Surf's Up at NEXT2 CAFÉ

Seafood and red meat go hand in delicious, protein-packed hand at NEXT2 Café, on Friday nights, by the river, at the Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok, as they serve up the Surf 'n' Turf buffet extravaganza

Picture a Friday night, the breeze is blowing gently, river life is floating by and the lights along the banks of the Chao Phraya are glittering all around. You take up your waterside spot at NEXT2 Café, in the Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok and order drinks. This is the perfect prelude to an evening filled with delectable gastronomic indulgence, at their new Surf 'n' Turf Night (B2,398 nett per person food only).

If you like your seafood cooked to perfection and in copious supply, complemented by succulent meats that meet your demand, then you have met your perfect match. Dinnertime here will dazzle, and certainly not disappoint. However, it is important that you review your buffet strategy, before commencement, so that you allocate sufficient time for each buffet station and reserve enough room for dessert. Each food-laden station requires close personal attention, in this surf and turf adventure.

New to Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok, but not new to the luxury hotel group, Portuguese Executive Sous Chef Deivid Paiva introduced me to this dining extravaganza – cold dishes first. The organic station ensures the freshest leaves and salad components, with a whole range of dressings and toppings. The appetizer and pre-composed salads station list is long, but includes: red wine poached foie gras terrine; smoked duck breast with beetroot, endive, raspberry and walnut salad; seared Angus beef with prawns, asparagus, arugula and mustard; and grilled baby octopus, chorizo, olives and roasted red peppers with sherry vinaigrette.

The surf side of the buffet is a wondrous highlight. Not only is there a vast array of freshly cut and rolled colourful sushi and sashimi, as you would expect from a Shangri-La buffet, but the seafood-on-ice display and live oyster station are to die for. French Fine de Claire and Prat ar Coum oysters are accompanied by the Dutch Zeeuwse counterparts. However you like to jazz up your oysters, NEXT2 Café has it covered. Simply with a squeeze of lemon and lime, with shallots in red wine vinegar, or spiced up with roasted red chilli jam and other Asian flavours, too numerous to mention, the choice is yours.

Stacked up high, this seafood lover's dream is constantly replenished with whole Canadian lobsters, pre-cracked Alaskan King crab legs, huge blue swimmer crab claws and locally sourced sea river prawns. Be sure to grab a few different small receptacles for a variety of dipping sauces, such as the house-made spicy Thai seafood sauce.

"Sustainability is an important issue for us at Shangri-La, so we feature as many sustainable ingredients as possible, including Keta salmon on our ceviche and gravalax bar," explains Sous Chef Deivid. Keta salmon is sourced from the cold waters of Alaska, using traditional and ethical fishing methods, and is MCS-certified. Pickled with beetroot or simply smoked and served with lemon and capers, the light and less oily texture of this salmon is well worth a second top-up serving, set alongside steak tartare, salmon ceviche and plenty of crudités.

Regardless of when, during the meal, you prefer your cold cuts and cheese, the Surf 'n' Turf buffet has a premium offering of hams and salamis, delicious olives and sun-dried tomatoes, together with a complete mélange of soft and hard cheeses from around the globe, to be paired with jams, chutneys, compotes, fruit, nuts, honeycomb, crackers and breads. Do not miss the homemade fig jam, which stands up to even the strongest of cheeses.

After that fill of cold servings, the hot stations are begging for attention, trussed up with both fancy and hearty flavours, from around the world. Cheeky snacks include lobster and bacon sliders in squid ink buns, seared foie gras burgers, or small a-la-minute wagyu steaks and prawns in palm-sized bamboo baskets. Lobster paella is dotted with chorizo, next to the carving station, where roasted wagyu prime rib or roasted lamb shank can be snagged with fluffy Yorkshire puddings, while the salmon coulibiac has pastry baked to golden, with beurre blanc and rosemary jus.

Lobster bisque is naturally the decadent soup du jour for this event, and other western favourites comprise chicken ballotine, sea bass, veggie lasagna, roasted gnocchi, osso bucco and much more. China and Hong Kong are also represented, with BBQ pork spare ribs, chicken and cashew nuts, eggs noodles, noodle soups and such. While the Indian tandoor oven works overtime, producing prawn and chicken tikka, as well as traditional breads, side by side with on-theme masalas, kormas and biryani. No buffet in Thailand is complete without a taste of Siam, where balanced Thai flavours incorporate the best of land and sea, from salads and stir-fries to curry and rice dishes.

Outdoors, on the terrace, a live pad Thai station preps plates a-la-minute, while the Mongolian grill sends aromas across the deck, delivering on taste with red and white meats, fish and seafood, in myriad ways and means.

Lastly, but by no stretch of the imagination least, the dessert station sees a steady flow of mango sticky rice, in traditional white, butterfly pea blue or black varieties. The ice cream wheel will make your head spin, with all of its different choices, and there is no shortage of sweet temptations, from cakes, slices, pastries and praline pops, to the unctuous chocolate fountain and its fun assortment of candies, cookies and fruit chunks, to drench in silky oozing chocolaty goodness.

Surf 'n' Turf Night is every Friday from 6.30pm–10.30pm, at NEXT2 Café, in the Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok, while the live acoustic house band plays outside intermittently from 7.30pm.

For further information and reservations, you can reach the hotel, by calling 02 236 9952 and 02 236 7777, or by emailing restaurants.slbk@shangri-la.com. Do check out their website: www.shangri-la.com/bangkok/shangrila/dining/restaurants/next2.

SHANGRI-LA HOTEL BANGKOK 89 Soi Wat Suan Plu, New Road.