Dining with the Starz

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The Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya has remained an icon in our local hotels. Having been extensively renovated many years ago from the original Merlin Hotel, the Hard Rock has managed to maintain a “hip” image, right the way through from rock stars in the toilets to bouncy effervescent staff giving you a ‘feel good’ aura just walking into the place.

I believe everyone will know just where the Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya is situated – Second Road, on the left after the Montien, around 100 meters from the central Pattaya/Second Road intersection. Plenty of secure parking in the hotel car parks too.

After coming through the front glass doors of the hotel, Starz Diner is on the left after walking past the reception area and before the Pizzeria. You cannot miss it.

Being a very mild night, we opted for the outside tables, which are under cover, and perhaps a little less busy than in the diner itself which was very full on our visit.

We had been invited to the Starz Diner to review the new items on the menu overseen by their chef Joseph Gee, and enthusiastically explained by the Executive Assistant Manager John Manley.

What should be noted here is that Starz features a nightly buffet (B. 1,272 Sunday to Friday and B. 1,398 Saturday and includes free flow wine) and tempting as that was, it was the a la carte menu we had come to experience.

The wine list is quite extensive, and the house wine by the glass is from Jacob’s Creek, Australia and is B. 294 per glass. On the cocktail menu I noticed my favorite single malt whiskey The Balvenie (spoken with reverence), a tipple that is very difficult to find in Pattaya.

The a la carte menu begins with seven appetizers and salads (B. 248-813) with a newcomer in the soft shell crab salad with garden greens and lime vinaigrette.

Four soups are up next (B. 154 (miso) to B. 412 (tom yum koong). Amongst these was a gin flamed tomato bisque, which I immediately claimed for my starter.

Burgers and sandwiches, accompanied by coleslaw and French fries, are up next with a spam sandwich (B. 271) and upwards to the best beef (Wagyu) in a burger (B. 695).

Then we come to the five mains with a grilled chicken piri piri (B. 412) with cheese and roasted vegetables and piri piri sauce, and a char-grilled Australian Angus Rib Eye steak at the top end at B. 1072.

That was not the end to the menu, however, as there is one complete page of Asian flavors with 14 items covering Indonesia, Malaysia, Thai, Japanese, Indian and most in the B. 300-400 range.

With so many tempting items we took our time in selection but ended up with Madame choosing the soft shell crab salad as an entrée, followed by the chicken piri piri. I selected the gin flamed tomato bisque as my entrée followed by the pan-fried snow fish fillet which came with a spicy lime chilli sauce.

The new soft shell crab was most enjoyable, said Madame, while my soup was superb, with a large crostini in the soup as well. Top marks for that one.

Madame’s chicken piri piri (Portuguese) features the roasted chilli in the piri piri sauce and was a very large portion, which came on its own warm plate.

My snow fish was excellent and the spicy lime chilli sauce really set this dish off. Top marks again Chef Joseph.

Starz has all the glitz that one expects from a Hard Rock property. The food is also upbeat with items such as the som tum with Alaskan king crab legs (try getting that from your local som tum cart) and the soft shell crab salad or gin flamed tomato bisque. Quite frankly, we have never been disappointed by the food from the Hard Rock Hotel (or the Hard Rock Café) and we had a most enjoyable evening.

Starz Diner, Hard Rock Hotel, Pattaya 2nd Road (next to Montien), telephone 038 428 755, fax 038 421 673, all cards. Secure parking in the hotel parking areas. Buffet from 6.30 p.m. till 9.30 p.m.