Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wasting money at Dusit Thani Hotel Bangkok

While on our way to finding dinner one evening, my parents decided to make a quick stop over at Dusit Thani Bangkok, a 5 star hotel located in the heart of downtown Bangkok.  My family has been visiting the hotel frequently ever since my sisters and I were little.  Last year, the hotel suffered heavily from the civil unrest and has renovated since.  We were off to a bad start that night just by pulling into the parking lot.  As my dad signalled his car to park for a spot, the parking lot security let a Mercedes that came out of nowhere after us to steal our spot instead.  I think we were all frustrated and wanted to start a riot, or at least say something. But since we didn't think it was worth our time, especially when the parking security seemed to be absolutely clueless and oblivious, we brushed it off and walked down to Dusit Gourmet to pick up some breakfast sandwiches.  While I love their delicious seafood and prociutto sandwiches, I remember hating the arrogant, indifferent customer (no) service based on our experiences ever since the previous year I was visiting.  Basically, once their gourmet bakery goes on sale at a certain time (whenever they feel like), they start treating customers like second class citizens instead.  Alas, I was still standing there, waiting to get those yummy sandwiches for half price and receiving the usual cold attitude service.

Dusit Gourmet


Despite lack of service, their salmon and prawn sandwiches remain scrumptious 

Prociutto and roasted vegetables on sesame bagels

smoked salmon and prawn salad with cornmeal bread

As usual, we were turned down with them saying that it wasn't the right time yet.  While we were waiting for the cashier and staff to make up their mind, my mom and I decided to go check out the Pavilion, an international buffet restaurant located on the same floor of the hotel.  After a quick look, the food looked descent in the eyes of a starved family.  Judgements were made on a quick glance, and I managed to convince my parents to give the buffet there a try.  For 1,401 bath ($47) pp, the price would be reasonable if the quality of the food and service match the number of stars the hotel has.   Lets take a glance of what captivated us initially.

The Pavilion

Carrot soup
Salad bar
My very own custom rocket salad with anchovies

Seared tuna in dijon mustard and roe
Roast beef wrapped asparagus and tomato in jus

Bacon wrapped sausage in Sriracha hot sauce, too easy???
More appies!
Duck breast with hummus

If you remember my salmon canapes post, I'm a sucker for bite-size, pretty looking hors d'oeuvres and anything in shooter glass.  I think the Pavilion has more impressive selection of appetizers than entrees.   Most are elegant and tasty, while some (such as the bacon wrapped sausage in hot sauce) could also be found in elementary school cafeteria.  

Traditional Thai appetizers
Som Tum papaya salad station
I tried most of the Thai appetizers, and was disappointed that they were left cold and hard, some were tasteless.  We were also told that some of the appetizers such as the dumplings were bought and not made in-house.  I would imagine that if I were a foreigner trying Thai appetizers for the first time, I wouldn't be impressed.  It is crucial that more attention to quality control be placed most especially when serving Thai cuisine to foreigners, especially in a 5 star hotel restaurant with Le Cordon Bleu school situated at the front of the hotel.  
Japanese station with sushi and sashimi
Maki rolls

Cold soba noodles
There isn't much to write about the Japanese selection.  There were basic maki rolls and small cuts of sashimi.  Some were drying out as they had been sitting for a while.  Compared to the Atrium at Landmark hotel, the selections are limited and very basic, something you can find at a 3 star hotel.
Assortment of caviar
The station of caviar was probably the most luxurious and what I enjoyed the most next to the seafood.  The caviar types were of lower grade and less costly than sturgeon roe. Along with toppings and creme fraiche, different types of caviar offered include salmon, flying fish, capelin, whitefish, and trout.

Seafood were served cold, cocktail style, and included rock lobsters, mussels, shrimp, river prawns, scallops, crab, squid, and raw oysters.  The oyster were small, but very fresh.  I almost forgot about other hot entrees and just indulged on the seafood and caviar instead.  

Roast beef and broiled lamb

Prawn to be sauteed by order

Barbecue duck and pork station
Noodle station
Kao Mun Kai (Boiled chicken and garlic rice)
Accompanying soup
Thai dishes
Frog legs baked with herb and butter
Since frogs freak me out, I was too scared to try the legs.  But I did try the lamb stew, the only entree that looked appealing, and it was delicious.
Lamb stew

Steamed seafood
The steamed seafood was even tastier than the seafood cocktail, just because they were served fresh and hot.  I really enjoyed the river prawn, and the meat was so succulent.  As you may have noticed, I didn't take many pictures of the hot food or entrees because they were that plain.  
Oh look, more cheese and caviar....
Traditional Thai desserts

European desserts
Fresh fruits

Green tea and rum raisin ice cream
Ending things off with Earl Grey

The verdict - Are the managers paying attention?

With each less than stella experience we received at Dusit Thani, we begin to feel less inclined to returning.  Don't get me wrong, the food was not terrible, but we all agreed that the overall selection and taste were comparable to a 3 star hotel.  It simply wasn't worth the value.  At times, we felt neglected with the service with servers hiding behind a pole when the restaurant was absolutely dead. There were times when our family friend had exhausted all means of getting their attention; waving, calling, clapping (making more noises), more calling.  We've definitely received more attention at much more casual, lower-price restaurants that was 5 times busier.  Also as mentioned earlier, more passion should be placed in crafting fine Thai cuisine at 5 star hotels especially when they are being served to foreigners on a daily basis.  While some dishes were excellent, the overall experience at the Pavilion was mediocre at best.  Some aspects of the dishes were missing such as flavours, temperature, and freshness.  Though the buffet price of $45 is not considered high in North America, it is considered overpriced compared to other competing 5 star hotel chain buffet restaurants that we have been to.  We most likely won't be returning to the Pavilion in the near future.


  1. great review! I`ve never been in the nicer hotels in Thailand (we`re always in a cheaper traveler`s hostel) but I have been tempted to try a hotel restaurant....it looks like I`ll stick to getting my lunch and dinner from street food vendors! Theresa

  2. Theresa,
    This one was just a bad apple out of the bunch. Some hotel restaurants are actually exceptional. When you do come back, I recommend the Atrium at Landmark hotel which tastes great and is a very reasonable price!

  3. Thanks a lot for the good article.

  4. Thats is really stupid article. First you like to eat for half price and then later complain - for what. Food is looking really nice. I think you got a bad day to make this comments.
    I love Dusit Thani Hotel - especially food with high standart and not crapy cheap thinks just looks nice.

    1. Hi Anonymous, Thanks for the comment. Though I didn't enjoy the food at the the Pavillion, I have tried other restaurants at Dusit Hotel that were quite good. I wrote the post based on my dining experience and how they tasted. I paid full price and I felt that the quality just didn't live up to the expectation. Just because the food "looks really nice" doesn't mean they necessarily taste good. And it's not just my perception that the hot food was left cold. Secondly, just because I do like finding discount on good food, doesn't mean I can't tell the difference between good food and bad food. I can very much afford to pay for the expensive meal, should its quality matches its price. Have you heard of "value"? If you feel that the Pavillion is the best ever place to have your buffet, then that is your opinion and that is mine. But I highly suggest you go dine out more :)

    2. especially food with high standart and not crapy cheap thinks just looks nice.
      I'm sorry, the last part didn't make any sense