Samui Wining & Dining
RockPool wows with an entirely different vibe.

RockPool wows with an entirely different vibe.Delicious times and treats come in spades on Samui. Vacationers never get bored, and places to go number the hundreds. Yet just occasionally, something very different is called for. Something that may widen the eyes and fire up those sun-spavined neural pathways. If it’s time to look for a venue that’s highly original and exudes pizzazz, then RockPool at Kanda Pool Villas is a preferred place to go for islanders and repeat holidaymakers. None of it is showy; nothing is samey and predictable. Instead, exactly like the food, it’s brimming over with vibrancy.


So what makes it stand out? Don’t think to judge it from the road. You might even miss it. Both the resort and the restaurant are hidden away. Getting to RockPool is an adventure in itself: a golf cart descent from the atrium, down winding lanes and then finally the restaurant itself – set apart from everything else. No rackety neighbours. It stands in pride of place, fronting the beach. But it’s not the usual tropical beach either. Think rocks, waves, big skies – this is primal ocean territory, a wilder Samui.


RockPool is energizing, and you can see the guests love it; nobody is wilting at their tables waiting for a placid seascape to finally change. Breezes cool everything down, the dining room is open-sided, and a handful of wooden decks get you closer to that sea view. RockPool has a bold setting, but is never brash with it – the entire place oozes sophistication. RockPool wows with an entirely different vibe.People love to come here to relax and socialize – it attracts romantic couples as well as groups, all sorts of people, who find this a haven of great tasting food. Throwing open its doors at 7:00 am and closing at 10:00 pm means that people come for breakfast till late, late suppers and of course anything in-between. The long list includes brunch, lunch, drinks of all kinds – from coffee to cocktails – afternoon tea, various snacks, and of course, dinner. It’s all honest food too, without any unnecessary impulse to dazzle. Eating it makes you glad to be there, and you can’t help but look forward to each course. Time to linger? Definitely. It’s hard to leave even when you’ve had your fill.


RockPool has had a long history of maestro chefs, each of whom has added to the popularity of the restaurant. The current chef, Lisa Lang, is expanding the parameters of the cuisine. The results are overwhelming – accolades abound, and they’re entirely justified. Lisa was quickly snapped up as both executive chef and food & beverage manager. It takes inordinate amounts of energy to do both jobs at the same time – which is why, almost invariably, there are two different people doing them. No mean feat and what would be a breakneck ride for most people for her is a task she seems to pull off almost effortlessly, lighting up her guests’ taste buds so that they come back for more. Originally from South Africa, she left her native Cape Town to come to Asia, and is in her eighth year on Samui. She’s long since mastered Thai and Asian cuisine. Just try her Massaman Kae, an Indian style curry with lamb loin and coconut milk with a sweet potato puree and crumbled peanuts. You’ll be won over.


Lisa presents international dishes with equal aplomb, though often with her own inventive takes. Thanks to her, RockPool is ever more a crucial part of Samui’s intense social scene and is definitely a convivial place to be.


Generally, the menu has a Mediterranean feel to it, but there’s a plethora of Thai food too. So you can feast on pizza and pasta for lunch, enjoy a prime steak for dinner but equally opt for an authentic Thai experience. In addition you’ll find this is one of the finest places on the island to enjoy seafood, though meats seem to be just as much in vogue. Everything tempts. Lisa imports Fine de Claire oysters and also offers clams, squid and fresh caught fish from local waters. RockPool wows with an entirely different vibe.Then there’s a Lobster Seafood Set, many people’s favourite. Try Lisa’s Wagyu Beef burger, New Zealand Lamb Rack or Australian Grass-Fed Tenderloin. In addition, check out the pizza oven that’s installed on a lower deck. It’s the real thing, and turns out amazingly good food. Tastes are just like in Italy, in other words. For light bites try the tapas, shared plates ideal for convivial snacking, allowing you to chat and forget all notions of time.


Come for Sunday lunch and enjoy Lisa’s long line-up of great foods. Children love to be here too. They get their very own menu and can use the pool close by. It’s something that families look forward to, and return to whenever they can.


The staff all help you get the most out of dining at RockPool; they’ll be happy to help if you have food allergies or other issues. The menu is clearly labelled when it comes to gluten-free and vegetarian fare, by the way.


Drinks of all kinds abound and there’s a great wine list that goes extremely well with the food. RockPool has a generous ‘happy hour’ from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm every day. Buy one get one free when it comes to cocktails, house wine and local beers. Lots of guests turn up just for a drink and to watch the sun set. It’s the perfect place for any kind of social gathering or for a couple to spend a romantic time together. Others come for corporate events, a birthday party or even a wedding reception. Lisa and her team love to cater for any kind of event you can think up. Last but not least, lucky you if you’re a Samui resident, as you receive a whopping 15% discount on food and drink here.


Drink and dine above the waves in the unique setting that RockPool provides. With dining opportunities that are guaranteed to satisfy, RockPool is one of the most compelling presences in today’s island dining scene.


Dimitri Waring


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