A tribute to the ocean’s bounty and inspired by the wispiness of the island life, Pla Pla (meaning “fish” in Thai) at Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui presents an all-new menu, highlighted by “0 kilometre” seafood and premium cuts of meat.
“The southern coast of Thailand is dotted with small hamlets, where the locals make a living on the riches of the ocean and their farmlands,” explains Ivo Benidio, the restaurant’s Chef de Cuisine, whose love for seafood is firmly rooted in his Portuguese upbringing. “Nothing that makes me happier than supporting the locals by using the ingredients that make their livelihood!”
“We are 20 metres away from the sea”
Located on the beach, with sweeping views of the Gulf of Thailand, Pla Pla’s Thai sandstone walls and floors provide a dramatic contrast to the steel-blue and silver décor that defines the restaurant’s ambience.
“It is the perfect setting for a beachside lunch or dinner, where you can taking it all in,” shares Ivo.
“Certified, premium meat is our promise”
Ivo’s goals while curating the new menu at Pla Pla were to evaluate the nutritional value of the food, the environmental impact, and maximum use of organic produce. While the seafood is sourced locally, Ivo focuses on bringing the best cuts of meat from across the region.
“We have to have the best of what we can get. For example, grass fed beef, Australian lamb rack, free-range chicken from Chiang Mai and Iberco pork from Spain – all from the certified suppliers,” adds Ivo.
“Our coconuts are grown in the Resort”
Koh Samui is known as “coconut island” and the Resort itself is nestled in an orchard of 856 coconut trees, tended to by a team of 40 gardeners, who handpick coconuts used in the signature coconut risotto on the menu.
“My Italian Executive Chef Renato Rizzi and Director of Food and Beverage Simone Cerea were quite suspicious when I suggested a coconut based risotto,” smiles Ivo, “But I think it turned out alright, infused with a perfect flavours of the island – coconuts and lobster!”
In addition to coconuts, the flowers and cress used in the garnishes are also grown in the Resort.
“Most of the produce is organic, including butter”
At dinnertime, the restaurant is engulfed in a tempting aroma of Isigny PDO (Protected Denomination of Origin) butter, exclusively made from the milk of Isigny terroir, reared by the ocean where the pastures are full of mineral salts and trace elements.
“This natural bounty can be found in the milk of this terroir, which add an unmistakable aroma, suppleness and colour, giving every dish at Pla Pla a unique texture and taste,” says the chef, sharing his trade secrets.
“The menu takes you on a spice trail”
From coriander to turmeric, and Jamaican berries and cumin, the menu highlights spices and influences from around the world.
“We use juniper berries to give the beef reduction a berry flavour while the chicken piri piri is a combination of smoked paprika, bay leaf, whiskey and chillies. You’ll find the definitive flavour of five spice in the suckling pig roast!”
“We use modern and traditional cooking techniques”
Using a combination of techniques, Ivo’s menu is a culmination of experiences from his years of training across the world, in the kitchens of master chefs and Michelin-starred restaurants. While the 72-hour slow-cooked short rib is cooked sous vide to preserve the juiciness of the meat, the blue crab salad add freshness with pomegranate, Peruvian avocado causa (puree), finger lime and osetra caviar.
“My favourite, though, is one from my childhood,” smiles Ivo, “It’s the clay pot cod fish that was made by my grandma. Cod fish, or bacalhau as we call it back home, is one of, if not the main ingredients in Portuguese cuisine. Grandma would cook the whole fish for a family lunch. The aroma that wafts through the room when the clay pot opens takes me right back to those memorable meals with her. The secret of this dish is to ensure the balance of saltiness of the cod fish with the rest of the ingredients – it has to be au point, and of course, cooked with love – a lot of love!”
Pla Pla is open for lunch on all days and dinner on Monday and Wednesday-Saturday.