When worlds collide: Hua Thanon’s French-Thai fusion restaurant
The sleepy village known as Hua Thanon provides a glimpse—if only for a brief moment—into what life once was like for local Thai people before the influx of mass tourism. However, even this off-the-beaten-track enclave has been receiving some modern, Western-style flourishes as of late.
If hunger strikes while visiting this predominantly Muslim out-of-the-way outpost, go past the Chinese hanging lanterns, further than the fisherman’s kor lae boats, but before the tiger zoo—that’s another story—and you’ll stumble upon a French Thai fusion restaurant, aptly named Vitamin Sea.
Dark polished wood contrasts against the turquoise wall paint, and a kitsch water feature oozes instant charm. Lulling hungry guests along a small winding path, it leads to an intimate setting awash with a refreshing sea breeze—a welcome accompaniment after a long day in the Samui sun. The restaurant overlooks the beach where guests are invited to take a post-dinner walk along the sand. Long wooden benches sit conveniently close to the bar, ideal for group dinners and sophisticated drinks towards the end of a trip, and the upper floor boasts resplendent views out to sea.
Owned and managed by Belgian native Luc Vervaeke, the restaurant carves out authentic dishes courtesy of Chef Walh Wa. Raw shrimp carpaccio, French Bourgogne snails, and red tuna tartare comprised of home-grown fresh herbs and vegetables provide just a miniscule glimpse of the culinary experience to be had here. Fiercely passionate about his food, Luc can often be found mingling with guests. A true culinary connoisseur, he welcomes and educates all those who walk into his restaurant and provides an excellent service. His wife also works on-site to ensure authentic Thai food is ate by those that dine here. In short, it’s a true fusion establishment.
Regarded by locals as one of the most audacious French restaurants on the island—and there are many—the food truly is as good as it looks. Vibrant hues of orange and purple dressings, fresh pink shrimp, and luminous green leaves decorate the plates in clever constructions. Above the average price point of other restaurants in the area, the food is almost, but not quite, too good to eat. The Croquettes Maison aux Trois Fromages (B240 for two, B360 for three), homemade croquettes with a trio of French cheeses, also available in seafood and serrano ham, are new to the menu. Another recent addition is the Cold Smoked Duck Breast Salad (B240) with exotic tartar sauce.
A fine dining experience in the heart of a humble village, Vitamin Sea does nothing short of impress tourists and locals alike. Playing on every one of the senses, the restaurant displays a fervor that runs through the heart of Luc and his family, and onto the plates of his guests. And who doesn’t need a dose of ‘Vitamin Sea’ once in a while?
By Savannah Liu