The Imperial Mae Ping is one of the better known hotels in
Chiang Mai, but their Shabu Shabu buffet is not as familiar. The
all-you-can-eat deal is B. 159 (net) any night other than Wednesdays, when
the charge is only B. 99. We decided that we should pay the Imperial Mae Ping
We were joined by Marina Subhananta from the Imperial Mae
Ping’s Public Relations Office, who informed us that by enrolling in their
‘member card programme’ (called the M Club) there were even further
discounts available, which would bring the cost down to only B. 120.
The restaurant is on the ground floor of the hotel. It is
predominantly decorated in white with some mirrored panels, red topped tables
and black tiled floors, and basically exudes Japanese minimalism. The helpful
service personnel are also in black with red aprons to heighten the effect.
The Shabu Shabu experience is a variation of the Asian ‘steam
boat’ style of eating. A charcoal fired soup steamer is placed in the
middle of the table and you indulge yourself by cooking your selected items
in the soup stock, and finish up with the enriched soup at the end. Think of
it as a ‘soup’ fondue, rather than an oil or cheese one.
Along one wall are the buffet items, and these are
extensive. You begin with various sauces, including Japanese vinegar, sweet
chilli, salted bean curd, spring onion, bird’s eye chilli, lemon juice,
turnip, garlic and soya. Then there are containers with both steamed and
fried rice, shrimp crackers and roasted chilli paste.
Turn the corner and you have egg noodles (yellow and
green), stuffed bean curd, wontons and fish balls. Moving right along, there
is sliced beef, chicken and pork, as well as chopped pigs stomach (for those
who have the stomach for it).
Continuing on, there are chicken, beef, shrimp and pork
balls, selections of red snapper, squid and jellyfish, a huge selection of
vegetables and greens including morning glory, asparagus, celery, spring
onion, lettuce, four styles of mushroom, bean curd and eggs. Finally, there
is the meat slicing station with plates of wafer thin beef and pork.
We made our selections and repaired to the table, where
the steam boat was all set up, stock boiling, and the helpful waitresses had
brought some sauces for us to use as dips. The steam boat also comes with a
wire strainer and a soup spoon.
From now on, it is up to you. We added the ‘harder’
vegetables to the stock right from the outset, such as baby corn and
asparagus and then began adding the meat selections. You can just throw
pieces into the stock and retrieve them later with the chopsticks like Madame
who is adept at such activities, or place them in the strainer, as I did, and
dip it in the soup, so you can easily find the items after a couple of
minutes. The thinly sliced meat cooks in two minutes and if dipped in egg
beforehand makes it very soft. We had fun and we were filled.
Endless refills of jasmine tea come with the buffet, and
local beers are as low as B. 45 (+ +) for draft or B. 115 (+ +) for a glass
of house wine.
The overall feeling of the team was that here was a
restaurant deal, in an upmarket hotel, that was not going to eat big holes in
your wallet. The choices are enormous, so there was something for everyone,
no matter what cultural (or culinary) background. During the evening of
dipping, dunking and devouring I mentioned that it has always been my feeling
that food should be more than nourishment, but should also be fun. Shabu
Shabu certainly fits into that equation, and I would recommend that Shabu
Shabu should be on your list when looking at entertaining a few people. It is
a ‘fun’ experience and for what you get, inexpensive. We enjoyed it, I am
sure you will too. Try it!
Shabu Shabu, the Imperial Mae Ping, 153 Sridonchai Road,
Chiang Mai, telephone 053 283 900, email [email protected] imperialmaeping.com
Major credit cards accepted and secure parking.