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Together with Leo Beer who are helping us discover lots of the island's restaurants, Phanganist took their official dinner date and foodie Jessica along with Leo Beer to go and discover Karnibar restaurant in Thong Sala.
Before we enjoyed a delicious dinner we caught up with one of the owners Ronen and his lovely wife Adi…
Thanks for having us Ronen, so what is your Koh Phangan story?
This is a nice story, my friend Guy already lived here so I came to visit and immediately fell in love with the island, starting in Sri Thanu then all of the areas.
Then back home in Israel I had another good friend who said ‘let’s go to Koh Phangan together’ and of course I said that would be amazing. At this point my partner Adi said that this time I should go with my friend and have fun etc but next time it should be me and her, so the third time I came it was with Adi.
Of course she fell in love with Koh Phangan also.
Me and Guy started to talk about having a business together so this is where we had the idea to make Karnibar and from that moment onwards me and my wife started making big changes back home. We let our businesses and clients go, rented out the house and then came here for good.
But I did all of this with a big love because of Koh Phangan, it’s the energy and the people, I love this place. It’s like a dream to live in paradise.
Why the name Karnibar?
It comes from ‘carnivore’, we took the ‘carni’ but we changed the c to a k as we preferred that.
So it’s the ‘Karni’ bar!
What made you want to have a burger restaurant?
In the last few years, especially in Israel I have seen a lot of these big places for burgers. Places where you can go and get a big beautiful one hundred percent beef burger but something different, places for proper hamburgers.
So we thought to bring that idea here and people love it. We have real french fries, the bread is from an Italian baker here on the island and the burger recipe is from home.
We’re lucky because we have a very good cook so even the veggie burger is great, she uses real vegetables to make it like broccoli, you can add stuff to it, it looks very good.
What inspired the design and ambience of Karnibar?
You take what you got and what we got is an amazing building. My wife mixed the colours especially, the brown and red go really well with the meat in the food and it makes the place feel warm.
We want people to feel comfortable here, that’s the first most important thing, if you want to go after twenty minutes of eating then you can but if you want to stay and feel at home then you can also.
And what do you hope for the future of the restaurant?
I will be very happy to continue to welcome people to eat a fantastic, delicious hamburger here.
The place is all for them, we just try to do our best for the people.
What’s your favourite burger on the menu?
All of them! I like the classic and then I add sauce, the bbq tabasco and mayo with mushrooms which are amazing and maybe onions.
What do you enjoy about the island in your free time?
Wow, I love the silence, I love anything. I cannot say something more than the other.
This island has so much to give and I have the time to just take a little from what is on offer. Every day there is something else and every time there are new things.
And what is your life philosophy Ronen?
If you want to smile then you have to give a big one!
It was a Friday when Phanganist went to visit Karnibar, the music was chilled and the atmosphere is perfect for a treat at the end of a long week.
It is also spacious and ideal for groups and nice and cool for those peak heat lunches.
We got a bit over excited and despite being told that the ‘classic’ was amazing we had to try the blue cheese burger which boasted not only blue cheese but sauted mushrooms.
The contribution of mushrooms with the blue cheese adds a new dynamic and has obviously been thought about and works really well with the burger which is soft yet retains a very meaty texture for all you carnivores out there.
All of the burgers are served with homemade coleslaw which packs a surprise punch with a lingering spicy aftermath. But it’s not too hot in case you’re worrying about chilli!
We always think it’s a good idea to try the veggie burger and Karnibar’s is a real display of creativity and very different to anything else.
You can see all of the vegetables, it’s almost tempura style and it’s not trying to be meat but in fact celebrating the veg!
The french fries are crispy and almost rustic and the bread has white and black sesame seeds and looked pretty sexy.
Jessica hates a soggy burger bun so this was right up her street!
We ate our meals at a relaxed pace which was a good idea as the portion is generous but as they have intended you to feel, you don’t feel rushed to eat and move on.
The building of Karnibar used to be a bank, hence the spacious open interior, we think it has definitely found its true calling in this restaurant.