We'll have two of everything, thanks.
There’s a lot to love at Capella Bangkok, the urban oasis that opened along the banks of Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River in 2020. The relaxed-but-luxe ambiance brings quiet luxury to life, largely thanks to having just 101 rooms, suites, and villas, which start at a generous 656 square feet. In a bustling city like Bangkok, space and serenity are hard to come by. But at Capella, they’re the standard. There are also daily complimentary wellness and fitness classes, a world-class spa, fantastic views of the river, and a Michelin-starred restaurant from Mauro Colagreco, all on-site. However, what impresses me most about Capella Bangkok is the breakfast service.
I love hotel breakfast. To me, it’s the most important meal at a hotel. From grab-and-go coffee stations to grand buffets, the breakfast service is an extension of the property’s hospitality ethos. So while I don’t often make time for the day’s most important meal when I’m home, I do try to experience it at least once when I’m staying at a hotel.
Born and raised in Manila, I’m familiar with and enjoy heavy, savory meals to get the day going (I’m talking fried rice, fried fish, eggs, and a variety of meat preparations). But I’m also a full-blooded American now, having lived in the great state of New Jersey since 1995. I love bagels stuffed with Taylor ham and fluffy pancakes, too. And then there’s the traveler in me. Yes, bury me in a basket of croissants in Paris, drown me in a bowl of miso soup in Kyoto with grilled salmon as a life vest, and then leave me in a food coma over a bed of chilaquiles in Oaxaca.
At Capella Bangkok, breakfast is in Phra Nakhon, the hotel’s riverfront Thai restaurant. It’s bright, elegant, and modern — the perfect setting for welcoming a brand-new day in Bangkok, where you will eat more than your daily recommended caloric intake in a single hour. The setup is pretty similar to how most luxury hotels organize their breakfast service these days. There are some “buffet” items conveniently laid out on different stations around the restaurant. There’s a table of pastries, for example, where I pick up a freshly baked croissant. Elsewhere, I compose a small bowl of pineapple and mango chunks. I munch on them while sipping a cup of black coffee as I — as if a judge pouring over documents from a high-profile white-collar case — consider the made-to-order menu.
Was this a breakfast menu or a culinary atlas? There's a Japanese section, offerings from the West, Thai flavors, which I later learn are from chef Kannika's grandmother's recipes, dishes with more Chinese inflections, and maybe even other regional items. I'm losing my mind; I want everything. I understand that there are countless grand hotels offering enormous breakfast buffets out there. Here, I was genuinely taken by the variety.
Often, when you're staying at a fabulous hotel in France, you get French food and other Western dishes. When you're staying at a wonderful resort in Los Cabos, you usually get fantastic Mexican fare plus your typical Western dishes. If you're staying in a charming luxury ryokan in Kyoto, you tuck into a Japanese bento feast or ask for the Western dishes. In my experience, it's rare to find a hotel where breakfast is as global as this one at Capella Bangkok. And, let's not forget, many of the dishes are made-to-order. They're not sitting in chafing dishes under the warming light of interrogation-room lamps.
I don't even start slow. But because I already had a croissant, which is flakey, crisp, and buttery, I gave myself permission to go full-throttle on the Asian stuff. I start with omurice, a fluffy and slightly runny Japanese omelet stuffed with bacon-fried rice. Indulgent, right? But also an unusual option that I don't often run into, even in Japan. But I doubled down with a side of sai ua, the spicy pork sausage made popular in Chiang Mai. Is there a more delicious sausage than sai ua? I don't think so. The sausage's aromatic spiciness cuts right through the richness of the omurice so perfectly.
Wait! I see that there's wonton noodle soup on the menu. My mind is beginning to spiral because right now, after my first two "courses," I can move on knowing I've eaten well. But I want the soup. So I start performing what I call glutton math: My flight out of Bangkok tomorrow is at an ungodly 4:30 a.m., which means no breakfast for me. And if I'm to get the full Capella Bangkok experience, I need to take advantage of this opportunity to eat while I can.
I order the soup.
The broth is light and not overly oily, and the wonton wrappers are so delicate that you are mostly really eating the plump prawn stuffing. Truly, barely a dent in my fullness barometer. I feel great about my choice to have the soup. So I start to pack up after I’m told that breakfast is included in my room rate, but not a few seconds later, I see a server approaching with a plate carrying something yellow and white.
“We can’t let you leave without some mango with sticky rice,” he says with a too-huge smile on his face, as if he knows he’s just pushed over the edge.
I love mango with sticky rice, but I didn’t factor it into my fullness budget, because it wasn’t on the menu. I tell the server as such, and he says, “You’re in Thailand. Someone can always quickly make mango with sticky rice.”
Aren’t they clever and efficient? And what’s a boy to do but sit there and order another cup of coffee to go with his breakfast dessert? The Chao Phraya River is nicknamed the River of Kings, and when you’re starting the day staring at its rushing waters from the outdoor patio of the Capella, ravenously sampling every imaginable delicacy from the breakfast menu, well, it’s easy to feel like royalty.
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