Gastronomer Lifestyle_Lido_Italian Flavours_Malibu Vibe_The Standard Hua Hin

Lido: Italian Flavours, Malibu Vibe

Written by Joe Cummings

July issue ‘Italian’, 2023 

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Hua Hin’s first Italian visitor of note, Alfredo Rigazzi, arrived as an architect employed by the Royal State Railways of Siam (RSR) in the 1920s. Rigazzi designed the original Railway Hotel (now the Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hua Hin), a grand two-storey, brick-and-wood European-style resort on the beach, in 1922. He very likely also had a hand in the rebuilding of Hua Hin’s famed railway station in 1926, as both structures were commissioned by Prince Purachatra Jayakara, then the commander of the RSR (today the State Railway of Thailand). 

Once the rail link between Bangkok and Hua Hin was in operation, King Prajadhipok (Rama VII) commissioned a sprawling summer residence of Victorian- and Spanish-inspired golden teak buildings, walkways, and verandas called Wang Klai Kangwon (“Palace Far from Worries”) a few kilometres north. The completion of the beachside palace in 1933 initiated a new parallel life for the sleepy fishing town, one that revolved around royals, courtiers, and the Bangkok elite, who enjoyed Hua Hin as a quiet backdoor escape for much of the late 20th century, when the palace became the primary summer residence of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX). Bangkok’s burgeoning middle class adopted Hua Hin holiday beach culture in the 1980s, and tour agency promotions drew an increasing number of international visitors as well.

While Scandinavians and other northern Europeans favoured Phuket and Pattaya, many from Spain and Italy chose Hua Hin over other beach resorts in Thailand. Hence, Italian eateries have long been in ample supply in town, with most offering simple “international tourist Italian” menus emphasising pasta and pizza. Only in recent years have we seen more sophisticated Italian dining venues in Hua Hin such as Trattoria by Andreas and Carlo Ristorante Italiano, to name two favourites well-regarded among resident and visiting gastronomes. 

Since last year, Lido, a casual dining spot at the seaside heart of Hua Hin—in fact, right next door to the former Railway Hote—has taken local Italian to the next level. As part of The Standard Hua Hin, which opened in late 2021, the restaurant occupies a prime position at the front of the resort overlooking a white-sand beach.

With its prefab Malibu-style villas, poolside DJ, a swimming pool outlined with tile calligraphy by Brooklyn-based artist Rostarr (Romon Kimin Yang), and bougainvillea-and-bamboo arched walkway to the beach, The Standard Hua Hin glows with youthful energy. 

Lido’s menu counterpoints the overall vibe with bespoke recipes that are authentically Italian but with sufficient adventurous twists to keep you coming back. Nduja & Prawns Risotto pairs black tiger prawns with smoked Calabrian pork-and-chile sausage to create a full-bodied rice plate that almost leans towards paella. A dollop of Thai longan honey over baked goat cheese crostini, alongside arugula tossed with grilled artichokes, meaty and aromatic Taggiasche olives, and confit cherry tomatoes, make up the spectacular Arugula e Capra. Pan Seared Red Snapper comes with pumpkin risotto, grilled spring onions, roasted pumpkin, pine nuts, and virgin olive oil dressing. For something more traditional, Lido offers Ossobuco Milanese, braised veal shank served with pancetta, Parmesan risotto, fava beans, and gremolata. Vegans may revel in Melanzane e Ceci, an ample plate of grilled whole eggplant, chickpeas, tomato, and tangy pickled pomegranate.

Among the listed sides, Sautéed Creamy Local Spinach outperforms its simple name with perfectly cooked and seasoned greens and only a hint of cream, thus preserving fresh flavours. A large and varied children’s menu dubbed The Cool Kid makes family meals an easy undertaking.

Lido’s well-curated international wine list travels far and wide with an emphasis on good vintages from Italy, France, and Spain. On the night we dined at Lido, house reds by the glass included an impressive Colle Corviano Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC, Abruzzo, Italy, 2021 and a Famille Bouey Rock Edition, Bordeaux, France, 2020. House cocktails feature an Italian- inspired Galliano Spritz, a Sangria d’Avola, three kinds of Negronis, plus the usual classics.

It’s not often one singles out any restaurant anywhere for a dessert dish, but Lido is worth visiting just to sample the Bomboloni, a paradisical plate of Italian doughnut-like pastries bursting with fresh-made vanilla and pistachio crema pasticcera.

Lido is located at The Standard Hua Hin (59 Naresdamri Road, Hua Hin, Hua Hin District, Prachuap Khiri Khan 77110). The restaurant opens daily from 6:30–10:30am, noon–11pm. For more information, please call 032-535-999.

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