Authentic Thai flavours shine through at this luxurious lunchtime buffet
If you hop on the private riverboat from The Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok hotel and cross the Chao Phraya River, you will find one of the best Thai buffets in town. At Sala Rim Naam Master Thai Chef Prasent Sussadeewong offers exquisite and authentic cuisine served in a rich colonial pavilion built in the traditional Northern Thai style. And there’s enough seating to comfortably sit 170 guests in this spacious riverside setting.
On arrival I try the signature rum and martini based Oriental Hotel Cocktail (B390), with twisted bamboo, sunken cherry, and strong flavours that go on to complement the food—which begins with dainty, delicious ‘snacks’ such as Thod Mun Goong, shrimp cakes with plum sauce, and Grathong Thong Je, which sees herbed vegetables served in crispy pastry shells.
The ‘dips’, meanwhile, are served on an elaborate backdrop of sculptured flowers, with pretty petals made from fresh produce. Steamed, frittered, and fried vegetables are served on a banana leaf, in big bamboo platters with polished silver serving spoons. Favourites included the Naam Prig Makham, with chili, tamarind, shrimp, and chicken, and the heavenly Lon Poo Talay, soya bean and sea crab in a coconut milk dip.
The ‘salads’ are flavoursome and light, with the most memorable being the Phlaa Pla Tod, a spicy deep-fried fish with a Thai herb salad, and the Yaam Som-O, a herbed pomelo salad with chicken threads and prawns. Next on the list are ‘soups’, including Tom Yaam Goong, a spicy blue river prawn soup with lemongrass and straw mushrooms, and Tom Klong Pla Grob, a spicy herbed soup with crispy dried fish, with a sublime and subtle flavour.
There are around sixteen ‘curry and main dishes’ to choose from, creating difficult decisions of what not to eat. But do try the Gaeng Kua Sabparos Gub Goong, a simply delicious prawn curry with pineapple, as well as the Goong Phad Prig Gluea, stir-fried prawns with chili and salt.
The ‘action’ dishes on offer refer to the luxury food carts at the serving stations, giving a nod to Bangkok’s premier street food destination status. Favourite dishes include Khanom Krog a Siamese rice pudding topped with sesame or spring onion, and Glauy Thod Mun Thod Phuag Thod, perfectly portioned Siamese banana, sweet potato, and taro fritters.
There’s also an array of over twenty desserts, but this is not quantity over quality—quite the contrary. Make a point to try the Kha Nom Thai, assorted Thai sweets, the Kha Nom Fug Tong, steamed pumpkin with coconut milk, and the Sung Khaya Fug Tong pumpkin custard. And to complete the meal, complimentary tea and coffee is included.
This first-class lunch buffet is available from Monday to Friday (B950), and Saturday to Sunday (B1,150), but if you prefer an à la carte dinner there’s fine dining and entertainment every evening with set ‘Classic’ (B1,800) and ‘Royal’ (B2,450) menus.
By Sara Lois Wilson
Sala Rim Naam
The Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok
48 Oriental Ave.
Buffet hours: Thu-Tue, noon-2:30pm
Tel: 02 659 9000