When dining out in Costa Rica knowing where to go is important. Let me take the guess work out for you. Nestled on the main strip in Manuel Antonio (Waze) with a menu fueled from inspiration culled from the coasts of Thailand – Samui Thai Restaurant is one you most definitely want to visit. The indoor/outdoor venue features a retro-chic aesthetic, decked out with wooden accents, industrial ceilings and a gorgeous ocean view.
We sipped on a lychee martini with the sweetest subtle fragrance as we looked over the menu. The staff were very friendly and attentive to our every need. After placing our order the appetizers came rolling out… Chicken Satay, Mummy Shrimp (shrimp wrapped in a spring roll pastry with sweet chili sauce), Tom Kha Kai (creamy coconut soup with chicken and mushrooms), Tom Yum Koong (spicy lemongrass soup with shrimp) and lastly the daily special which was Chicken Curry Puffs stuffed with potatoes, chicken and yellow curry. De-li-cious. Next out came the mains, Chicken Pad Thai, Pineapple Fried Rice with Chicken, Wok Basil Beef, Red Curry Chicken and the daily special – Massaman Curry with Beef Short Ribs. We ate to our hearts content. Each dish was delicious and each had a different pallet of flavours that created the perfect balance of salty, sweet, spicy, and savoury. However I must pay tribute to the Wok Basil Beef, as it was absolutely delicious. I think I found my new favourite dish. After all that food, it just wouldn’t be right to pass up dessert. We went for one of each because, well, why not? The Mango Sticky Rice, Fried Ice Cream and Thai Coconut Pudding, each was absolutely delicious.
The Costa Rica Star was lucky enough to snag an interview with owner of Samui Thai – Angie Mapaisarnsin.
CRS-What sparked your interest in cooking?
“I was always helping my mom out in the kitchen when I was young. My mom’s kitchen was my culinary school. I never thought of cooking professionally nor considered myself a chef, I just shared my culture through food to the community we are in”
CRS-You also have a well-known Thai restaurant in Brooklyn, New York. Tell me a little bit about it.
“The restaurant, called Charm Kao, is located in downtown Brooklyn. The menu highlights the famous dishes from 4 regions of Thailand. Only in Bangkok can a gourmand sample this fusion of the best of these four regions, and only at Charm Kao can you do the same right here in Brooklyn.”
CRS-Tell me about your future endeavors for your career?
“I have so many things I am interested in pursuing but for now, my main focus is on making Samui stand out in both authenticity of food as well as provide legendary service here in Costa Rica.”
CRS-If you could change any misconception about Thai cuisine, what would it be?
“It doesn’t always have to be spicy. We have a wide range of dishes that cater to cravings without burning your taste buds. I also want people to be able to differentiate authentic Thai food compared to Thai fusion. Sometimes creativity isn’t the best thing to include in a restaurant when it comes to authenticity.”
CRS-What would you say is the biggest challenge of owning a restaurant here in Costa Rica?
“Sourcing the right ingredients. I still have to bring in a lot of ingredients from New York City. Sometimes you are able to find ingredients here but they are not always kept in stock. This is what challenges us the most.”
CRS-What would you say has been your most positive experience thus far owning a restaurant in Costa Rica?
“The people and the environment. The people here are very nice and being in Manuel Antonio reminds me of being in my hometown, Samui Island in Thailand”
CRS-I know it will be hard to choose based on your incredible menu but if you had to recommend one dish, which would be your favorite and why?
“If I only can choose one, I would have to go with grounded chicken basil with fried egg- extra spicy of course! It is always my choice when I don’t want to think of what to eat.”
CRS-Do you plan to expand to other areas of Costa Rica?
“I am always ready to grab any opportunity when I see one however as for now, we don’t have anything in the pipeline.”
CRS-Since Uber eats has really expanded recently, do you offer, or do you plan to offer delivery service to Manuel Antonio or surrounding areas?
“We already have delivery service offered in Manuel Antonio through Quepos Express. Once Uber eats or any other delivery service comes to Manuel Antonio, we will consider using them too.”
After decades of preparing true Thai dishes in some of New York City’s best Thai kitchens, Angie and her family have brought the bold flavors of her culture to the sunset view hills of Manuel Antonio. I can’t wait to return to Samui for another delicious meal – and don’t you Thai and stop me.