Buffet at the Kad, Shangri-La
Daring to buck the trend…hopefully
Economists seem unable to agree on the best course of
action in an economic down turn or depression, not least
when politics intrude. Yet there is a general consensus
that when faced with unpalatable times those with the
gumption, (and the financial ability), to buck the move
towards parsimony prove to be the ultimate winners.
So what has bucking that trend got to do with catering,
you may well ask.
The trend is to rein in on expenditure: to cut
advertising, reduce staff numbers, or their hours or
salaries, to cut corners, (smaller portions, less
variety), and, importantly, to avoid wastage. Accepting
that wastage is never a good thing, morally or
economically, the rest of the above can actually be
counter productive. They affect turnover, morale,
quality and standards – and customer satisfaction. Buck
the trend, if possible.
A classic case, often cited, comes from the even worse
depression of the 1930s when two companies producing
breakfast cereals in the U.S.A. were battling it out for
supremacy. They were about equal in their fairly small
and as yet untapped market. When tough times arrived one
of them cut back drastically and did all the ‘sensible’
things, (see above). The other proved more aggressive,
upped its advertising and introduced new products which
went snap, crackle and pop. Cheapish, easily provided
breakfasts which were fairly nutritious became ever more
popular and today Kelloggs rule the world’s morning
tables, whilst the other company is history. Or perhaps
A similar notion, on a tiny scale of
course, is prevailing at the Shangri-La Hotel, in
respect of its well established buffets. This is a big
place and the temptation must have been to cordon off an
area, reduce the serving stations and – heaven forbid –
the quality whilst maintaining or raising prices.
Luckily wisdom prevailed.
It was decided that prices should be fixed or even
reduced and that choice and quality should be maintained
and even improved in some areas. The buffets have three
fixed prices: the so-called business lunch is 199 baht,
with four ‘live’ cooking stations and others with cold
areas. The dinner, which is the one that our quartet
sampled, is priced at 299 baht and boasts more stations,
including a very good salad bar, the sushi next to it, a
variety of hot dishes, some prepared on the spot and a
lot of very naughty puddings.
For those who fancy such things there is a BBQ Sunday
brunch, with all of the above, plus a variety of fish
and a carvery. They offer a chance to visit the pool for
a relaxing afternoon, following this extravaganza.
Medical advice might suggest a siesta before taking the
Our group found plenty to enjoy, with a distinct
improvement noted in the salads, compared with earlier
visits. The sushi was also well up to standard.
A portion of pasta with spicy vegetables was also
enjoyed, as was a pizza and a meat dish. And naming no
names, one diner made three trips, no further than the
sushi, plus an obligatory journey to the ice creams and
other sweets. The ‘problem’ with buffets is that they
lead us into temptation. And represent best value to
those with large appetites. But at 229 baht this is
value to even modest eaters.
Not surprisingly, especially given the ludicrous tax on
wine, the catch can be in the drinks menu. But carafe
water is in plentiful supply and a variety of beers
hovers around the 100 baht level. The Shangri-La at 89/8
Chang Klan Road is a huge building, (designed by the
great firm of Ove Arup), and nothing on earth will fill
it or other top grade hotels during the present period
with an estimated 60% decline in tourism, but at least
they are trying.
This is a very simple recipe to produce a very tasty way to
present chicken breast. The herbs and spices are all readily available here, and
most cooks will have them in the cupboard already.
Pound the chicken breast fillets to around 1 cm thick. Heat
cooking oil in the wok over medium-high heat until very hot.
Quickly cook the chicken, turning once. Do not overcook.
Remove from wok, set aside and keep warm.
Add the orange juice to wok. Quickly bring to a boil,
scraping bottom with a spatula to loosen any browned bits.
Add the onion, green peppers, red peppers. Cook, stirring,
for three minutes, until vegetables are tender.
Place the cornstarch in a cup. Add the apple juice and stir
until smooth. Add the minced garlic, ground cayenne pepper,
cumin, thyme, and salt and add to the wok, and cook for
another three minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Pour
over the chicken breast and serve immediately with steamed
Ingredients Serves 4
Chicken breast fillet 750 gm
Orange juice 1 cup
Onion, chopped 1 large
Green bell pepper, chopped 1
Red bell pepper, chopped 1
Cooking oil 30 mls
Cornstarch 2 tspns
Apple juice 2 tbspns
Garlic, minced 2 cloves
Ground cayenne pepper ½ tspn
Ground cumin ¼ tspn
Dried leaf thyme ¼ tspn
1 pinch to season