Dusit Thani Crossover Buffet: Umu and Benjarong

Tuesday, April 3, 2012 § 0

April is a very special month for Boyfriend and I. For one, it marks the beginning of summer (hence, his freedom from law school). And of course, it's our birthday month.

Last September, we bought vouchers for Dusit Thani's famous crossover buffet (800 per head from CashCashPinoy, original price is 1,800 per head). We never got the chance to use it earlier this year since we started eating healthy, but it's April, and we have a lot of reasons to celebrate. The Crossover Buffet includes access to all 4 Dusit Thani restaurants. Umu is dim, small and cozy, and very Japanese. Benjarong is a little more spacious, and has authentic Thai fare. Tosca has a fancier setting with fresh pasta, pizza, and all things Italian. Basix, the biggest of the 4, is ideal for big families, and has your usual intercontinental dishes.

There are 4 restaurants to choose from for your "home base". Umu and Basix are in the 1st floor, while Tosca and Benjarong are in the 2nd. We loved the ambiance at Umu, where we stayed, but strategically, the 2nd floor restaurants are a better choice because there are more dishes to indulge in.

Umu is actually quite small. There weren't as many dishes to choose from compared to the other restaurants, but what they lack in numbers, they make up for in the quality of their food. Umu's raw offerings were spectacular. I seriously haven't had salmon sashimi that fresh in a long time. They also have teppanyaki, an assortment of sushi and maki, cold noodles and other savory dishes. Umu serves green iced for refreshments, but you can also ask for a pot of hot green tea.

Just at the top of the stairs awaits Benjarong's authentic Thai offerings. They have a wide range of salads and savory dishes to choose from. I tried the pomelo and shrimp salad, which was light and refreshing with fat and juicy pieces of shrimp. Boyfriend had the crispy catfish salad, which was equally good as well.

We also loved the khao khluk kapi (bagoong rice). It had the perfect balance of sweet and salty, with big chunks of deep fried pork. It was great with the chicken curry and the spicy ginger wings.

What really made Benjarong stand out, in our opinion, was their amazing Pad Thai. It's only cooked upon request by an actual Thai chef, and you can choose to leave out ingredients that you don't want. But hey, she's from Thailand so she definitely knows her noodles. It had an incredible balance of flavors, but if you want a little more acidity on your pad thai, you can always add a few squeezes of lemon. The shrimps were cooked to perfection and we loved the crispy egg bits and crushed peanuts. A little warning though, don't get carried away when eating the pad thai (like we did) because it's quite heavy.

Benjarong also has a spread of Thai desserts that includes sweet sticky rice and mangoes, watercress and coconut milk, Thai jelly, lemon meringue tarts and other pretty delicacies that I can't name. You can also get a glass of their pandan iced tea and bring it to your table.

The photos I took can't really justify the experience we had at Dusit Thani's Crossover Buffet. And this is only half of it! Watch out for my next post on Tosca and Basix. You can call 238-8888 for reservations.

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