Pla Thong Buffet
If you haven’t heard of a Thai BBQ before, your life is about to change. It’s an all you can eat meat buffet, where you get to cook your own food! Cook your own food? That sounds like work.. and who wants to do work on their vacation? If you’re looking for a fun and interactive night out, with some of Thailand’s undeniably best marinated meaty goodness, it’s well worth the little effort you need to put in… and for 129 Baht (less than USD $5 per person), you can’t really go wrong.
What is a Thai BBQ?
Many countries in South Eastern Asia have variations on this concept such as Cambodian BBQs, and the world famous Korean BBQs. These social events take place in open air restaurants (the ventilation is needed when there’s upwards of 200 coal or mini gas bbqs going at once). Each table has a small conical Bar-b-que placed in the centre of the table, usually good for up to 4 guests. More than 4 guests, will just require another Thai BBQ. Buffet tables are often found in the centre or the room, or off to one side, and are covered in an assortment of Marinating raw meats. The meat is thinly sliced already, and often has an abundance of selection available. In addition to this, the Thai BBQ has a dip at the base, which is filled with a soup base. This allows a place to boil noodles and veggies which gain flavour from the meat drippings which find themselves floating at the top of the soup broth. This allows you to feel slightly less carnivorous in your primarily meat-based Thai BBQ diet… slightly.These are popular amongst tourists and locals alike, though when on the lookout for one, it’s usually best to choose one which is packed with locals. When in Rome, after all.. the Thais will know which is the best quality and best value. This brings us to the restaurant in question. It’s attention was brought to me by a local foodie, of who’s opinion I have quickly grown to trust when it comes to gastronomical questions.
Pla Thong Buffet is a Thai BBQ situated only a block away from the Victory Monument in Central Bangkok. This makes it very accessible, by either the BTS Sky Train, or the local Bus services (as this is where countless routes start and end their journey). This massive open-air Thai BBQ was bustling with what looked could be over 100 tables, each with 4 seats and I’d say about 80% of the restaurant was full! Centred in the back of the huge hall was a mighty meat, noodle, veggie and dessert buffet tables. The smell of the Thai BBQ’s filled the streets even before entering the restaurant. I knew I was in for a treat.
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Often service something overlooked at a buffet style restaurant, since a buffet is really a self serve ordeal, but the Pla Thong Buffet has got it down to an art. Very quickly clearing tables, and helping patrons get their party started, it’s clear that this place has become a favourite amongst locals for reasons beyond the appealing price. Our glasses were never empty (and neither were our bellies). All it will require is a quick and simple wave to one of the waiters, who may not be hovering over your tables throughout the night, but stand readily on guard for people in need of service. At one stage in the night, we had already eaten so much Thai BBQ meaty goodness that our propane ran out in our little gas range, and with a quick raise of the eyebrows and a nod of the head, our propane was replaced faster than a trip up to the meat buffet to refill our dishes!
This should be a bit of a no brainer. Although it’s true, you may be able to find a full course of street pad thai for 30 Baht (roughly one US Dollar), you won’t be able to get the variety of food offered. Keeping in mind, even if you’re not one with a HUGE appetite, this is still cheaper than a McDonald’s happy meal, and far healthier, if not a much more fun experience.
As mentioned, this is a cook-it-yourself experience, meaning you should always get the perfect doneness of each cut of meat! With an extensive buffet selection, there should really be something for everyone!
- The cold meat table contained roughly 20 different cuts, ranging from various cuts of pork, chicken, fish, and squid. They were all marinating in different Thai sauces, each enough to be worthy of a meal in themselves.
- Another steam-table buffet was serving up pre-cooked items ranging from french fries (chips to you British folk.. or freedom fries for our American friends. hehe), chicken nuggets, sugar cane meat balls, green (yes green) spaghetti, rice noodles and more.
- Yet another table had an assortment of veggies and greens to accompany the soup base. A separate steam oven was full of delicious Thai-style steam buns.
- My personal favourite is the hot-sauce table which had several different chili and Thai BBQ sauces for dipping your cooked meat into.
- There was a Thai BBQ Maestro who was working his own grill and serving some pre-cooked shish kababs, and pork chunks, which were a great snack while you waited for your meat to cook…
- Last but not least, of course, the dessert table, which was full of fruit and Thai classic desserts (if you have absolutely any room to spare after you’ve successfully gotten to the point of meat-sweats from over eating!)
Of course, the thing that makes any meal truly worth while is the company you share it with. Poor company could make a Prime Rib Roast taste like day old gruel. This isn’t necessarily a solo-traveller’s first choice – though we did see a few solo-souls dining alone while there, the whole process of cooking the meal promotes conversation while waiting for the meat to reach perfection.I was fortunate enough to share it with some great new friends – and the laughs were as endless as the supply of meat! With no real time limit, the only thing which will put a limit on your fun is running out of notches on your belt while there.It’s fun, it’s messy, it’s noisy, it’s delicious.
This was quite possibly the best 129 Baht I’ve spent in Bangkok to date, and will definitely frequent this restaurant on my future time here in the city.
Have you ever been to a Thai BBQ before? If so, where was it, and what was your experience like? Have you found any better deals on all-you-can-eat in and around Bangkok? Share your favourites here!