I know what you’re thinking: chocolate? in Bangkok? It’s true. And what chocolate it is!
I first visited the chocolate buffet while doing my graduate research in Thailand in 2005. A friend of mine who worked at the American Embassy in Bangkok told me about it, and one visit was all it took to hook me for life.
In the gorgeous Sukhothai hotel, just south of Lumphini Park, the Chocolate Buffet is a high tea buffet served every Friday-Sunday from 2-6 pm in the hotel lobby. As it is a high tea, you are served a pot of tea of your choosing (I recommend the earl grey or the darjeeling) and/or coffee. When I first asked for water, i was pleasantly surprised to receive instead lemongrass water–a deliciously refreshing palate cleanser that is now one of my favorite drinks.
There are two buffet tables–one sweet and one savory–on either side of the lobby. The savory side has amazing bite-sized sandwiches like green apple and brie on pretzel bread, roasted veggies on tomato-pesto bread, and salmon and dill on mini croissants. There is a modest selection of simple but fresh sushi (rolls of cucumber, tuna, salmon) along with plentiful fresh wasabi, and two rotating asian savory dishes such as shu mai or spring rolls or satay. All of this is peppered with fresh fruit like mangosteen, rambutan, pineapple, and the best passionfruit around.
The sweet side has traditional high-tea sweets like sticky toffee pudding and scones. But you know you’re not in Kansas anymore when you see the passionfruit jam. The kid in you will delight at the 3 silver urns of house made ice cream, and the adventurous gourmand in you will delight at finding out that the yellow-orange one is indeed pumpkin, and that’s not vanilla, but white chocolate with olive. This latter daring flavor is representative of the risks the creators of the chocolate buffet are willing to take: alongside traditional bonbons, you find panna cotta in individual shot glasses: cream on top and chocolate on the bottom infused with red chili. Next to a flourless chocolate torte, you find a cross between a chocolate and a fudge topped with sea salt. There are several flavors of macaroons, and countless other chocolate cakes.
But the crowning glory to the whole thing is the chocolate cart. It has about 16 types of chocolate including 2 types of gianduja, and ranges from white chocolate all the way thru 100% cacao. Each individual bowl holds bite-sized chocolate nibs you can taste, and all are labelled with their cocoa percentage and origin. The cart is manned by an attendant who will take whatever chocolate/s you choose, combine them in a pot with milk, and melt them together to serve you a chocolate shot. Hi. A chocolate shot. HEAVEN.
The last time I went, the cost was Bt 800++ which comes out to about US$25. A little pricey, but worth every penny. If I ever manage to earn more than a grad student salary, I plan to treat myself to a stay at the hotel on a weekend so that I can enjoy the buffet and then collapse in my luxurious room in a glorious chocolate coma.