The Issaya Siamese Club is a charming Thai restaurant so well hidden on a small street near Rama IV Road, even with a map it’s not easy to find. Standing proudly in the middle of a luscious green garden, this 100-years-old house with its wooden verandah and old fashioned staircase instantly sets a romantic mood, making it a perfect place for duo dining. This is not another pretty tourist place: Thais, expats and the few travellers who make the effort to discover it are unanimous – the combined charm of a heritage house, exceptional service and the renowned culinary flair of Chef Ian Kittichai makes Issaya Siamese Club an outstanding restaurant.
Driving though narrow streets of Klong Toey doesn’t prepare you for the superb two storey house in a tropical garden peppered with many colorful bean bags where guests can causally enjoy a drink before dinner. Before settling down for dinner, wander around and discover the house. The ground floor is divided between the indoor dining room and, adjacent to it, a large and pleasant outdoor verandah which is usually reserved for smokers. Don’t forget to walk upstairs to discover several small salons and private dining rooms dedicated to groups and parties. With lots of wood and velvet sofas, it does feel like a time jump taking you back a hundred years ago. The dining room is a daring mix of classic and modern furniture on terracotta tile floors with unusually colourful wallpapers. The whole room basks in a very soft light and the result works surprising well. The menu, both in Thai and English, is not illustrated but cleverly written, keeping the phonetic dish names instead of an elaborated but hard to visualize description. The wine list is substantial and several excellent wines are available by the glass.
The dishes are resolutely Thai, moderately spicy and always skilfully presented. To discover new tastes as well as how authentic the food is, a good way to sample the menu is to order a mix of chef recommendations in addition to anything out of the ordinary, plus some really local dishes. The chef recommendations are indicated with an icon and for the rest – just pick the most unusual names on the menu. The Yum Hua Plee – a banana flower salad (260 baht) is a delightfully crunchy dish, enhanced with sweet dipping sauce, and the Tdom Klong Seafood – a clear sour and spicy seafood soup (280 baht) – is carefully flavoured and seriously delicious. The Double Boiled Beef Short Rib (1,350 baht) melts on the bone but is surprisingly crispy on the outside outside. Meat portions are generously served and sufficient for two. Another stand out dish is the Poo Nim Tod Kai Kem – soft shell crab with a salty egg sauce (480 baht) – which is a great variation of the classic crab dish.
All the dishes are excellent, but whatever you order, do not miss the sweets! Clever and subtle variations of traditional Thai desserts are presented with great taste. The most surprising touch is when a tiny candle is lit inside the box carrying your Coconut Panacotta and Kanom Dok Mali (220 baht) just to add faint candle scent most Thai people remember from their youth. To end the dinner on a perfect note, someone brings another wooden box to your table and serves few complimentary ‘little-nothings’, a set of delicate cookies and some surprising cotton candies wrapped on a tree branch. Small touches make great impressions. In addition to such a magnificient dinner, a special mention should be made of the faultless service… staff are polite and diligent with excellent English and they are always attentive so no need to catch someone’s attention – you need something and someone just appears. So if you are looking for one of the most romantic dinners in Bangkok together with an excellent and uncompromising Thai cuisine, you shouldn’t miss this hidden treasure.
Opening Hours: Daily 11:30am-3pm, 6pm-midnight
Location: 4 Soi Sri Aksorn, Chuaphloeng Rd.
Tel: 02 672 9040-1 (reservations for dinner strongly recommended)