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Two Fishes Restaurant Fishermans Village Bophut, Koh Samui

Opened barely five months ago the Two Fishes Italian restaurant, in the heart of the vibrant Fishermans Village, is already the talk of the town here on Koh Samui and not without good reason.This is most definitely not one of your standard Italian eateries of which there are an abundance on the island. Empty your mind and forget all your preconceptions about Italian cuisine because this establishment is different, very different, excitingly so.

Partners, Paolo Polidori and talented executive chef Leandro Panza who has more than twenty five years experience in the industry working in some of the finest Italian restaurants across the globe, have created what will surely become a top choice for tourists and residents alike to come and partake of their quite extraordinarily well considered and delicious menu.

Two Fishes has been thoughtfully designed with an instantly comfortable modernist environment and the placement of the kitchen within the restaurant allows patrons to watch and interact with the maestro and his team of sous chefs whilst they work their magic with experienced efficiency. Leandro has that all too rare talent among chefs to constantly be working on new and exciting variations of classic recipes, experimenting with new products whilst continually embracing the traditional Italian food ethic of using the choicest, in season ingredients, and preparing them simply and beautifully. We had the great pleasure of being treated to a ‘Degustation’ style menu which enabled us to try several of Leandro’s latest creations, some were revisited classics, others, inspirational new ways of presenting his carefully chosen produce.

As an introduction and ‘amuse bouche’ to accompany our heavenly pre-dinner Limoncello Daiquiri cocktail we were served with thin slices of toasted Bruschetta topped with a mix of sunripe tomatoes and tender egg plant that had been lightly macerated in a subtle blend of vinegar and herbs that literally melted in the mouth. To follow was Leandro’s interpretation of the classic South American Ceviche, also presented on smoke flavoured Ciabatta slices, where delicate Flounder strips almost Sushi style are delicately wrapped around a heart of finely sliced green salad peppers, shallots and ginger then drizzled with a fresh zesty lime dressing and the chef’s own blend of Anchovy flavoured light Soy sauce, a wonderful combination of flavours and textures.

Next we were treated to Calamari A La Griglia, fine strips of Squid served on a bed of traditional Sardinian Fregola pasta, ink sauce and crispy fried Salami, another great flavourful and succulent addition to the menu that was already proving to be rather revolutionary. Our journey into the varied starter menu culminated with the spectacular Pancia di Maiale al balsimico, generous pieces of slow roasted pork belly wonderfully married with Pomello and endive salad accompanied by Amalfi dressing and golden curls of pork crackling. This particular recipe highlights the creative capabilities of chef Leandro and proves that he has an inate understanding of balance of flavour, the addition of the slightly acidic Pomello with the sweet belly pork is inspirational.

After a short break the chef presented us with a selection from his incredible home made pasta menu starting with Paccheri Amatriciana, delicate al dente pasta tubes in an intensely tasty tomato, white wine and brandy sauce, topped with fresh slivers of aged Pecorino cheese. The following Spaghetti Carbonara was, without doubt, the best I have ever tasted. The word best is often bandied about in reviews and articles and is, by it’s very nature, a totally subjective acclamation but again Leandro’s mastery has turned a classic recipe on its head. The creamy, peppery sauce generously laced with cubes of smoke cured bacon pieces and a crispy slice of sugar coated, spiced Prosciutto on a bed of tender homemade wheat flour pasta and topped with a perfectly cooked egg is quite simply divine.

Ocean fresh fish is also well represented on this intriguing menu at Two Fishes and Leandro presented us with a Filleto di Black Grouper all’agro dolce. This flaky and succulent fish, a rare treat indeed, was served golden fried in a light batter on a wonderful combination of sweet and sour caramelized onions that harmonized so well with the mild flavour of the Grouper. With barely enough room left for dessert we were unable to resist a delightful homemade Tiramisu, the coffee sponge fingers light as air smothered in Masala and rich Marscapone cheese was the perfect end to our eye opening culinary voyage at Two Fishes, one that will be remembered for a long time to come.

If you try just one new retaurant this week and are looking for fine Italian cuisine prepared with real passion then make it this one, I cannot recommend this establishment highly enough… Bellissimo.

Neil Cretney.

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