Like HCMC today, the Bangkok foreigner scene of old thrived close to the river. These days, however, I never really think to set foot down there. It’s the kind of place you visit once, the first time you come to the city… King’s Palace, check. Emerald & Reclining Buddha, check. Either the Oriental or Shangrila for tea or brunch, check. Then for most who live in the city (unless they work nearby) the river is a distant memory. This has more to do with the difficulty and time it takes to get down to the river than what’s on offer. But, if you wait till Sunday brunch time, with no traffic… the other side of the river is accessible in about 20 minutes tops and you don’t even have to wait for a ferry. This is the perfect time to venture out to Trader Vic’s massive brunch/lunch buffet spread.
Trader Vic’s is… well Trader Vics. Check out their pages if you don’t already know. Sure they’re a chain, but so are Four Seasons and Orientals. And they can be a bit dated in decoration style… unless you still rock a photographer’s vest, the sandal and sock look, cargo khaki shorts, or all of the above. But ignoring all that, this place has some great food.
I was seriously floored by the selection and availability of foods here. I walked in and saw immediately to my left a sushi bar complete with fresh sashimi and rolls. The quality of the fish was high for a buffet and featured real tuna… deep red and not neon pink like most of the cheap sushi buffets. Nearby there was also an oyster and caviar bar with freshly shucked oysters and a wide sampling of exotic caviar.
Then to my immediate right I saw not one, but two beautifully cured pig legs. I loved the Italian sausage and meat section and ate more than my fair share of prosciutto, mortadella, and others.
Next… well it’s Southeast Asia and we have seafood in abundance. Trader Vic’s has it fresh and ready to hit the grill. Fresh crabs, prawns, lobsters, and fillets of fish are available for grilling… mmm.
Speaking of grilling, Trader Vic’s pulls a trained Benihana chef over for the lunch feast. Here you can have a steak (or other meat, but really with steak are you gonna have chicken?) expertly cooked and cut in front of you. Sadly they don’t toss prawns in your mouth while waiting in line, but it’s a free bonus that’s very welcome.
Then there’s some beautiful meats sliced freshly at the carving table. Yup, that was a bone in ribeye in the background there with fresh sauces.
A first for me at a foreigner friendly Sunday eating extravaganza – roast duck. I’m not Peking Duck expert, but the birds on offer here were nearly as crispy and succulent as the lauded Made in China… and best of all it was part of a buffet so I was free to come and go as I pleased (and I pleased a lot )
Then there was the cheese spread. I loved the layout, thoughtfully done on a tree log. It featured cheeses of many regions and styles. The accompanying real honey comb honey was a nice touch to the section.
Another notable station was the Som Tam station – fresh ingredients pounded to order.
Last but certainly not least was the pastry spread. There’s a well skilled and happy to produce patissier somewhere in the kitchen here. Pastries ranged from delicate small bites to French classic cakes. Also there was a range of seemingly home made ice cream on offer (not pictured).
Trader Vics really surprised me. I’ve visited some epic buffet spreads and this one sits near the top of the list. Not only is there a ton on offer, the price is super reasonable as you can opt in or out of the booze. I can’t believe the amount and quality of food I was able to enjoy for under 50 USD (around 1700 THB). I’d recommend it highly to anyone… whether first time Bangkok traveler looking to explore the river area or jaded expat needing a break from the Four Seasons or Sukhothai brunches.
Bangkok Marriott Resort & Spa
257 Charoennakorn Road
Thornburi, Bangkok 10600
Tel: 66 (0) 2476 0022
Fax: 66 (0) 2476 1120