In 2006, we took our very first trip to Southeast Asia, living in a little bit of luxury with my high paying lawyer job, with seemingly endless years of increased salary and bonus. Of course, for this trip, we would have to stay at the Peninsula Hotel Bangkok, right on the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok. We had a balcony room, overlooking the river and the city lights. We had a tailor deliver our newly made suits to our room. I watched reruns of Friends from the bathtub, a tiny screen inset into the wall just above my feet and all of the luxurious bath bubbles. We dined on high end Thai food overlooking the river.
Now, our trips to Bangkok often revolve around searching out great street eats, but occasionally a little luxury is warranted. Every once in awhile I like to go back to being that fancy person staying in a luxury hotel (although, I never want to go back to the job, just the salary that afforded me the luxury).
The Luxury of the Bangkok Riverside Dining
When we heard about the Bangkok Riverside Dining Experience, we thought we would have the chance to be fancy in Bangkok once again. During December, the Bangkok Riverside Dining Experience allows foodies to experience 25 different fine dining restaurants, all located along the famous Chao Phraya, at reduced prices. Three course, set dinner menus, are only 999 Thai Baht per person, or about $30 USD.
Just choosing among the 25 participating restaurants was hard, but Eric choose a return to the Peninsula. We came full circle on our Bangkok riverside dining. We pulled up to the hotel and it seemed so different from what we remembered. It was like nothing was the same. I am sure, though, that the hotel has remained the same, but we have changed. It reminded me of going back to my high school after I graduated. Everything seemed different, smaller, but really, it was I who had changed.
We arrived at Mei Jiang just before 7pm. An elegant wedding reception was underway outside of the window, on the patio overlooking the river. All of the diners at Mei Jiang were as enthralled as I was watching the wedding unfold. Our server was entirely friendly, and not at all pretentious, as is often the case in hotel restaurants. He walked us through the menu, gently prodding us to choose his favorites from the selections.
We started with an amuse bouche of a fried pork ball with sweet and sour sauce, while we sipped cocktails. I chose a Lychee martini, but Eric’s drink was also equally pink.
We shared our appetizers of roasted duck and barbecue pork, a Chinese favorite, along with a fried, spiced lobster and mango roll.
As we were gently prodded into our main course selection, which was fine as it was what we would have chosen anyway, we each enjoyed a tender and juicy wok fried diced beef tenderloin, with shaved garlic in a black pepper paste.
We also did not have much of a choice for dessert, although I was happy our server did not recommend the flavored tofu dessert. I don’t think Eric would have appreciated that much. We shared deep-fried banana fritters along with a chilled sago, or tapioca pudding, with pomelo in mango cream. Anything mango related is all right by me, but this sago was amazing: cool and refreshing after the richness of the tenderloin.
The luxury dining experience was nice. We dressed up for dinner for a chance, and returned to a hotel that meant something so different for us eight years ago. We got to dine riverside, overlooking the fame Chao Phraya.
Most important, a portion of the proceeds of the Bangkok Riverside Dining Experience will fund future river clean up activities, which is certainly a worthy cause.
We were hosted by the Riverside Dining Experience for this dinner, but yummy sounds, as always, are my own.
For more luxury dining tips and stories, check out our Luxury Travel Guide.