Tawan Coffee Shop

Exceptional value for money

By Elle Faraday

The proliferation of Japanese restaurants throughout Chiang Mai in recent years is testament to the increasing popularity of cuisine from the Land of the Rising Sun. These restaurants are not only popular with the large Japanese community living here but are well patronised by Thai and expat residents alike. Personally I have always had a great liking of the simplicity of Japanese food; I love the freshness of the ingredients and the attention to presentation that makes everything look simply sumptuous. I am always on the lookout for good Japanese cuisine and when I received a recommendation by a friend to visit the Japanese buffet at the Tawan Coffee Shop, located on the second floor of the Central Duangtawan Hotel, I decided to pay a visit.
The hotel presents its Japanese buffet every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night and I was astonished at the exceptional value for money that it offers. The food costs just 250 baht for as much as you can eat and no one on the planet would surely have a big enough appetite to try everything on offer.
When I dine on Japanese I have a ritual of starting with sashimi. I just love the fresh clean taste of raw fish with the wonderful, nose burning sensation of lashings of wasabi mustard in soy sauce. How I was spoiled! There was an enormous plate of fresh sashimi and I was tempted to over indulge on the salmon and saba along with the squid and sea bass. I managed to control myself in order to leave room for the many other delights on offer. I did, however, help myself to a couple of the nigiri and norimaki sushi as they were just too well presented to resist!
After finishing my delicious starters I was faced with an enormous range of options for my main course. I opted for another of my favourites - teppanyaki. There was a wonderful selection of raw meats and seafood to tempt me and as it was all included in the price I naturally decided to go for both! I assembled an impressive plate of giant prawns, fresh squid and fish and another of tender beef and succulent chicken for myself and my dining partner to enjoy and handed it to a jolly looking chef who began cooking my feast with great gusto and style! I have to admit that while we were waiting for it to cook we had a little nibble at some prawn and vegetable tempura that was deep fried in the lightest and most delicate of batters.
We enjoyed the teppanyaki with some delicious garlic rice and a plate of stir fried vegetables from the buffet table. In traditional style, we washed the feast down with a couple of flasks of sake which was warmed and served to perfection.
There was so much more on offer but unfortunately we had eaten as much as we could and I wanted to leave a little space for dessert. Next time, we will certainly enjoy the delights that we missed out on this time, including Japanese seafood salads, Hong Kong roasted chicken, vegetarian selections as well as dishes for the more conservative westerner of chicken in a wine sauce, a beef dish and a pasta dish.
The selection of desserts was irresistible. I indulged in a slice of the wonderfully creamy blueberry cheesecake while my partner opted for a calorie loaded mousse. There was also a wide range of Asian desserts and for the more health conscious, a bewildering array of beautifully presented fresh fruit.
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the Duang Tawan Hotel and I still cannot believe the exceptional value for money that the Japanese buffet offers. Luckily, its location close to the Night Bazaar meant we were able to walk off some of the calories gained while eating the wonderful food.
The Central Duangtawan Hotel is located at 132 Loi Kroh Road. The Japanese Buffet is served in the Tawan Coffee Shop on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights from 6pm. For reservations call 053 270 384.