Return to the Roots

Return to the Roots

Chef Santi Wongsawat’s Phensiri Restaurant:
Samui’s Lost Recipe is a legend in the island’s food scene
with secret ingredients for culinary success.


Chef Santi Wongsawat, a native of Samui Island, grew up immersed in the aromas and favours of his mother’s food and sweets business. From a young age, he assisted his mother in the kitchen, honing his skills and embracing the rich culinary heritage passed down to him.

The result is Phensiri, a restaurant famed for its bold southern Thai cuisine and use of fresh local ingredients. Samui, with its archipelago, is blessed with fresh seafood in abundance. The island is also known for coconuts, which play a vital role in the local cuisine alongside the fruits of the sea. The age of coconuts matters too, as mature coconuts go best with curry-based dishes while young ones, with their subtly sweet favour, are ideal for desserts.

Quality of Ingredients

Local Ingredients

Samui’s cuisine also draws inspiration from Malay herbs and spices. For instance, Hua Kra Thue from the ginger family is a staple in southern Thai curries, through these days it is often replaced by galangal due to availability.

Different herbs and cooking methods create distinct flavours – exemplified by the way coconut milk is simmered on low heat to preserve its rich, sweet smoothness, or brought to a rolling boil to create a different sweetness and texture.

Local Communities