Buffets are big business: By Brian Baxter
A wide range on offer in Chiang Mai
Like many people I have an ambiguous response to the
‘traditional buffet’. All too often they end up an excuse
for lazy management or for chefs to cram as many people into
an area as possible, put an excessive amount of at best
mediocre food onto side tables and then charge diners a high
price for serving themselves.
At the other end of the scale, it can prove an opportunity
for a range of fine dishes – many cooked to order (after all
who says buffets should be platters of cold cuts, salads or
simmering tureens of boil in the bag chicken?) allowing one
to sample many different foods from a national cuisine, or
perhaps a range of nationalities.
By coincidence I went to three buffets in recent weeks; one
was a ‘special event’ at D2, the second was the Hillside 4
charity launch at the Amari and the third was a lunchtime
gathering of the Long Yang Club at the Grand View. The last
was an exception for me since I don’t ‘do’ lunch, but since
they offer it at 150 baht inclusive it was inexpensive
enough to try. I can now see why it is very popular with
those people who enjoy a main meal during the day. All very
presentable and the dining area was immaculate.
The Amari event was a one-off and the numbers – 150 – made a
buffet inevitable. The staff coped well but you might easily
be persuaded to try their special buffet nights at the
adjoining Lanna Restaurant, which offers several stations,
each representing different Asian foods. Some dishes are
cooked to order, also included is Thai food on the terrace.
Certainly the best such meals I have had were at Moxxie’s at
D2, on a ‘Japanese evening’ and, at the end of August, their
‘Italian dinner’. This was relatively quiet as we went on
Friday and they were repeating the promotion the next
evening. There were ample chances to select food at leisure
and to try small portions of many different salads, starters
and various delicacies, plus having pasta cooked specially,
a selection of cheeses and some delicately poached fruits to
round off a super evening. Not cheap at 899 baht, but then,
quality and such service can never be ‘cheap’.
The same may be said of Le Crystal, which has been offering
splendid buffet evenings on the last Saturday of the month –
ending on September 27. I went to their June event and it
was pretty special; but then, at 950 baht, so it should be.
The only problem is a comparative lack of space, but as the
wide terrace is used for the main hot dishes there was ample
room to make a selection.
The opposite is certainly true at the Shangri La, which I
visited very recently on one of their concert evenings.
Another one is scheduled for this month, with music by
Ellington and Gershwin, at a great value 550 baht for the
concert and the buffet supper. It is open every lunchtime
and evening for food only – my quibble is the size of the
dining area. If one is seated well away from the displays
then it is quite a trek back and forth and one often has to
disturb people. The alternative is to stack up a plate with
food-something I hate. The food looks so unappetizing and
the diners look greedy.
I am told that the Holiday Inn has an especially good Sunday
brunch with roasts, if that is your thing, but I’ve not
tried it. However they have a special Seafood Buffet planned
for Friday, September 26, which sounds intriguing. Perhaps
Kantary Hills will repeat their experiment that I reported
on a few weeks ago.
So, keep your eyes open for the many ‘specials’ and learn
which hotels and (fewer) restaurants make a habit of
offering buffets. In a small group they can be fun and some
are remarkable value if you are hungry enough.
My colleague Neil Robinson is taking over this column for a
few weeks from September 16 – so thanks to him in advance.
Thai Crab and Prawn Pie
This recipe makes for a very unusual kind of
pie. Forget the steak and mushroom, this is a healthy, fast and easy to make
seafood pastry pie recipe which makes a great side dish, lunch or meal for a
Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C). Roll out the thawed pastry
until it is thin (around 0.5 cm) and line the inside of a pie dish, leaving
enough for the lid of the pie. Set aside.
Combine crabmeat, prawns, lemon grass, ginger, cream and milk. Season according
to taste. Spoon mixture into the pie. Make sure that the mixture completely
fills all the pie dish.
Moisten edges of pie shell with half of the beaten egg. Put on pastry lid and
crimp edges to seal.
Using remaining egg, brush lid to glaze. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden.
Serve hot with a light salad and white fluffy rice.
Thawed short crust pastry
Canned crabmeat, drained 2 cups
Jumbo tiger prawns, chopped,
shelled and de-veined
Pickled lemon grass and ginger chunks,
Full cream milk