Buffet on the Chao Phraya
Lord Jim's offers the finest selection of Thai and Western dishes with great service to match
If the term "buffet" sounds like a mass-produced feast and the opposite of fine dining, Lord Jim's cuisine does not fit the bill.
However, if the word means ample culinary options as is the case at its lunch buffet, it epitomises how a first-class smorgasbord should be.
Lord Jim's was the first 5-star establishment in Bangkok to offer a lunch buffet after opening in 1976.
I visited last week for a weekend lunch. The 100-seater has just reopened after four months due to a citywide lockdown mandate.
Taking my first step into the premises, I felt a new sense of enthusiasm and joy after seeing the happy staff and nicely presented displays of food.
By the end of the meal, I told myself: "I have to spread the good news to others."
Although I've lately discouraged family and friends from visiting buffet joints, I was excited to change my stance.
The price for a weekend feast is 3,200 baht per adult and it is quite a good deal considering what you get in terms of culinary options.
The weekend offering has more options than the weekday buffet, which costs 2,350 baht per person.
On the Saturday I visited, more than 100 items were on offer.
Along the long foyer, there's a seafood bar where Canadian lobster, Hokkaido king crab legs, tiger prawn, river prawn and New Zealand mussels -- all very fresh -- were on display in a neatly-carved ice shelf.
centre Pan-seared French foie gras with mango sauce.
Just beside it, three varieties of fresh oysters from France were on offer with a selection of Western classic and local-styled condiments.
Meanwhile, a Japanese corner featured various selections of freshly-made sushi and sashimi that boasted the sweet quality of imported seafood delicacies, including chutoro (fatty tuna), hamachi (yellowtail fish), tai (sea bream), salmon, engawa (fluke's fin), ebi shrimp, Hokkaido scallops, red clam and octopus.
Impeccably crafted golden-hued shrimp and vegetable tempura were also available at the deep-fry station.
The pasta station, helmed by Ciao Terrazza's Italian chef de cuisine, featured dishes such as black-ink spaghetti seafood with bisque sauce; penne salmon with vodka reduction cream; and pasta seafood volare as well as oven-baked lasagna Bolognese.
Pan-seared French foie gras, the restaurant's speciality, served with balsamic reduction and mango or apple sauce and roasted Wagyu beef prime ribs with Yorkshire pudding and beef jus are the two items you should not miss.
There was also roasted Australian lamb rack; house-cured ham glazed with organic mulberry honey; Nordic-styled salmon gravlax; salted-baked seabass with avruga caviar; and 36-month Iberico ham from Spain.
In 2019, Lord Jim's underwent a major renovation and relaunched in 2020 with a modernised interior and culinary concept. A dynamic open kitchen, equipped with josper grills, helped demonstrate the restaurant's new push to be a destination for prime cut grill. Thus, charcoal-grilled steak and seafood are also a must-have here.
The selection of cheese was also impressive. There was truffled Brillat-Savarin, Mont d'or AOP, Tomme de Savoie, Douceur De La Brie and Gruyère de Comté from Les Frères Marchand, France's leading affineur, as well as locally-produced options from an artisan cheesemaker in Chiang Rai.
Desserts were also provided in abundance.
Other than the legendary crepe Suzette and ever-popular apple crisp and mango sticky rice, there was also bread and butter pudding with raisin, panna cotta and various kinds of miniature cakes and tarts.
To showcase its generosity, there's also a la carte menu of Thai and Western dishes cooked to order that guests can enjoy as much as they'd like.
Highlights of the Western selection includes Lousiana cajun seafood boiled with corn and potatoes; gratinated seafood termidor served in scallop shell; BBQ baby pork ribs with baked potato; lobster bisque cappuccino with fish quenelle; sautéed blue-lip mussels in a herb white wine sauce with garlic bread; and mushroom risotto with black truffle butter.
The Thai menu, prepared by Sala Rim Naam's head chef, includes local favourites such as tom yum goong; slowed-braised duck leg with fresh herbs and coconut cream; khanom jeen naam ya (fermented rice noodles with minced fish curry); beef phad kaphraow; chicken green curry; crab curry with wild betel leaves; and fried noodles topped with minced chicken, Nonthaburi citrus and banana blossom.
Above Sautéed mussels in white wine sauce with garlic bread.
Every single dish I had, both from the menu and buffet, during this three-hour lunch, was on point. Service, a blend of genuine cordiality and 5-star expertise, made the gastronomic experience even more memorable.
Currently, Lord Jim's is operating at 50% seating capacity in order to follow Covid-19 control guidelines.
Its interior design is inspired by a living hall on a luxury yacht, complemented by a panoramic view of the Chao Phraya River.
Lord Jim's is located on the 1st level of Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok. It opens for lunch buffet from noon to 2.30pm (Wednesday to Friday) and 11.30am to 3pm (Saturday, Sunday and public holidays).
Lousiana cajun seafood boiled with corn and potatoes.