Bangkok chocoholic heaven
Five-star hotel buffets are pretty high on our list of favourite things to visit when travelling. Up the ante and mention it’s a chocolate afternoon tea buffet and we’re ready to plan a dedicated trip to Thailand! Resident Bangkok expert Claire Mykura takes one for the team and tries out the buffet to beat all others.
Bangkok’s buffet brunches are famous around the world but for something a bit different head to The Sukhothai Bangkok Hotel for their Chocolate Afternoon Tea Buffet. This is far more than a few cucumber sandwiches and patisseries; this is lunch, tea and dinner in one.
Let’s be honest, if you don’t need a lie down to recover after an afternoon here, then you are doing something very wrong. Even those who are not complete chocolate addicts won’t be disappointed, the savoury dishes are just as enticing as the sweet and many of the desserts are not cocoa based.
One important thing to consider when preparing for Bangkok’s groaning buffets is how to get ready. Should you skip breakfast so you are starving by the time you get there, or eat so that you can carefully consider your choices? Never one to do things by half I trained my sweet tooth for the Chocolate Afternoon Tea Buffet in cafés around Bangkok, and started my day with a bowl of coco pops. I thought I wouldn’t be hungry, but once the chef had given me his grand tour of the two tea lounges I was ready to tuck in.
Sukhothai’s lobby is chic without being stuffy, although it is always nice to have an occasion to dress up. Be sure to bring a Pashmina though, as it can get a bit chilly.
|Hot tip: Wear something that will be kind to your stomach after your fifth trip to the dessert trolley – waist-cinching dresses were not made for all you can eat cake and sandwiches.|
The tea lounge is split into two separate sections and you can pick a table on either side, with the most popular (of course) being next to the piles of fresh fruit tarts, homemade ice-cream and full-sized cakes. Served alongside this banquet are pots of fancy French tea, coffee or for that extra fizz, a glass of bubbly.
I always like to approach the buffet like a meal, starting with savouries. There is plenty to pick from: freshly rolled sushi and sashimi, traditional cucumber sandwiches and mini mushroom pies. Everything is bite-sized, the gazpacho soup comes in a shot glass and the Parma ham filled croissants are cute enough to justify having a couple.
There is a good mix of classics and unusual choices: fried artichoke and duck rillettes were both dishes I had never tried but tasted delicious. I also couldn’t get enough of classic chicken satay or mozzarella and pesto on baguette.
To help you get your daily fruit and vege this table also has a corner reserved for fresh and seasonal goodies including passion fruit, melon and crudités.
|Hot tip: This is my most important piece of advice – bring a friend that enjoys food as much as you do. Nothing will make you feel guiltier than someone nibbling on a plate of fruit whilst you cover homemade ice-cream in chocolate sauce. I can’t resist attempting to try a little of everything at the sweet table and I need someone to share this fun experience with me.|
On my last count there were over twenty sweet treats to try, and I did my best. Highlights included Sukhothai’s signature chocolate ginger cake, mini red velvet cupcakes and baked peaches with almond and pistachio. There is always a range of warm and chilled desserts and handmade chocolates and just when you think it’s time for a break the friendly staff bring warm scones, jam and cream to your table.
One thing you are definitely not going to want to miss is the hot chocolate trolley. With 30 different chocolates and unusual ingredients it is up to you to select the chips and squares of chocolate that will make your perfect cup. They include dark chocolate from places like Papua New Guinea and Mexico, Lindt milk and white chocolate – with extras such as chilli, orange, nutmeg, salt and even curry powder. The staff know their stuff and will recommend great blends, finishing it with a dollop of fresh cream.
During a breather, take the chance to watch other people’s buffet etiquette, it’s a like a very high-class watering hole from a TV nature programme. The man sitting behind us, who came to the buffet alone, piled his table full of sausage rolls and strawberries, going back for more before he had even finished and peeled the pastry off the sausages.
|Hot tip: Remember that the buffet lasts three and a half hours so there is plenty of time to have a small rest and prepare for another go!|
The Afternoon Tea Chocolate Buffet is easily one of my favourite things to do in Bangkok, and I like to take visitors when they visit the city. At 900 baht (around $30 AUD) it’s not only delicious but also a bargain!