During our time in Bangrak, Koh Samui we found ourselves returning time and time again to a small local restaurant called Shambala. It was unfortunately closed for our last evening on the island, as they were catering for a wedding.
With our first choice out the window, we began discussing our dinner options. By chance, we happened upon a selection of free magazines and guides, one of which was the Samui Dining Guide (see www.siamdiningguide.com). After perusing the guide whilst catching our final few rays of sunshine in Thailand, my partner noticed a few restaurants that were quite close to our hotel. We read the impressive Ocean 11 review, but were sold by the quote “The Sunday Times, the New York Times and Lonely Planet are pretty big names. And when you hear of a place on Samui that’s recommend by all of them, you’ve got to sit up and take note.”
Ocean 11 was in such close proximity to our hotel that we popped in to book a table for later the same evening. We reserved a quiet table at the far end of the restaurant, on the front line, overlooking Bangrak beach.
With soft lighting, a decorative waterfall and small pond either side of the walkway into the restaurant, Ocean 11′s entrance sets a wonderful tone. The restaurant looked beautiful, with romantic lighting and small candles on each table. We were shown to our table, I was seated by the waitress whom also placed my napkin on my lap and passed us the menus. We were not stood over, nor did we feel harassed, it was a wonderful first impression.
We ordered a glass of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon and an iced lime soda whilst we looked at the menu. A rather expensive menu at that. Moments later, a waitress brought over fresh warm bread with tuna mayonnaise and green pesto dips. A lovely addition and great to munch on whilst browsing through the menu.
Ocean 11′s comprehensive menu caters for most tastes, with western, Thai and fusion dishes alongside nightly fish specials. Some of the prices did surprise us – at around 900 Baht for a steak, the menu was very expensive by Thai standards. Eventually we settled on starters of tempura-style soft shell crab served on a bed of leaves with a tomato and mango salsa and home-made Asian filled tortellini served in a creamy white wine sauce. To follow, we chose Green Chicken Curry and a spicy beef Gaeng Phed Hua Ya, both served with rice. It seemed somehow inappropriate not to choose Thai food for our last meal in Thailand.
My partners crab salad was presented beautifully, but was lacking in flavour. The tempura-style batter, along with the crab had little or no seasoning and the salsa was simply tomato and mango chunks. My tortellini had far more depth, but had no discernible Asian flavour with its thick creamy sauce. The pasta was well-cooked, but didn’t bowl me over. It was a good starter, but so far, nothing to put Ocean 11 on the map….
Our main courses arrived steaming hot, served in earthenware pots, along with two smaller portions of rice. The green curry was very average at best, we had both eaten plenty in Thailand and this was nowhere near the best. With little kaffir lime, galangal or Thai basil to add that wonderful depth associated with Thai food, it was rather disappointing, given our expectations. My gaeng phed hua ya, consisted of crunchy fresh vegetables including the signature fresh small plum tomatoes of the dish, beef pieces and a flavoursome red Thai curry-style sauce. Although not red in colour, the flavours matched those in a red Thai curry with notes of hot red chilli pepper, cumin, galangal combined with smooth coconut milk. This was much tastier than my partner’s green curry, but again for the price, I wanted to be wowed.
Our dining experience cannot be knocked, as the staff, location and ambience of Ocean 11 were superb. The service was, by far, the best we had received in Thailand with little details such as having your chair pulled out for you and being handed cool lemon hand towels at the end of your meal. As great as these additional factors are, and important to the experience as a whole, the food was very overpriced and under-flavoured. We have enjoyed Thai curries with twice the flavour for less than a fifth of the price. Upon requesting the bill we found that we had been over-charged, for a second glass of the mediocre Cabernet Sauvignon, that I had neither ordered, nor consumed.
The Samui Dining Guide was misleading and certainly not without bias (given each restaurant in it has probably paid for the privilege of being included). If you have money to burn, book a table at Ocean 11. If you want good food at a great price – try Shambala Restaurant just five minutes down the road past the Irish bar. Granted, the surroundings aren’t anything special, but their lime sodas were around 40 THB rather than Ocean 11′s 120 baht and every dish we ordered during our five separate visits was amazing.
Our experience at Ocean 11 simply re-iterated advice we had been given “in Thailand, the more you pay… the worse the food”.
Ocean 11 percentage return rate review on Trip Advisor 80%
Shambala percentage return rate review on Trip Advisor 96%
Bill from Ocean 11 Restaurant, Bophut, Koh Samui, Thailand
2nd March 2013
- Soft Shell Crab 360 THB
- Asian Tortellini 360 THB
- Chicken Gaeng Phed Nua Ya 460 THB
- Chicken Green Curry 420 THB
- Lemon Soda (x2) 240 THB
- Paso Cabernet Sauvignon 180 THB
Ocean 11 Restaurant and Residence
23 Moo 4,
Bangrak, Bo phut,
+(66) 77 24 5134 +(66) 89 123 2364