All-you-can-eat buffet spread lets you indulge your cravings
My problem with buffets is that it’s just too much under one roof. A cross-pollination of international cuisines mounted for the greedy consumption of guests. But then, if Italian-Japanese-Thai-French-Cantonese fusion tastes this good, all of those dishes that straddle cuisines and cannot be categorized, then why not?
And so it was that I ventured to the hotel buffet at Espresso restaurant on the mezzanine level at the InterContinetal Bangkok. Here they push and promote a “truly indulgent gourmet dining experience” with the buffet available every day of the week (B899++). A Seafood Buffet (B2,150++) is also available every Friday to Sunday evening, and there’s a ‘Bubbly Brunch’ on Sundays (B2,200++).
I began light with some Temari and Uramaki sushi, to which I added a disappointing left-out-for-too-long soft shell crab. “Soft” being the crucial word, not hot, fresh, and crispy, as you come to expect from first-rate soft shell crab. It was an okay start, nothing spectacular, but then things kicked up a notch.
A seafood platter is choked with crustaceans: oysters (French Fine de Claire), mussels (Australian and New Zealand), prawns (Thailand), crab legs and claws (Chile), and a thick lobster tail (Maine)—all mounted on ice. I dipped in-and-out, enjoying all of the fiddly gratification of ripping, tearing, crunching, and cracking of claws, pulling out fleshy clumps of meat. I could eat this stuff by the fistful.
The whole point of a buffet is to pile-up your plate and experiment; a little bit of this, a little bit of that, a whole lot of that stuff over there, and oh! is that a lobster tail? No one judges you at buffets, so I return to the stations. Some setup with “help yourself” options, while others have chefs on-hand, waiting to prepare your à la minute course. The untouched mountain of chilled fruits suggests that guests are in the habit of fulfilling their meat and sea cravings over any fruity fibre.
I’m drawn to a small sign that reads: “Foie Gras Station B1,400”. Ohhh come on, you’re not feeding and indulging me enough; you have to go and add a station for fattened goose liver, knowing full well that it’s impossible for me to refuse such luscious, silky, fatted gourmet offal. The special station is open until June 30th and features sea bass with foie gras emulsion and Wagyu beef patties with foie gras. There’s even unctuous cuts of foie gras on rice (aka: Foie Gras Sushi) with strawberries and a drizzle of balsamic. I order five, each of the plumped-up livers a generous, marbled slab of melt-in-the-mouth naughtiness.
Noodle soup comes with a choice of meat or seafood, and as with each of my visits to the stations, a member of staff offers to carry my bulging, spilling-over plate back to my table. I test the dim sum—har gow, siew mai, and char siew bao—and order bottled water to help the digestive flow of such glutinous consumption; although free-flow bubbles, wines, beer, and cocktails are also available, at a cost.
The InterContinental Bangkok
973 Phloen Chit Rd. | Open daily: noon-2:30, 6pm-10:30
Sunday Brunch: noon-3pm | Tel: 02 656 0444, ext. 6430
By David J. Constable