The Chill in Kai Bae Beach has been open a few years now, one of the new breed of sharply designed Koh Chang resorts, with sleek uncluttered rooms opening out onto a feature length swimming pool. The larger Awa Resort, the latest addition and very similar in tone, sits next door on one side and the Gajapuri Resort, natural style villas in lush tropical gardens, is its neighbour on the other. Between them, they give Kai Bae Beach a fresh dimension, not only as a high-end alternative from the mid range accommodation and bungalows for which it is known, but also for dining out, with their upmarket in-house restaurants open to both residents and outside guests.
A birthday within the gang seemed a good enough reason to try one of these restaurants and Birthday Boy picked The Chill for dinner, having taken a shine to the place through his nightly nip-ins and nip outs for their happy hour cocktails down by the sea. The Chill-out Cafe is at the far end of the resort, with both a terrace and an indoor seating area, but following a huge unexpected storm late afternoon, inside was the only option. The design is Bangkok chic, huge banquettes in which you can sink and disappear, black marble tables, whitewashed walls and it instantly puts you in the mood to forget the 40bt noodles for a night and spend some money.
The Chill Restaurant – Menu
The menu is both Thai and western, the latter offering pork and lamb chops, beef and salmon steaks, hamburgers and fries, plenty of pasta dishes and a whole host of pizza choices. On the Thai side of things, there are all the usual stir fries (everyone’s fave, holy basil is of course present), noodles, fried rice and Massaman curries but The Chill puts an emphasis on sea bass (Pla Kapong) served every which way, garlic and pepper, coconut curry sauce, green curry, with sweet chilli, being just a few of the variations.
The Chill Restaurant – Starters
After ordering, the waiter brought us each a taster, fish in a very light curry sauce, nicely presented, simple and tasty and that set the tone for the rest of the meal. For starters, we shared fresh spring rolls and minced herbed pork. The spring rolls were delicious, firm, fresh and summery. The herbed pork was a clever innovation, the Issan dish of laab served wrapped in rice paper, with the other constituent elements such as dried whole chillis and mint served as part of the presentation.
The Chill Restaurant – Mains
For the mains, Birthday Boy was more than happy to try the western side of the menu, opting for hamburger and fries. Both of these were homemade and the fries, served in a tall glass on the plate, and the chunky burger, served in a sesame bun with lollo rosso lettuce, received the royal thumbs-up, a minor gripe about the chips being a tad lukewarm not withstanding.
Us remaining three stuck with Thai dishes – seabass with garlic and pepper, seabass with a light coconut curry sauce (choo chee is the Thai name) and grilled duck curry. The two fish dishes were beautifully presented, but as well as looking the part, their taste showed a light and knowing touch in the kitchen, a delicate use of the spices involved so that nothing was too dominant and the taste of the fish came to the fore. On the other hand, the grilled duck curry was deep and rich as it should be, good fatty meat, a nice kick from the chilli counterbalanced by the sweetness of the pineapple and tomatoes.
The Chill Restaurant – Desserts, Drinks and The Bill
Availability on the dessert menu was patchy to say the least, but we found one banana longboat dish with ice cream (yummy) that served its purpose as a cake substitute. It came out from the kitchen bedecked in candles, lights were dimmed and we all, including the waiting staff, happily butchered a chorus of Happy Birthday.
For drinks, we tried a couple of glasses of the house red, perfectly acceptable and some excellent, proper gin and tonics. There is a full wine list too. The bill was 4,000bt for 4, money well spent on a great evening out at The Chill.
(My only real criticism of The Chill-out Cafe. Ditch that TV on the bar with its loop advertising for hotel activities, it’s just crass.)