Opposite Nakorn Payap International School, off the Ring Road
near city hall, is a large rambling building on the left, with car parking at
the front and sides. You will recognize it immediately, because it will be full.
On our lunch visit, it also looked as if the entire Thai
Army, Northern Division, had just parachuted in. There was one very compelling
reason for this battalion of soldiers, a 30 baht lunch. All you can eat lunch at
Ran Ahaan Phitsanulok costs 30 baht, up to 2 p.m. If you would like to drop in
for an evening meal you’ll pay a little extra. Nine baht to be precise, as the
all you can eat buffet is 39 baht from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m.
building is a huge airy open-sided affair with rustic wooden ‘park bench’
style settings as well as the more conventional tables and chairs set up along
both sides. At the front is the entrance where you pay your 30 baht and you get
given your plates. They’re not quite Wedgewood, but at B. 30, does it matter?
Fork and spoon you pick up from a cutlery station and these items are made of
the thin instantly bendable type. One fork stab with any force and it folds
immediately. Fortunately this makes them easy to bend back into shape as well.
You have been warned!
food buffet stations are in the middle of the building, and the hard working
chefs are at the rear. Generally it seems that they are duplicated to supply the
two wings of the building, but they were not exactly the same on our lunch
dates. The buffet stations incorporate two salad bars with sweet corn, cucumber,
lettuce, carrot boiled eggs, tomatoes and more. There are also two stations with
stir-fries and 20 curries including spare ribs, stir fried vegetables, deep
fried pork, many curries and assorted noodles. Soups are catered for too. Rice
stations are also there, being the staple that it is, but the rice is presented
in four different styles. Thai spicy salads (som tums) are also offered in its
own stations, where you can ‘mix and match’ to your heart’s content. If
that is not enough, there are ‘kanom Thai’ (desserts stations) as well. Cold
water is freely available too. Beer is also available, but obviously not in the
30 baht coverage!
I almost forgot, in the middle of the ‘left’ wing there
is a small karaoke station, where various performers got up to entertain the
hungry multitudes. I felt a little sorry for them, as feeding was more important
We went as a group of four, with three Thai folk and me.
While the Thai three quarters knew exactly what they wanted and what they chose,
this was not the case for Miss Terry. Some dishes I was familiar with, but the
beauty of the all you can eat buffet style was that I could choose just a small
portion, and if I liked it, went up for more, but if I did not, I could move to
the next station. When confronted with such a dazzling array of dishes it is
difficult not to be overwhelmed if you are not Thai, but a slow measured
approach is the way. I enjoyed at least 75% of what I chose, and those which did
not suit me were passed over in search of others that were to my liking.
This is the place to take a bunch of people and explore the
culinary side of Thailand at very little expense. You will also find that locals
will advise you on the various sauces or salad dressings that should be taken
with your choices. Finally, there is a toilet block on the right at the rear,
fairly agricultural, but functional and has western pedestals! What more do you
want for 30 baht? Recommended for a fun lunch, or lash out with the extra nine
baht and go for dinner!
Ran Ahaan Phitsanulok, off the Ring Road near city hall,
opposite Nakorn Payap International School, huge parking lot and hundreds of
seats. No need to book! Cash only, no credit cards!