D2 Hotel Buffet:  By Neil Robinson

The Moxie restaurant shows how a buffet should be done

In last week’s column, I told how we try to review and recommend restaurants that we believe CM Mail readers will enjoy visiting. Restaurants that we try which do not seem worth recommending, for whatever reason, we generally do not waste time returning to and we do not review. As a consequence of this policy, we end up going to many more restaurants than we write reviews for. My experience this week is a good example of the difficulties (for the reviewer) of this policy.
I started the week by trying a recently opened farang food restaurant, which had been strongly recommended to me, with the intention of reviewing it. Unfortunately, although it shows real potential, it is just not yet ready. I felt it would be an unkindness to review it now, since that might damage its chances of survival in a tough market. Given time, it may well fulfill its potential. I plan to go back there in a few months in the hope that they have worked out their problems.
A couple of days later, I tried a buffet, which again had been recommended. In fact, I tried this particular buffet some time ago, and thought it might make a suitable topic for a review. The food this time certainly was not bad, indeed some of it was very good, but the general impression (taking into account the significant cost) was of mediocrity. It illustrated the reasons why I usually tend to avoid buffets – some items that simply were not as fresh as they should have been, or were not served at the right temperature, usually too cold, or were tasteless or blandly seasoned, presumably with the intention of not offending anyone. I left feeling I did not want to recommend it.
So, what on earth was I going to review this week? With misgivings, I tried another buffet, this time at the Moxie restaurant in the D2 Hotel. This was one of the Moxie’s periodic buffets, highlighting different cuisines. This time it was Mexican food. I spent almost 30 years in California. During this period, and on occasional visits to Mexico, I ate Mexican food on many occasions. Unlike in California, so far as I know there are not that many Mexicans in Chiang Mai, so I did not have very high expectations going in. I was wrong. Moxie showed how a buffet should be done, with much freshly prepared food to order, such as fajitas and quesadillas, and good clear flavours. The buffet was also very attractively laid out. There were aspects that may not have been entirely authentically Mexican, but overall it was among the best Mexican-style food I have tasted in many years of eating it.
It may be a while before D2 do a Mexican buffet again (I hope not too long), so I will not go into too much detail on the food, just mention a few of the items which particularly struck me, among the very wide range on offer. Chicken mole (mole indicates a chocolate-based sauce) is one of my favourite dishes, surprisingly not particularly common in Mexican restaurants in California. This sauce was more delicate, and less bitter, than many I have had, but this version was definitely to my taste, subtle and well-balanced. The tacos, that staple of Mexican fast food, struck me not only for the filling, featuring excellent beans, but especially for the taco shell. This was not only really thin and crisp, but had a distinct corn tortilla flavour that came through really well. Still on the theme of tortillas, I enjoyed the spicy, but not hot, tortilla soup.
There were many other dishes worthy of note, but I just want to mention the desserts. I have never thought of desserts being a big part of Mexican cooking, with the exception of flan, arroz con leche and churros of course. All these were on offer, along with many more, including delicious lime avocado ice cream, tangerine mousse flavoured with licorice, and something described as “tacos filled with fruit and chocolate mousse.” These last were not like any tacos I have had before – the shell was sweet and crisp and took me back nostalgically to the brandy snaps of my childhood in England.
The cost for the buffet was 800 baht and refreshing margaritas were 150 baht. These prices include both tax and service. Not cheap, but worth it. I welcome comments at: [email protected]


Spicy Red Snapper

Snapper is in good supply and is always a tasty fish. This dish spices up the snapper and is always a favorite with any Thai guests. The spiciness comes from the garlic, so add another clove if you want to increase the fire.

Cooking Method
Preheat oven to 350F. Sprinkle the fillets with lemon juice and let stand.
Heat oil in a skillet over med-low heat. Stir in the bell peppers, garlic and onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the fillets and cook 1 minute per side. Leaving fillets in the skillet, add the wine, parsley, basil, cayenne and pepper. Cover and simmer 2 minutes.
Transfer to an ovenproof glass baking dish. Spoon tomatoes over the fish. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and ground pepper. Bake in oven until fish is opaque, about 8 minutes. Serve immediately with rice.

Ingredients               Serves 4
Red snapper fillets               600 gm
Fresh lemon juice                  1 tspn
Vegetable oil                        1 tbspn
Green bell peppers chopped   cup
Garlic, crushed                     1 clove
Onions chopped                    cup
Dry white wine                      cup
Fresh parsley chopped         1 tbspn
Cayenne pepper           1/2 teaspoon
Fresh ground pepper
Tomatoes chopped                 1 cup
Parmesan cheese grated       cup