[Travelogue] Zazen Ko Samui…Seriously Romantic Fine Dining by the Water’s Edge

IMG_5642Tucked away behind the dusty, busy main street of Bophut sits Zazen Boutique Resort & Spa…Drive through a long canopy of green bamboo with overhanging fauna into Samui’s hidden Eden of wooden bridges, water features, tall swaying coconut trees and the sounds of nature. You feel like you’ve left crazy Thailand behind and entered her alternate dimension! IMG_5541We walked through the luscious gardens, over bridges and around ponds, with the sounds of bullfrogs orchestrating our every step into the beautiful Zazen restaurant. We were blessed with terrific cool weather this evening thanks to the afternoon showers, otherwise Samui can be unbearably humid. IMG_5542We were seated by the edge of the restaurant, overlooking the quiet beach dimly lit by just the moonlight. It was very, very pleasant. This is fine dining in a most romantic way, never mind the food (yet). The decor feels part Mediterranean and part Thai, with candles serving most of the lighting in this high ceiling open air restaurant. Service is impeccable.IMG_5559Soft Jazz music plays in the background and live traditional Thai music and dance entertainment happen at intervals. No… not one of those overwhelming festive Loi Krathong music, but soothing elegant acoustic ones.IMG_5550The menu is a mix of European and Thai cuisine with a degustation menu for the undecided.

We began the evening with some signature cocktails. These were typical tropically sweet concoctions. Easy on the palate and refreshing on a hot summer’s night.IMG_5563Shortly upon placing our orders, we were presented with an amuse-bouche of Minced Chicken Ball. The firm meat ball was packed with a robust lemongrass/ basil aroma. A little dry probably from sitting out a wee bit long. Perhaps a teeny drizzle of sauce of some kind may help…IMG_5582The Lobster Bisque was a sweet, rich broth that’s delicately creamy with strong flavors of white wine and seafood. And though I would have enjoyed some lobster meat for bite, the thick soup lacked neither taste nor aroma of the crustacean. IMG_5579Country Side was a platter of rabbit and pork rilletts, pâté de campagne, gherkins and fresh bread. I am a big fan of rillettes and Zazen’s were wonderful. The flavors were perfect, the texture was perfect… Teamed with fresh warm bread, every mouthful was such delight, I barely bothered with the rest but I recall the pâté wasn’t too bad!   IMG_5584.JPGJust before the mains were served, everyone received a palate cleanser of sweet Papaya sorbet. Wow! This could very well be dessert! The home-made sorbet was deliciously refreshing. Sweet, icy with just a slight zing to it. IMG_5632I always find it hard to pass up beef cheeks, so Al’Ancienne from the Earth Main Course menu was a natural choice for me. The braised cheeks were very tender and flavorful but unfortunately a tad too dry. A spoonful more of the braise jus may affect asthetics, but would surely improve taste and texture.IMG_5585Best of Samui- This promises the freshest seafood Samui has to offer served with white sauce, grilled vegetables and squid ink tagliatelle. Unfortunately, only the fish and prawns were acceptably better grilled. The squid and lobster claw were overcooked, therefore, tough, dry and chewy. The squid ink tagliatelle was undercooked and needed flavor desperately. The grilled vegetables were, well.. grilled vegetables… What helped made the dish a little more palatable was the wonderfully creamy, tangy, appetizing béarnaise sauce. This sidekick made everything a little better.IMG_5635What stole the show this evening was the dessert! Undecided which of the many choices to order, we concluded with the  Chef’s Discovery Symphony. It did say, “A must to be considered” and so we did. This platter of 10 mini desserts meant for 2 was good for 6! There were mousses and cream caramels in different exotic flavors. Delicate French macaroons, twisted Tiramisu, deconstructed Thai sticky rice with mango, old school Thai cakes and pastries and the star of the show, home made ice cream encased in a crystal sugar cube vaguely resembling the flaming chariot of Hunger Games! Accompanied by miniature glass bottles of essences and fruit purees to further enhance the bitter dark chocolate, and dense sponge cake. This beautiful platter was the perfect end to this perfect, romantic setting. Next time I return, it’d be dessert on the Zazen private beach in a pre-booked sala. Oh well… and maybe an order of that gorgeous rabbit rillette too 😉

The only dessert you’ll want!
Great texture and smooth consistency in the rabbit and pork rillettes.
Sweet diced mango atop soft fragrant sticky glutinous rice.
Just ice cream and sugar but what a work of art!

Zazen Restaurant @ 177 Moo 1,Bophut Beach, Koh Samui, Tambon Bophut, 84310, Thailand   Phone +66 77 430 345

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