Lanna Palace

Is this Chiang Mai’s cheapest lunch buffet?

Chiang Mai is fortunate in having many places to go to for lunch, but this week’s lunchtime visit by the Dining Out team produced results that were very surprising in many ways.

We went to the Lanna Palace Hotel in Changklan Road to try their lunch buffet at the invitation of their PR manager Khun Naiyana. The buffet in their Lanna Kitchen was what was on offer, and we went without any prior knowledge of it.

Enter the hotel by the main entrance and turn towards the right for the Lanna Kitchen restaurant. On entering, it is very bright, with high ceilings, and very spacious, with windows along two walls. In the far corner there is a music podium with a cheerful chappie entertaining the lunchtime diners with some soft all-time favourites. The restaurant is also suitable for family dining, and indeed we arrived ‘en famille’ and the staff were not fazed in any way. I should also mention the fact that the chairs are comfy and the tables covered with white linen. This is not a cafeteria, but a high quality hotel restaurant.

The Lanna Kitchen has a central island area with much of the buffet, but also other stations along two walls, including a live cooking station featuring Thai salads and another with dim sum items and pork leg in red sauce.

The buffet is actually very international, with Thai, Lanna, Chinese and European items on offer. These included, on our day (the choices vary daily), the authentic Sai Oua (northern sausage) and Kab Moo (pork skin crackling). Other items were a grilled snapper Louisiana, pork spareribs with white turnip, French onion soup, Chinese chicken with black pepper, many salads and a wide range of desserts including Thai, fresh fruits and even a British blancmange.

Our lunch group covered Germany, Australia and Thailand, so we all managed to find different items. Madame, who is Thai, made for the Thai salad live station and found enough items there to keep her happy, and a lady chef who was prepared to make the salad to her order.

The German contingent went for the Chinese pork leg in a red sauce, which was very similar to a German pork knuckle, and was judged as being very tasty.

Being a sucker for Dim Sum, especially steamed pork bun, I made my way to the live station, where I also had some other steamed Chinese items. All of which were a great start to lunch for me.

I tried the French onion soup, but it was a little cold, so perhaps the flame had gone out underneath. I should have looked before ladling.

The cold meats and garden salads appealed and I enjoyed some of that before returning to the live Chinese station for more dim sum!

However, the really staggering aspect to the Lanna Palace buffet lunch was the price. This is an all you can eat deal, in an upmarket hotel, with all the trimmings, and costs 120 baht per head! Stupendous value. It does not stop there either. If you purchase six buffet coupons from the hotel cashier before lunch, this will cost you 600 baht, bringing it down to 100 baht a head. Really unbeatable value.

We were very pleasantly surprised by our lunch at the Lanna Palace. The buffet was a typical hotel style buffet, but the non-typical hotel price of 120 baht (100 baht if you pre-purchase six vouchers) made this a sensational bargain. The individual items are varied enough to give sufficient choices for any diner, and the addition of the Chinese dim sum items actually elevates the Lanna Palace buffet above many others in Chiang Mai. We also spotted the executive chef sitting quietly enjoying the buffet lunch as well. That has to be a recommendation!

This is definitely another worthwhile alternative when you are looking for lunch, and particularly so if you are dining on a budget. Another recommended venue for an interesting lunch.

Lanna Palace Hotel, Lanna Kitchen, 184 Changklan Road, Chiang Mai, telephone 053 819 317, fax 053 819 222. Lunch buffet from 11 a.m. till 2 p.m. Secure parking in hotel forecourt.