Tuesday, January 5, 2016

'Pla Pla' Beachside Dining on the Gulf of Thailand

Overlooking the powdery sand and blue waters of the Gulf of Siam, white Thai sandstone provides a dramatic contrast to the steel blue and silver, décor that defines Pla Pla’s casual beachside ambience. Translated literally, the name means "many fish" in Thai. To reach the beachside restaurant, guests have to take a precipitous journey on a golf cart from villas high on the hill, and are whisked past flora fantasy of fresh jasmine, frangipani and flamboyant birds of paradise in full bloom. Surrounded with lush tropical greenery and with the sound of the surf in the background, Pla Pla is a hidden gem with its peaked thatched roof pavilion, elegant white and cerulean blue interior and whimsical hanging blue 'fishy' chandelier, silver fish place settings and vibrant purple orchids nestled in local handmade vases. Perched on the edge of the Gulf of Siam, it’s no surprise Pla Pla serves an extensive selection of fish and seafood as well as traditional Thai favourites such as 'Pad Thai Khang' - Wok-Fried Flat Rice Noodles with Samui Rock Lobster, 'Gaeng Kiew Wan Gai' - Thai Green Chicken Curry with eggplant, sweet basil and lime leaves, and sumptuous selection of ceviche such as Sea Bass Ceviche with passion fruit, lime, sweet green mango and coriander. The pièce de résistance — 'Kao Niao Mamuang' - mango with sticky rice and coconut ice cream — a traditional Thai dessert and absolutely delicious!

Overlooking the Four Seasons beach, 'Pla Pla' is the more relaxed and casual of the resort's two restaurants

Looking up to 'Pla Pla' from the beach walkway

With beautiful views overlooking the Gulf of Thailand 

The casually elegant blue and silver grey interior of Pla Pla, which means 'many fish' in Thai

A blue 'fish' chandelier hangs from the bamboo thatched peaked ceiling of Pla Pla

Pla Pla's Thai luncheon menu

Gorgeous purple orchids are on each table

Ice cold Thai Singha beer is the ideal drink on a hot Koh Samui day

A whimsical fish-themed place setting

Hot olive studded bread with tomato salsa 

Sea Bass Ceviche with Passion Fruit, Lime, Sweet Green Mango and Coriander

'Yum Pla Muek' - Thai Spicy Grilled Calamari Salad with lime and toasted cashews

 'Gaeng Kiew Wan Gai' - Thai Green Chicken Curry with eggplant, sweet basil and lime leaves

'Kao Suay' Steamed rice 

'Pad Thai Khang' - Wok-Fried Flat Rice Noodles with Samui Rock Lobster

'Kao Niao Mamuang' - Mango with Sticky Rice and Coconut Ice Cream

A chilled jasmine-scented towel at the end of the meal

Beside Pla Pla is 'The Beach House' and smaller more private beach

A breathtaking view from the beach over the rocks and the Gulf of Thailand

The beach with outdoor thatched bar becomes the backdrop for beach bonfires and tiki torches during seasonal Burger and Seafood Nights at The Beach House

The casual open-air Hamptons-inspired interior of The Beach House

Detail of a mosaic on the buggy waiting area

A precipitous journey by golf cart buggies whisks guests from Pla Pla uphill to each of the Four Seasons private villas

Som Tam Traditional Green Papaya Salad
Serves 2
Recipe courtesy of Four Seasons Koh Samui

100 g green papaya, shredded
2 cloves garlic
3 Bird's eye chilis
1 tbsp dried shrimp
1 tbsp roasted peanuts
1/2 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tbsp palm sugar
2 long beans, cut into 1-inch pieces 
6 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cucumber, peeled and cut into 5 sticks
2 wedges white cabbage
4 5-inch long stems of morning glory

In a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic, chili and long beans until bruised. Add the roasted peanuts and pound until cracked. Add the fish sauce, lime juice and palm sugar to taste, and mix well. Add the shredded papaya and tomato, and continue pounding to bruise all the ingredients to release their flavours. Serve with cucumber sticks, cabbage wedges and morning glory tips, as garnish.