Family friendly beachside dining
With a couple of notable exceptions, Choeng Mon's food scene, at least at the affordable end of the spectrum, tilts towards the bleak or woefully overpriced. If you have your own wheels, we recommend heading elsewhere for meals.
If you're stranded in town, the main drag is lined with Thai and Western restaurants doing toned-down-for-tourists Thai food, Indian and Western dishes. We tried Krua Thai, which true to its slogan of "Where the West meets the East" offers a bit of everything (north and south also covered) from one-plate Thai dishes starting in the 100 to 150 baht range, to steaks priced around 300 to 500 baht and 950 baht for a seafood set for two. Like many of the tourist-focused restaurants in Samui (and Thailand for that matter) in trying to do everything, nothing is fabulous. Staff here are good though.
Just across the road is shophouse-style Akbar Indian Restaurant, a popular North Indian restaurant, which claims to have the best Indian food in Samui. It does a range of set meals for 150 to 300 baht, which are a better deal than individual dishes. We had the chicken tikka with nan and rice along with a cold drink for under 300 baht. Akbar also delivers.
Another off the beach option is Aroma Boutique Cafe found at the eastern end of town, just where the road takes a sharp right (with a lane to the left leading to Honey, Island View and so on). Part cafe, part boutique, it does a comprehensive spread from eggs Benedict for a late breakfast through to Western salads and sandwiches (150 to 200 baht). Thai staples like pad thai and green curry are bolstered by better dishes like salt-encrusted snapper (550 baht) for lunch and dinner. They also have good coffee, tea and wine. For Choeng Mon, prices are reasonable.
On the beach, you have the choice of restaurants attached to the guesthouses and hotels or buying simple snack fare like fresh fruit and barbecue corn off roving beach vendors. The latter is cheap, but the former can be surprisingly expensive. We had an afternoon snack at Honey Seafood Restaurant, arguably the best appointed of the beach restaurants for sunset, but prices were high, with typical fish dishes like deep-fried snapper with chilli sauce going for 550 baht. We stuck with a squid salad, a more sanely priced 200 baht or so. It was good, but do check the prices before eating here. Nearby Kirati and Island View also have their own attached beachside restaurants.
While we didn't try either of them, both Pangaea (Italian food for 300 to 500 baht) and the similarly priced main restaurant at Sala Samui came very highly recommended by expatriate friends living on Samui, so they may be worth investigating for a splurge or special occasion.
For a quiet non-sunset beer and a swing in a hammock, walk all the way around to the far eastern side of Choeng Mon and you'll find Relax Beach Bar, where the drinks are better priced (though do note there is no sunset view from here).
Akbar Indian: (084) 304 2665; (087) 624 8152.
Aroma Daily: T: (093) 612 3258; open daily 09:00-22:00; https://www.facebook.com/Aroma-Boutique-402013026541046/.
Krua Thai: 24/205 Moo 5, Choeng Mon; T: (077) 247 097; https://www.facebook.com/Krua-Thai-Restaurant-965399743486231/.
Honey Seafood Restaurant: T: (077) 245 032.
Sala Samui: T: (077) 245 888; http://salaresorts.com/samui/.
Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.
Our top 10 places to eat and drink around Ko Samui