Breakfast and Beds (Hotel Breakfasts -- Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Koh Samui, Thailand)
Time for another Thailand post.
One of the things we got with all of our hotels was "ABF." This means "American Breakfast." Now while I'd like to pretend that we ignored this perk and spent our mornings on my favorite little stools, I'm an actor and actors never give up free food. So we ate the breakfasts. And I have to say that having a little familiarity in your tummy to start the day really helps in your adventures when the day progresses. Here's how they measured up.
Our first hotel was the Montien in Bangkok. This was by the Patpong Market, otherwise known as the red light district, otherwise known as a place where ladies perform an array of impressive feats, such as smoking cigarettes with their cooters. This is not to be confused with the Montien on the River.
Now our Montien had a pretty impressive breakfast in terms of selection, and it wasn't too bad for quality either. Not great, but not bad. It's all buffet style. They seemed to have everything for everyone: eggs, bacon, sausage for us Americans, bangers and mash for the limeys, dim sum for the Chinese, miso soup for the Japanese, Thai specialties for everyone, made to order omelets, potatoes, breads and pastries, cereal, fruit, yogurt, juice, etc. So you could generally find something you liked.
I generally stuck to the yogurt, fruit and toast set. The fruits were tropical, as one might expect, and I got my first taste of dragonfruit. Pink on the outside, white on the inside with little black seeds. I was so happy to find out the origins of my favorite flavor of vitamin water.
All in all, it's a decent breakfast with lots of options. Not gourmet by any means, but it wasn't gross either, and it did the trick. Grade: B.
Our next hotel was the Rachamankha in Chiang Mai. This hotel was our favorite by far. We loved it so much. Their breakfast wasn't too shabby either.
They, too, had a continental spread with yogurt, cereal, fruit, juice, breads and pastries. The only difference was that theirs were of a higher quality. Pastries were still packaged/frozen, so we ignored those, but the rest of the continental spread was experienced a few times over our four day stay.
The Rachamankha (*sigh*, how I love my little Rachamankha), also had table service with made to order items including eggs (any way you like), sausage, bacon, ham, pancakes, french toast or a waffle. Jon typically got eggs, and they were really fresh, really great eggs. The waffle wasn't terrible either. The french toast was well made, but it was made with the bread the Thai seem to like, and I'm not crazy about it (think Wonder Bread with no crusts). Great coffee, tea and fresh squeezed juices (on lucky days, they had guava juice), too. The servers were wonderful, professional and friendly. I almost tried to pack one in my suitcase.
What's more, we got to eat our lovely breakfasts outside every day. Because it was the hot season, the hotel wasn't very full, so on some mornings we had the beautiful little courtyard to ourselves. Complete and total bliss, and quite possibly the best way I've ever started a day. Grade: A.
Next hotel: The Baan Haad Ngam on Koh Samui. Koh Samui was the only place we went that I wouldn't make an effort to return to in the future. The island is extremely tourist oriented and developed now, which was not what we were looking for. It was worth going to for the crazy fun, shoeless cooking class we took, and the kayaking trip to the extraordinary Ang Thong, but having done those things, I don't need to go back. OK, onto breakfast:
The Baan Haad Ngam is a boutique hotel at the northernmost end of Chaweng Beach. Breakfast was outside, looking over the ocean. Nice. The breakfast itself had the usual suspects, but it was not nearly as good as the Rachamankha. It was table service, too, but the service kind of sucked. It was slow and they messed up a few things but it's breakfast so we weren't too concerned about it. The eggs were typically dry, and none of the things we had were remarkable in any way. It was free, so we weren't too concerned about it, but I would have been really disappointed if we had needed to pay for it. Grade: C.
Our last hotel was the gorgeous, fabulous, everything-I-ever-wanted Peninsula Hotel in Bangkok. We were only there for two breakfasts, and with the type of room we had we had the option to either eat at the River Cafe or have room service. We figured we'd do the River Cafe the first morning, and then get room service on the day we were leaving. Once we had eaten at the River Cafe, however, we had to go back the next day and pretty much said to hell with the room service. Fai had encouraged us to eat there even if it hadn't been included and once we did, I could see why. He also told us that it usually costs around $30 US, which is exorbitantly expensive for Thailand.
The River Cafe and Terrace is just how it sounds. It's a restaurant right on the Chao Phraya. I love that muddy river. It has such an incredible life force. Sitting on that terrace in the early morning sunlight before it got completely balls hot ranks as one of the most peaceful moments of my life.
As for the food, it was like the Montien on steroids. Several kinds of yogurt, including the delicious taro flavor, about five different juices, a veritable bakery with fresh (!) pastries, eggs, breakfast meats, french toast, crepes, dim sum, Japanese specialties and some really fantastic Thai specialties as well. It was all buffet style, but the buffet was tended with such care that it was as if it was made to order. And the real slap on the ass was that the food was *really* good. Hands down the best buffet I've been to anywhere. That's not saying much as I, in general, avoid buffets like the plague, but still. It has Vegas' ass kicked all over the place.
The service was impeccable; as soon as we left the buffet area, a server would take our plates and bring them to our tables for us. It was an experience that made me understand what it mean to be waited on hand and foot. Grade: A.
Now if you'll pardon me, I need to get me some breakfast.
"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."