give structure and length.
Seared Bresse Baby Chicken, Risotto a la Carbonara, Parmesan Reggiano Foam
2009 MR Mountain Wine, Telmo Rodriguez, Malaga
A rare, special wine from Malaga, Spain. Vines 900 metres above sea level on steep, schist slopes produce fruit of great purity, acidity and minerality for a delightful desert wine.
Strawberry Bomb, a Gianduja Praline Mousse, Cocoa Tuile, White Balsamic Strawberry Essence
2010 Norwood Shiraz Cabernet, Salomon Estate, South Australia
Dark purple with aromas of blackberry liqueur and liquorice and good depth with a hint of tangy acidity.
Slow Cooked Dutch Veal, Spiced Red Cipollini Onion, Chimichurri, Eggplants, Marjoram, Penja Black Pepper with Bordelaise Sauce.
2011 Chardonnay 234, ENATE Winery, DO Somontano, Spain.
Intense Chardonnay bouquet of apple, peach, fennel and exotic fruit (guava, passion fruit) with a discrete mineral background. On the palate the wine is complex with rich mouth filling fruit and a long crisp clean finish.
Seared Mediterranean Sea Bass, Artichoke Poivrade, Salsify, Patisson, Pickled Ginger Jus