Samui Wining & Dining
Authentic Thai cuisine at Nora Buri’s signature restaurant: Rice Barge & Terrace

Authentic Thai cuisine at Nora Buri’s signature restaurant: Rice Barge & TerraceBack in Europe, Thai food tastes different. Restaurants there either don’t use the same ingredients, or they ‘tone it down’ to the way they think their customers want it. And the same thing happens here – just about every restaurant you try seems to make their food a different way. Plus the fact that there are four different sorts of Thai cuisine anyway, depending on the region. It can all get a bit confusing . . . unless you go to ‘Rice Barge & Terrace’, that is.


Rice Barge & Terrace is the flagship restaurant of the Nora Buri Resort & Spa, located just a few minutes’ drive north of the main body of Chaweng, towards neighbouring Choeng Mon. One way or the other, you simply have to spend a little time here. The building itself is a Samui landmark, and is simply outstanding.


Entirely constructed from teak, it’s a three-floor building with four cascading roofs, tiered on three levels down the hillside, and surrealistically shaped to symbolise a giant wooden sailing barge. In fact there are three restaurants here, not one. At sea level is ‘The Barge Restaurant’, serving quality International and Thai dishes. Then there’s another floor for private functions. And right at the top, with a superb sea view, is Rice Barge & Terrace.


The layout of Rice Barge is fascinating, comprising of one self-contained interior room, with the outward-facing walls being floor-to-ceiling glass. As with everything here, the theme of dark, rich wood dominates: the floors and ceiling are of sculpted timber, with massive wood pillars in the corners, and sturdy, modern furniture to match. The design is clever; you step down into a number of ‘wells’ in the floor, arranged with deep cushions around the edge and Thai triangular backrests (known as ‘mon Thai’), and with a broadAuthentic Thai cuisine at Nora Buri’s signature restaurant: Rice Barge & Terrace table in the middle of each.


The cuisine here is as classy as the layout and décor would suggest – in fact this is essentially fine-dining, Thai-style. There are featured dishes from all four regions. The menu is divided into all the usual sections, starters, soups, noodle dishes, stir-fries and curries, but with all the ingredients being top quality and imported (the beef from Australia) – something you’ll appreciate if you’ve ever sampled the low-grade market meats bought-in by some small Thai eateries on the street. There is, of course, a big section featuring seafood. But everybody’s all-time favourite is the ‘khantoke’ set.


Originating in the Northern Region of Thailand, khantoke is a series of different dishes, each in its own small platter, arranged on a tray. In this case you’ll be treated to a selection of two offerings from the Northern Region, two from the North East, two from the South and one from the Central Plain. The presentation is exquisite, reminiscent of the elaborate designs and painstaking attention to detail of Royal Cuisine, with the plates and dishes being elaborately enamelled and inlaid with gold.


There are also regular ‘specials’ which appear now and then, such as the exceptional ‘Candlelight Set Menu’, of which there are two options, one starring Australian beef and the other, Phuket lobster. There are not many restaurants which offer specialised Thai cuisine in a superb setting like this, and Rice Barge & Terrace really should be on everyone’s dining listAuthentic Thai cuisine at Nora Buri’s signature restaurant: Rice Barge & Terrace – especially for that special ‘last night’ meal before leaving for home!


But that’s not all. Down on the ground floor, right next to the edge of the beach, there are other enticements. The restaurant here is open all day and into the evening, so this is the perfect alternative if you fancy getting stuck into something a bit more cosmopolitan, such as the Chef’s Signature Set, featuring Australian Beef Tenderloin with Garlic Mash, Dried Tomatoes, Green Vegetables and Red Wine Sauce.


Or you could choose between the Seafood Set Menu for Two, including Duck Salad, Smoked Chicken Cream Soup and a Lobster and Seafood Basket (served with Fried Rice on Pineapple). Or even indulge in the Classic Steak Set Menu for Two – Red Tuna Salad (including green oak lettuce with black olives, cherry tomatoes, green beans and Italian dressing), Pumpkin Soup, then on to a tray with beef tenderloin, lamb chop, pork chop, duck breast and chicken breast (served with sautéed vegetables, garlic mash and corn on the cob). Plus dessert. Or even better still, try the ‘Land & Sea’: a combination of lobster, seafood and steak, which includes salad, soup, and dessert.


Whichever way you want to go, Eastern or Western, the fare here at The Barge is exceptional, and ‘classic’ in every sense!


Rob De Wet


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