Words: Han Sen Hau Photos: Monica Tindall
We have been misled. There we were, at The Lobby, sheltered from the tropical storm, surrounded by muffled chatter and the clinking of glasses, thinking that the only items we had to go through for brunch would be the light nibbles delicately displayed on the unique-looking tiered tray that simply screamed “photo opportunity”. That was until our host dropped by with a charming smile and informed us the nibbles were just the appetisers. Past the jaw-drops and wide-eyed amusement, I turned around to notice (how could I have been so blind?) the live cooking stations, a smorgasbord of fresh seafood, a chocolate extravaganza buffet… We’ve been surrounded!
I’ve made the terrible mistake of having breakfast before our time at The Lobby, so while I may have a huge appetite, my excitement for the amount of options I had for brunch was juxtaposed against my panic for the amount of options I had for brunch. Beads of sweat were already beginning to form on my forehead, so I quickly ordered refreshments to calm myself… which may also have been an oversight since who fills their tummies with liquids before diving into a meal? But the Lychee Tea came so heavily recommended by our waitress, both for its flavour and presentation, that I succumbed to the offer. True enough, the tea was a delight to look at with three ice spheres in varying shades of pink swirling in the glass, and you also get to control its sweetness as the lychee syrup is served separately.
Once I’ve cooled down a little, I assessed my challenge for the day: four tiers of exquisite bite-sized creations. Each of these items were a delight in their own way, but I’ll highlight the ones that really stood out tier-by-tier, beginning with the salmon served with mango cubes in spoons at the top, which were divine just tossing around in my mouth. When in Thailand, if you see mangoes mixed in with anything, you know it’s bound to be a hit, though the pieces of salmon pulled their own weight too with their soft and juicy texture. Next up were the Bloody Mary Oysters that did wonders to stimulate the appetite with their savoury, umami profile. They were right to serve these in shots and everything went down quickly and smoothly.
For the second tier, we were tantalised by really good Camembert, thin cuts of Parma ham and spicy Chorizo, relishes, pickles, and caramelised walnuts. Many of the items on this tier go well with each other, and my personal favourite was the Camembert with the walnuts. Though had they served some crackers on the side, I would have happily commenced and concluded brunch with them and the cheese. The cold cuts were lovely too, especially the Chorizo with its gradual heat creeping from the back to the roof of the palate.
Moving down to tier three, we have some sugary pastries. In retrospect, I wished I had asked for coffee to go with these The pastries didn’t have a sheen of butter coating them, which is how I prefer them lest I skip the rest of brunch, but the Heliconia-shaped bread was a little too tough for a person with delicate teeth like me.
Lastly, we have desserts at the bottom tier. The panna cotta was a standard classic, and I really enjoy all the berries tossed into this one. The mini coconut bowl of fruits, however, was the runaway victor with its presentation and adorable fruit spheres. This was something we took out from the tray for later simply because it was too pretty to eat, and we realised we still had two main entrées to get to in addition to sampling food from the other stations around the Lobby.
We had seven options to choose from off the à la carte menu, and we settled with the Organic Pumpkin Risotto and the Treasure of the Sea (how could I resist a dish with a name like that?).The risotto, with its incredible variety of wild mushrooms, dried cherry tomatoes, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, was the better option of the two. Considering what we’ve had (and will have, judging by the looks of the other cooking stations), the risotto is a light option for brunch with a pleasurable mouthfeel and chewy consistency.
The Treasure of the Sea, on the other hand, features two incredibly thick and juicy scallops crowned with thinly sliced pieces of Chorizo, one large tiger prawn, crabmeat, and some asparagus spears in wraps. All the shellfish served on the plate were incredible and I am perfectly comfortable eating them on their own, but the dish actually comes with a lobster bisque emulsion that’s poured on the plate with the rest of the ingredients and I wished I had asked the waitress to serve it on the side instead. The score for this dipped a little because the emulsion overpowers the palate with a really briny tang, ultimately coating your taste buds with it and preventing you from enjoying the fresh seafood. Aside from that, it isn’t difficult to see why this dish would be called Treasure of the Sea.
Taking a much needed break from all the eating we’ve done, we ordered a glass of The Peninsula’s house champagne, a very dry and fizzy bubbly that evaporates off the tongue, and kicked back for a moment to enjoy our surroundings against the sound of live jazz music behind us. The storm outside has subsided somewhat, allowing some sunlight to penetrate the large windows and bathing the space with its warmth, illuminating some of the activity happening at The Lobby, like a little child playing hide-and-seek under the table with the chocolate buffet, the main attraction right in the middle of The Lobby, drawing the attention of wide-eyed waitress staring at the face of impending catastrophe as the child dangerously hugged the slender table legs, before his mother came over to save the day by luring him back to their table.
At the conclusion of that amusing scene, we then continued brunch by exploring the live cooking stations. A trip round these stations would reward you with a full course meal, depending on how hungry you are and whether or not you stop to pick a chocolate tart on the way back to your table. We begin with a Caesar salad made decadent with pork crackling and bacon thrown in the mix, before securing a bowl of lobster soup. Everything on the salad was crunchy, from the lettuce leaves, to the croutons and of course, the pork crackling that I wouldn’t mind stuffing into a bag and whipping them out as a snack when I’m exploring temple ruins. While I was a little hesitant with the lobster soup because of my earlier experience with the lobster bisque emulsion, the soup turned out to be great and intensely enjoyable with the accompanying bread.
The seafood buffet was impressive, with its large selection of lobsters, tiger prawns, Alaska king crabs, and an assortment of oysters that would satisfy even the most discerning of connoisseurs. Like the shellfish I had from the Treasure of the Sea, all of them were incredibly fresh so if cholesterol is the least of your concerns, I’d recommend you take full advantage of this.
Next, we brought back a delightful bowl of wild mushroom pasta and the crowd favourite Peking duck from the hotel’s famed Cantonese restaurant, Mei Jiang. The wild mushroom pasta was pretty impressive considering the different kinds of mushrooms they’ve thrown in this, much like the earlier Organic Pumpkin Risotto. I love the sauce’s consistency in this and how they’ve used Penne pasta for it; were I hungrier, I would’ve gone for a second bowl. As for the Peking duck, it is something you absolutely have to go to make your brunch all the more worthwhile. They only serve the best park of the duck, its crispy skin, and I love mine in a simple wrap instead of the bun so I get more of the flavour. I don’t deny that I’ve had thoughts to whisk away the entire plate of Peking duck for myself…
I’m a little ashamed to admit that this was one of the very rare times where I didn’t get to revel in the desserts because of how bloated I was, especially when they involve a plethora of chocolate desserts arranged so splendidly in the middle of the room, sharing the allure of a fantastic ice sculpture at weddings. The inner child in me rebelled despite my engorged belly, and I submitted by going for their fun-looking chocolate and mint marshmallow swirl that I mistook for a decoration. A treat that’s bound to be a hit with kids, because of its chewy consistency, and parents for its nostalgic, Christmassy appeal.
In the end, we concluded brunch looking like we’ve ploughed through a very fancy buffet with no regrets. If you’re ever coming to The Peninsula for “Sundays at the Pen”, which is what the hotel is branding their Sunday brunch, be sure to arrive hungry as you have plenty to work with. Aside from the obviously comfortable environment along with gorgeous vistas of the Chao Phraya river and the city beyond, you’re getting more than what you’ve paid for brunch at The Lobby.
Reasons to visit: Wide variety of food options for brunch; great place to dine with friends, family, or even as a couple; the seafood buffet; that exceptional Peninsula service and hospitality that leaves you warm and comfortable throughout your meal.
“Sundays at the Pen” – The Lobby
The Peninsula Bangkok
333 Charoennakorn Road, Klongsan
Bangkok, 10600, Thailand
+662 626 1846
– THB 2,200++ per person
including free-flowing freshly squeezed juices, soft drinks and Peninsula iced tea
– THB 3,200++ per person
including one bottle of Louis Roederer for two persons (valued at THB 8,900++ per <
– THB 5,300++ per person
including one bottle of Louis Roederer Cristal for two persons (valued at THB
39,000++ per bottle)