WINE ME DINE ME
Is it just us, or have buffets become a guilty pleasure for you too? With all the stress and pressure of putting out the weekly magazine you're holding, it's so much easier to run to a buffet place every weekend for some gastronomic relief.
Plenty of Chinese restaurants offer a dim sum buffet. Hotel restaurants tend to provide international dishes in their buffet spreads. Japanese restaurants allow you to eat all-you-can a la carte items within a given time limit. There are so many yakiniku places where you can grill meat and eat as much as you want. We feel like renaming Bangkok the buffet hub sometimes.
However Bangkok's buffet scene is so fat with quantity and to spot a quality one among the crowd is like trying to locate your friend's head among the Silom crowd from the BTS platform during Songkran.
The new hotel entry to the Pratunam area is Centara Watergate Pavillion Hotel Bangkok. It "soft-opened" on Apr 1 above Watergate Pavillion Fashion Mall on the ninth to the 21st floors and it also offers a new buffet place called Cafe 9. The lunch buffet there is priced at B850 per person with free-flow soft drinks (prices subject to tax and service charge) while the dinner buffet is B1,250.
Despite being on the ninth floor, the panorama from the outdoor section of Cafe 9 propels you closer to cloud nine with the night view of the city and its sea of lights. The overall vibe of Cafe 9 is smart and modern, keeping with the hotel's appearance.
At Cafe 9, you get the usual suspects in a respectable buffet spread such as salads, Thai favourites, seafood with dippings, live pasta station, fruits and desserts for you to pile up on your plate.
On the Thai side, try Pomelo salad for a flavourful but not too spicy sensation. The ingredient list of the dish is staggering but works in delicious sync. Bits of the fruit give sweet and sour bursts while chicken shreds, shallot, kaffir leaves and roasted coconut add extra texture and flavour.
Delightful Marinated brie on a small skewer offers mild and slightly sweet cheese complemented by grapes.
Go Italian at the pasta station where you can choose from three types of pasta cooked four ways - tomato, meat, carbonara or aglio e olio. I find the tomato sauce very so-so and the aglio e olio to be most pleasing with its appetising aroma and mild heat.
Seared salmon with kale is cooked on the outer layer while the inside is still sashimi-fresh. It goes great with the tasty sauce made of jalapeno, mirin and wine. Kale atop the fish is cooked and seasoned Asian style.
Presumably to keep things interesting, Cafe 9 offer three different items under the "surf & turf" concept each day. This doesn't mean a big plate of lobster and steak in the traditional sense of the dish, mind you. The restaurant uses the term for dishes that combine seafood and meat. Lamb rump stew with anchovies offers tender meat with a slight hint of the sea. Deep-fried pork and shrimp roll gives you juicy meat in a crispy sheet. The most impressive of the three is Crab and beef in red curry sauce. The dish is like a pillow with a cover of aromatic meat and a cushion of delicate crab inside.
Custard and raspberry creme brulee are among the dessert selections. I find the custard to be a good choice for people who don't want a sugary end to their meal. Raspberry creme brulee offers a lighter and refreshing taste but unfortunately doesn't have the hard and sweet caramel layer on top that it should.
While there are some solid dishes I enjoy at Cafe 9, I must say that I expected more of a wow-factor given there are many hotel-buffet competitors out there. However, this newcomer is still in its soft-opening phase and may become more interesting as it develops its culinary repertoire.
If you're a buffet beast, why not drop by to try this brand spanking new place anyway. Because after shopping under budget at Pratunam all day, you may need to re-energise and splurge a little at Cafe 9.G
Japanese International Noon-2pm, 6-10:30pm 9/F, Centara Watergate Pavillion Hotel Bangkok, 567 Ratchaprarop Road 02-625-1234
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About the author
- Writer: Pornchai Sereemongkonpol
Position: Guru Reporter