Many tourists come to Bangkok curious about the exotic fruit for sale — and durian usually takes center stage in their hunt for something new and different. One hotel, the Baiyoke Sky Hotel, is even accommodating the lust for durian with an uncommon buffet: all-you-can-eat fruit-based dishes, desserts, and fresh durian at the property’s 18th floor, for THB390 (US$12) per person.
This is also a solid choice for locals. Certain fruits, like durian, can be pricey– with packs of two sections on the street going for THB200 (US$6) and more than THB300 (US$9) in grocery stores. Considered that way, you can get some serious value at this buffet.
And they don’t serve just sliced fruit. They have a smattering of prepared dishes as well like Durian Red Curry, Fruit Somtam, Mango Tapioca, and Durian Custard. Guests can wash it down with free-flow coconut water or fruit punch. Salt and chili powder are available on each table.
A word of caution, however: They charge THB500 (US$15) — more than the price of the buffet itself — as a kind of penalty for leaving uneaten food behind, so, unless you want to get slammed with a big bill, only take what you can actually eat.
The fruit “chefs” at Baiyoke go heavy on the labor too. For example, they spend a lot of time cutting hearts out of sliced watermelon, only to fill the heart-shaped holes with other pieces of yellow watermelon that taste pretty much the same.
Travel and food vlogger — and last year’s Coconuts Yumfest Chili Eating Champion, Jason Rupp — is a big fan of the buffet and we caught up with him to chat about it.
Check out his experience of the buffet here:
Though the buffet is open year-round, it’s — in a fact that won’t surprise fruit buffs — most popular during peak durian season (May-June) when reservations are required as many as three weeks in advance, according to Rupp, who called the buffet “peaceful” outside of that frenzied window.
His insider tip is that, if you’re desperate for it, you can go hang out at the restaurant in hopes of getting a “stand-by” seat if someone with a reservation doesn’t show up. He also says that the durian red curry is heavenly.
As far as strategy, the 1.5 hour window is strictly enforced, so guests need to go in with a plan if they want to get the most value. Rupp coaches would-be fruit buffet-goers to concentrate on eating. “The main thing to remember is to not talk much. Don’t sit there chatting away, just eat.”
He says he’s previously observed groups of Thai men eating only plates and plates of durian. He also advises: “Pass on the fruit punch and drink the fresh coconut water, skip the watermelon and eat the passion fruit, pass on the oranges and eat the pomelos, skip the rice with curry, and save space for mango sticky rice. And for chrissake, don’t eat the bananas – eat more durian!”
He explained that, because so many people are both fascinated by and scared of durian due to its smell — and most of the clientele are tourists who haven’t had the stinky king of fruits before — they give visitors a small piece first so they can decide if they want to take a whole plate and risk the uneaten food fine.
As far as ambience, there isn’t much. There is a nice view, but otherwise, the mid-range hotel breakfast buffet setup is what it most resembles. As for the soundtrack? The constant sound of the staff hacking open durians is what’s playing on repeat here.
However, visitors have said that, unlike most buffets that end with long naps and shame spirals, people report feeling amazing after eating at a fruit buffet.
Fruit Buffet at Baiyoke Sky Hotel
222 Ratchaprarop Rd.
Open daily, 9am-9pm
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