Siam Winery is on a mission to firmly establish a wine culture in Thailand. In Hua Hin there are two reasons for success in that mission. The company’s portfolio includes the Hua Hin Hills Vineyard which incorporates the recently renovated Sala Wine Bar and Bistro and downtown, the Hua Hin Hills Bistro and Wine Cellar. The expression ‘wine culture’ is about enjoying the intricate flavours and subtle variations of wine but also fine cuisine, good company and the ambience of the setting.
Our visit to the Hua Hin Bistro and Wine Cellar provided all these elements for the perfect way to enjoy the best of the wine culture of Hua Hin. The Bistro is located at the Villa Market on the second floor with seating for 40+ patrons. There may well be previous customers wondering about the Bistro’s absence from the previous location at the Market Village. That move was made over a year ago! Ambience is about character and atmosphere. The ambience of this bistro ensures that patrons are relaxed, comfortable and begin to experience ‘wine culture’ before the first glass is filled or menu considered.
The combination of checkered black and white flooring, the creamy shades of American white oak and the constant presence of shelved wine bottles is subtle enough but obvious enough to get you in the mood. Our ‘good company’ included the Head Chef, Kitti Kantiwong (AKA Khun Kob) and Chiraphan Permsuwan as the ‘Manager on Loan’ (from the vineyard bistro). Good company usually means good friends or perhaps family members. Our hosts showed us their sense of humour and knowledge of the essential wine culture ingredients. We laughed a lot, shared past experiences and really forgot the purpose of the visit.
By the way our attractive host is also known as Khun Koy, she explained that her nickname is spelt this way but pronounced ‘Kob’, meaning the little pinky (her description) or youngest member of the family. I accused her of having a South American (Mexican?) accent to her excellent English, yet another example of the ease of the conversation. There is now a promotion to explore authentic dishes from each Thailand Province month by month.
Our November exploration included Spicy Dried Damsel Fish, Mham Pork Salad, Ponyangkham BBQ with Sticky Rice and Grilled Ponyangkham Tenderloin. Pon Yang Kham is the name of a village in Sakhon Nakhon, a north-eastern province of Thailand. The village is home to the Pon Yang Kham Livestock cooperatives that farm Thailand’s best beef. Our Ponyangkham proved that to be the case. I am often disappointed that beef steak in Thailand can be so tough that a chain saw is required to provide very chewy portions! My comment to that effect was understood by our hosts who knew that our beef would be very different.
The range of flavours and textures (from crispy fish to tender juicy beef) was exquisite, complex and memorable. Apart from fine Monsoon Valley wines from the Hua Hin Vineyard, wines from at least 12 countries (including Mexico!) are on offer. The trick is to pair the wine with the cuisine and our hosts were ready to help. At the conclusion of our ‘session’ we had to leave behind at least four unfinished bottles of wonderful wine; each with a distinctive and complimentary effect on the palate.
We recommend that diners forget about pre-conceived ideas or presumptions, listen to suggestions and explore. Exploration of unfamiliar wines and cuisine is an important part of this fantastic real Thai wine culture experience. Our thanks to hosts (and new friends) Khun Koy and Khun Kob for a very relaxed and satisfying visit to the Hua Hin Hills Bistro and Wine Cellar. Can’t wait to see the December Provincial selections.
Where: Villa Market Hua Hin, second floor, 218/1-4 Petchkasem Rd. Open: Noon to 9.30 PM. Contact for bookings:+66 (0) 32 511 496 -7, Email email@example.com.
Footnote: To visit the Hua Hin Hills vineyard, including the refurbished Sala Wine Bar and Bistro, you can join the shuttle service from the Villa Market premises at either 10.30 AM or 3 PM. Bookings are advised.