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As a confirmed carnivore and somebody who is not what anybody would describe as a ‘health freak’ I was intrigued when I was invited for dinner at Vikasa Life Café.
With no idea what to expect I arrived on a very wet and windy evening to this rather special spot on one of the highest points between Chaweng and Lamai. After finding some easy to access parking I went into the hill top restaurant where I found an incredibly warm welcome.
As the rain cleared up the panoramic view took my breath away. I had no idea Vikasa Life Café had such a dramatic location, during the day you would be hard pushed to find a better bird’s eye view and after sunset, the twinkling lights of Chaweng Bay are romantic, inspiring and atmospheric.
The spacious split level restaurant looked like the perfect spot to while away a few hours and treat my body to some seriously healthy food and pack in a vitamin hit. Not entirely sure what to expect from a restaurant that offers vegan-friendly and raw food I was immediately reassured by the aromas coming from the all you can eat buffet that is a feature every night, on closer inspection the dishes looked as good as they smelled so feeling rather relieved I took a seat with my partner who also looked suitably impressed by the surrounding that are elegant enough to make this a special dining experience but low key enough to make you feel incredibly relaxed.
So, first things first, determined to indulge in a healthy pre dinner drink before we had a glass of wine or a beer, and yes, both are available if you fancy, we checked out the juice menu and were suitably impressed. Our hosts recommended two of their signature drinks, the Monkey Business and Passion Fruit Vanilla. Monkey Business is a delicious combination of banana, dates, cacao and cinnamon, this rich blend of goodies is very moorish and I had a great deal of trouble not swigging it down in one, the cacao gave it a really rich, indulgent and decadent flavor that made it feel anything but healthy. Hard to believe anything that tastes this good can actually be so good for you! The Passion Fruit and Vanilla was equally impressive, fresh and refreshing and packed full of goodness.
For those of you who enjoy wine I can highly recommend the Evans & Tate – Gnangara Cabernet Sauvignon and the Beringer – California Chardonnay.
Getting rather overly enthusiastic to try more drinks, take in more vitamins and have our taste buds tantalized we then decided to try two blended signature juices the Samui Sunrise, a wicked combination of orange, carrots beets, apples and ginger that again was so good it was hard to get our heads around it not being an alcoholic cocktail in a top end lounge, how do they manage to get fruits and vegetables to taste so good? Our last dabble in delectable drinkables was the Green Machine an exotic combination of mixed green veggies, ginger and lime, the ginger gave this incredible creation just the right amount of kick and the lime ensured it was wonderfully refreshing. Feeling rather ‘high’ on the tail end of a monumental vitamin overdose we were seated at a large and rather ‘posh’ hardwood table where we could take in more of those incredible views over what was now a clear sky.
The menu at Vikasa is packed full of incredible dishes that are all very hard to choose from. Far from my imagined confusing array of dishes I had never heard of, I was confronted with an seemly endless list of gastronomic options that sounded delicious, and cater for every taste be that vegan, vegetarian, raw vegan or non vegetarian. By the way all of the dishes have a little indicator to let you know which category it falls into, very handy. I could only imagine that Chef Boris Lauser from Berlin is a bit of a culinary wizard whose knowledge of dietary requirements runs to the genius. With every taste, flavor and food combination known to man in front of me I asked the advice of the very well informed and friendly staff and management team who were happy to recommend.
My first step of healthy heaven was Handroll with almond ginger sauce and mango chutney. This raw dish looked almost too good to eat and like all of the dishes was delivered with five star fine dining presentation. As I tentatively took my first bite I was hit with an explosion of fresh flavors that danced together in perfect harmony and were superbly complimented by the creamy almond and ginger sauce and spicy mango chutney, it was truly spectacular, I was more than a little impressed. I then delved into a Chinese dumping with plum sauce that comes wrapped in a chewy rice paper, smooth and rich this dish, that is also raw, was a little package from heaven. By this point I was starting to suspect I could become addicted to healthy eating, however it was the Chips and Dips that really got me hooked, if you have never had Crispy flaxseed wafers with veggies and cashew dill dip, then don’t because if you do like me you will simply not be able to stop thinking about them and wishing you had some to hand at least ten times a day. I have been rather blessed in Koh Samui to have eaten at some of the best restaurants the island has to offer, however it has to be said that to date this is the most impressive thing I have eaten yet.
Feeling very relaxed in pleasant surroundings with the cool ocean breeze and easy to listen to tunes playing we ordered a glass of wine and were presented with our main dishes. The Vi-Greek Vikasa is a gigantic Greek salad bursting off the plate with fresh ingredients that shine in the low level lighting. Wonderful olives, decadent feta cheese, incredibly light and delicious dressing and leaves that looked as if was only seconds since they were picked are all perfectly combined to create and unforgettable salad. The Seared Tuna Magic, another signature dish of seared tuna with a side of local greens and mango dressing was also pretty mind blowing. Rich and flavorsome and generous of portion this dish was wholly satisfying as well as being delicious and nutritious. If these dishes do not make you realize that eating healthy food is not every bit as satisfying as indulging in meals that are decidedly less so then nothing will. What impressed me was the feeling of being full and satisfied without the bloating food coma you get when you pile in food that leaves you feeling guilty and sometimes rather sick when it is of the less healthy variety.
After a break and a chat with some of the delightful in house guests who sensibly spend more than one evening at this stunning location we were onto the dessert menu. I was wondering just how this trip down health lane was not going to take a dramatic u turn back into flab land. Enter the homemade coconut cheese cake that looked every bit as if it was about to undo all of the good work our previous dishes had given us as well as load on about ten million calories. With a delicious crispy crust, its indulgent creamy centre and fluffy coconut topping I thought I had caught these guys out in a bit of a sneaky hand but no, this incredible dish is made only from coconut with nothing as devilish as it tasted in sight, how do they do it? Simply mind blowing.
So I was hooked, both on the location and the dishes, however after a very interesting chat with the manager I discovered another reason to support this superb venue, not only are all of the ingredients fresh and organic, many of them are brought locally that also helps to support the local economy and, as if you needed any more reasons, residents of the island can register and receive a local discount making what is a remarkably affordable restaurant even more affordable and believe me it is not very often I suggest anywhere puts their prices up.
Vikasa welcomes nonresident guest for dinner and the nightly buffet that offers a myriad of tempting and healthy dishes, the also welcome you to partake in their buffet brunch that is available from 9-30am and is packed to the brim with tempting, delicious and of course ridiculously healthy dishes.
What is going on here is completely magical, I had no idea that seriously healthy options could taste so good, and as we waved goodbye I had a smile on my face, all of the satisfaction of really pigging out and indulging with no thoughts of guilt, or the weeks diet I would need to go on to make up for it, just a satisfied feeling of having the best the island has to offer, at a seriously affordable price and a body thanking me for my kindness for packing it full of energy fueling vitamins!
For more information on dining at Vikasa click here to visit their website.