Samui Wining & Dining
Back With a Bang
After reopening its doors after 3 ½ months reparations,
Zico’s Bar & Grill Brazilian barbecue restaurant is wowing the customers again.


 Back With a BangOur paradise island was badly hit by storms in March this year. The rainy season normally arrives sometime between October and November, and last a few weeks. So when we had a second one in spring, which was heavier than the first, no-one was expecting it. And during a week of continuous high winds and torrential rain, thousands of tourists were stranded on the island and Samui Airport was the scene of thousands trying to get out (as reported on the BBC). The electricity mains were down for much of the time and many people were trapped in their homes, unable to get supplies.


On the Chaweng Beach Road, electrical cables lay snaked in puddles, the road was in darkness at night and scraps of fabric from the many tailors’ small shops lay floating on the water. Many businesses were ruined and most were badly affected. On the beach, trees fell and wooden huts caved in. The water-level on parts of the road rose to almost two metres at one point, rushing in from the beach and the lake to submerge shops and stalls.


This was a shock to almost everyone on Samui, largely because it was so unexpected in the ‘dry’ season. Sheltered in the Gulf of Thailand, the island is generally shielded from much of this type of weather and is generally regarded to be one of the safest places in this part of the world. But during this particular week, with the floods and the lack of electricity, business owners were struggling to keep up.


The Centara Grand Beach Resort Samui, in the most central location at Chaweng Beach and right in the centre of some of the worst flooding, was one of the luckier ones. Water came in to a height of 1.5 metres, but the height of Centara itself kept a lot of the damage minimal. Some staff stayed overnight as they couldn’t get home, whilst others couldn’t get into work and the kitchen was running on candlelight, but, as the general manager says, “It could have been a lot worse.”


Opposite Centara Grand Beach Resort is Zico’s Bar and Grill, an all-you-can-eat Brazilian barbecue restaurant with entertainment by some of the most skilled Brazilian dancers you’ll ever see. Set on Chaweng Beach and not sitting upon high ground, like the resort, Zico’s was hit by the floods and most of its kitchen equipment was destroyed. A lot of the moveable items in the restaurant were removed in time but fixed kitchen equipment was ruined and has since had to be replaced. This meant that the restaurant, one of the most popular dining experiences on Samui, was closed for three and a half months for repairs.


It reopened with a bang having used the time off to renovate the restaurant into being even more tempting than ever. The new-look Zico’s is open seven days a week, with two seating areas with a capacity for over 200 people and serves until 1:00 am. And the menu at is mainly meat-based, with fifteen types of meat and seafood cooked in the ‘show’ kitchen and served up as fresh as it’s possible for food to be. You can pick from peppered beef tenderloin, Australian beef sirloin, New Zealand lamb, beer or pineapple marinated pork, chorizo, spiced duck breast, black tiger prawns, shark steaks ... if it’s meat there’s a good chance it’ll be here. The menu varies as well from day to day so if a particular favourite isn’t offered when you visit, chances are it’ll be there on a later date.


This is all set at a fixed price of only 790 baht a person no matter how much you eat (400 baht per person for just the side orders and salad bar). And, unlike most all-you-can-eat places, Zico’s doesn’t work on a buffet service but instead has waiters coming up at very regular intervals carving meat directly onto your plate. You get a roulette-style disk which is red on one side and green on the other – just leave the green side facing up on your table and the food keeps coming, flip to the red side when you want a break and then back to green when you’re ready to carry on. (It’s a bit of a godsend for those of us who get self-conscious going up to the buffet with our plates for the fourth or fifth time.)


You’ll have to get up to go to the salad bar though as there are around 50 items on offer for you to personally select from. And for sides, you can pick from mashed potatoes, potato gratin, corn polenta, coconut rice, marinated vegetables, assorted breads and more, as well as mop up your meat with Zico’s range of sauces and dips.


If it was just for the food, Zico’s would be well worth visiting. But what makes this restaurant even more enticing is the entertainment, with its two skilled Brazilian dancers putting on a show three times a night, at 8:30, 9:30 and 10:30 pm respectively. Lysa Lince is from Foz de Iguaca and has 12 years’ experience as a professional dancer, as does Danielle do Nascymento from Rio de Janeiro. They’re experts in samba, funk, tango, salsa dancing and more, have worked all over Latin America before coming to Samui, and are on stage every night except Mondays.


Because of all its attractions, Zico’s is a very popular Chaweng restaurant and although walk-ins can almost always be accommodated, it’s best to reserve at table beforehand (especially if you want to be sure of a seat in the limited smoking section or next to the stage).


Lisa Cunningham


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