The Dude Abides!!
If you are ever visiting Koh Samed, I’d highly recommend you visit the Red Ginger, a restaurant that serves decidedly tasty food, especially the ribs.
We have been having such a wonderful time eating in Thailand. We’ve been to Bangkok, Pattaya and Koh Samed. Tomorrow we leave for Chiang Mai by plane and come back to Bangkok by train. My stomach so far has been incredibly happy with me, eating my fill of Pad ka Praw (basil chicken), Pad Thai, garlic and pepper chicken, seafood curry, Tom Yum (soup) with shrimp or with an assortment of seafood, Spanish mackerel curry, seafood stew (don’t remember the actual English or Thai name for this one), mango sticky rice (something I’d never had before, but can no longer do without), mussels and cockle (another new one introduced to me by Nick – tastes like the sea), and squid and shrimp caught from the gulf in front of us, grilled fish we picked out from a group of fishes, crabs, etc.
The most interesting may have been last night’s dinner at Red Ginger. Recommended by my and Nick’s friend Beini, we (along with Derek) made our way there after our day-long excursion motorbiking the island and after a massage and beer. Located right on the main street that runs through the actual town, Red Ginger is on the side of the street with no sidewalks. It’s a quaint place with a red colour motif that reminds me of some of the joints I’ve frequented in Haight-Asbury in San Francisco with cool rock ‘n roll playing in the background. We immediately took our shoes or sandals off, walked inside to the right past the first room, to sit in the fishbowl, aptly named cos it’s the center of the restaurant easily able to attract the attention of the other patrons (which we did), not to mention the staff (which we did).
Of course, upon Beini’s recommendation, all three of us ordered the ribs. And it did not disappoint. Served with four massive bones each with a healthy dose of meat, mashed potatoes, a broccoli slaw, and carrots. Derek and I each ordered a tall Chang, and Nick got himself a healthy serving of red wine. If we couldn’t finish it, Roger’s wife warned us that she would charge us double. We would have gladly paid, but each of us being competitive, was not willing to take that challenge laying down.
We would meet and talk with the owner quite a bit – Roger. Barefoot and tall wearing black shorts and a reddish concert tee, with a perfectly shaped beard and long hair, he looked like a man who had decided to live the rest of his life on vacation. He looked like a man who could have been the front man to a rock n’ roll band. He looked like the singer to an outlaw country band. He looked like a man who could have raced fast cars for a living. He looked like a man who owned an island. He looked like a man who would own a restaurant with the best ribs in town. As Nick so aptly commented, he looked like The Dude.
He was Canadian. He lived in Koh Samed.
He reminded us of the expat we met in Pattaya, in that both of them, as well as many others we had come across, took obvious pride in their work. They owned every piece of every decision of their establishment. I admired them. Like Randy the day before, Roger had a glint in his eye and a quick smile when he talked of both the past and the future regarding how he got to where he was, and how they all converged onto the present.
He was very particular about his food; and if not to his standards, he wouldn’t serve them. The carrot soup wouldn’t sit on a table tonight. He had a special recipe for his ribs; and we were glad they made the cut this evening. Both sweet and tangy, we devoured them. The mashed potatoes were creamy, just the way I liked them, and we used them to slop up the rest of the sauce. And the broccoli slaw was the perfect mix of creamy and tart.
I particularly noticed, unlike most Thai establishments, how much better the service was here than elsewhere. And both Roger and his wife made it a point to talk with their patrons. For someone who frequents every sort of venue, I always find this especially refreshing. And makes me want to come back for more.
And Roger was genuine; he owned his space in this world, and made no excuses about it.
Before we left, I spied a quick conversation between Roger and two other patrons – Swiss gentlemen we would meet later in the evening at a Bob Marley bar (but that’s a story for another time).
Rolf: “Hello, may we ask you something? …We would like to order. How long is the kitchen open?”
Roger: “As long as I %$&#! feel like it!”
Who knew that in Thailand, a place where for me its cuisine is only beat by India, that the most memorable meal we would have was North American.
As Nick said it best while we all walked away with a smile, our stomachs happily full, “The Dude abides!”
Go Adventure. Go Travel. Go Live
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