[Bangkok] Finding Issaya Siamese Club may take a while, hidden on a small street near Rama IV Road. But it is like uncovering a treasure, probably one of the most charming restaurants (architecturally) I have visited.
This gorgeous-looking Thai restaurant is helmed by Chef Ian Kittichai, which is probably one of, if not the world’s most well-known Thai celebrity chef.
‘Issaya’ which represents the rainy season, name chosen for the nature and gardens surrounding this century-old house.
In Bangkok (or even in surrounding regions), many known restaurants are housed in mansions like this. But the moment I stepped into the dining hall, my eyes just brightened up, thrilled by the burst of colours.
It was that shade of bright aqua blue, with chairs covered in stripped orange and yellow cloth, cushions of eclectic design. The service staff brought us to seats of baby pink.
The adjoining rooms are in fuchsia pink and royal purple.
The gardens around is where Chef Ian Kittichai grows some of his ingredients, such as the Thai spices. Talk about Thai-style farm-to-table.
With that said, I am not sure if the Thai cuisine would truly appeal to all though.
You see, travellers who crave for real good authentic Thai food would head to the streets, or some non-descript eatery for a fraction of this price.
Issaya Siamese Club’s menu with styles of modernity and its fancifulness, is likely to entice the farang with bigger budget to spare.
As noted in the surrounding tables, there were two families from Hong Kong, a few Europeans on the other tables, and us from Singapore. (Didn’t spot the upper class Thais though.)
Issaya’s Set Menu is priced at 1,500++ baht per person (SGD$59, USD$42), and Tasting Menu at $2,500++ baht person (SGD$98, USD$70).
The signature Koo Moo Yang (380 baht, SGD$15, USD$10.65) had street-familiar grilled pork shoulder made-at-the-table, where the server would also pour in condiments placed in multi-coloured bowls.
A bit too gimmickry for my liking. At the end of the day, the anticipation was long (took about 10 minute for the whole process), but the effect other than some interactivity, did little to enhance the taste.
Slightly overpowering in salt, and might have lost some of those smoky-flavours.
I liked the Choo-Chee Salmon Rom Kwan (790 baht, SGD$31, USD$22) – slow-cooked smoked salmon presented in a covering, when opened had still some of those smoke drifting out.
The meat was fleshy and moist, and the homemade red curry sauce topped like a dip did not suppress the natural taste of the fish, and instead complimented rather well.
The signature Yum Hua Plee (260 baht, SGD$10, USD$7.30) of banana blossom and heart of palm salad, crispy shallots and roasted peanuts in a chilli jam dressing, arranged together like a low pillar, was all-in-all a balanced-tasting dish considering all the components.
On another level, it was just another beautiful-looking dish, which couldn’t excite the palate enough.
I have been to all the Bangkok entries listed on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, and if I were to choose to recommend one again to revisit, actually… it could be Issaya Siamese Club.
While there were food items that too pricey and perhaps ordinary, some dishes were worthy inventive takes of Thai cuisine. And it is attractive-enough looking place.
Issaya Siamese Club
4 Soi Sri Aksorn, Chuaphloeng Rd, Sathorn, Bangkok 10120 Thailand
Opening Hours: 11:30am-3pm, 6pm – 12am Daily
Tel: +66 2 672 9040