best restaurants in Bangkok

Issaya Siamese Club, Bangkok, Thailand

A glorious old bungalow enveloped in lush tropical foliage houses one of Asia’s most celebrated restaurants, Issaya Siamese Club. Named consistently in “best of” lists by recognized restaurant critics and publications, the charming eatery bleeped loud and clear on our gourmet radar, prompting us to try our luck at getting a table reservation during our April trip to Bangkok.
Issaya Siamese Club, Bangkok, Thailand
Issaya Siamese Club, Bangkok
Issaya Siamese Club, Bangkok, Thailand
Verandah Dining
Paying homage to the abundance of water that allows the verdant surrounds to flourish, the name Issaya, an old Thai word for ‘rainy season’, was chosen as a befitting epithet. Additionally, wishing to bring back the grace of a bygone era, when ladies and gentlemen would dress tastefully for dinner and chivalry was an expectation not a surprise, the Siamese Club title mirrors a traditional members club. Those averse to shining your shoes and donning a tie need not fret however, as the mood is all welcoming: whether in shorts or a suit, it’s happy times for all.
Issaya Siamese Club, Bangkok, Thailand
Private Dining Room
A century old Thai villa houses the restaurant and lounge. A ‘garden party’ vibe embraces the tropical gardens, and relaxed dining prospers indoors amongst the antiques and mementos celebrating the bungalow’s history. Brightly painted walls frame heirlooms from the past, and vintage collectables pledge hours of intrigue. Personality oozes from the woodwork casting an individuality that breathes a life of its own, gifting an imagined heartbeat to the building.
Issaya Siamese Club, Bangkok, Thailand
Dining Areas Full of Character
Issaya Siamese Club is the flagship kitchen of Chef Ian Kittichai where he showcases Thai cuisine as inspired by his formative years growing up in Bangkok’s wet markets. As a child, he assisted his mother with her food cart, pushing it through working-class neighbourhoods of Bangkok. While his roots are clearly present in the pragmatics of his recipes, influence from his international career and philosophy that all good meals begin with the best of ingredients – fresh, organic and homegrown – are unmistakably woven into his creations. The result is an innovative approach to Thai cuisine bestowing guests with signature dishes and a remarkable Thai dining experience.
We sit on the first floor in upholstered armchairs, admiring purple walls, a checkerboard and ancient TV set – complete with V-shaped antennaes – and can’t imagine a better way to begin than with a cocktail. Issaya Mojito (THB350) assuages our thirst, well suited to Bangkok’s warm weather. A kaffir lime leaf, half lime, and lemongrass stalks adorn the rim of a copper goblet. Rum, house made lemongrass syrup, and kaffir lime leaves are muddled with bunches of mint to make a revitalizing house version of the classic.
Issaya Siamese Club, Bangkok, Thailand
Issaya Mojito
Our first starter, Yum Hua Plee (THB260), banana blossom and heart of palm salad, arrives on an unevenly shaped plate, giving evidence to their hand made sourcing. The fresh ingredients are seasoned with crispy shallots and roasted peanuts in a chili jam dressing. Deep fried shreddings of banana blossom tower the top and a ring of sauce circles the plate with purple butterfly pea petals scattered around the edges.  It’s a lovely contrast of textures with moist fresh ingredients underneath and the crispy fried flaky strips on top. This traditional Thai dish with contemporary presentation, launches a positive introduction.
Issaya Siamese Club, Bangkok, Thailand
Yum Hua Plee
Yum Makur Goong Tod (THB340) brings crispy harbour shrimps atop melting eggplant in a chili tamarind dressing. The eggplant is wonderful. Sour and smoky, the sauce is incredibly moreish. The smokiness is achieved by grilling the eggplant until the skin burns. It’s then left in its charcoal shell for the flavours to infuse before being removed. The tamarind sauce gives an addictive lip-smacking flavour, which keeps me forking back until it all disappears. The battered and fried crustaceans win hubby’s approval and while I work my way through the garden, he’s hard at work on the sea.
Issaya Siamese Club, Bangkok, Thailand
Yum Makur Goong Tod
Mussamun Gae (THB720), lamb shank simmered in mussamun curry served with pickled cucumber, is one of those classic comforts that must be ordered when in Thailand. Curry bases at Issaya Siamese Club are all house made, with many ingredients picked directly from right outside the kitchen window from their own garden. Cinnamon, cardamom, coriander and coconut milk are just some of the seasonings turning the sauce into the rich, intense, soak-me-up-please decadence that it is. I consider the sauce so delicious on its own, that I find the meat unnecessary. The flakes-off-the-bone succulence of the lamb shank however is not to be missed, and between hubby and myself, we soon have the bone sucked dry.
Issaya Siamese Club, Bangkok, Thailand
Mussamun Gae
Our host tells us that Kao Ob (THB280) is something that he sees on 90% of the tables at Issaya Siamese Club. The baked rice is extremely popular for its hearty fill-me-upness, chewy texture and mouth-filling relish. Short grain rice is wok sautéed with Asian multigrains, Chiang Mai mushrooms, garlic, kidney and cannellini beans, and Chinese olives. Cooked in a Korean style bibimbap pot, the grains caramelize lightly making the overall profile even more delicious.
Issaya Siamese Club, Bangkok, Thailand
Kao Ob
Do save room for desserts as they are really something special. Kanom Dok Mali (THB250), Jasmine Panna Cotta, is encased in a bamboo leaf, served with a velvety rich jasmine rice ice cream and jasmine rice tuile. The soft creaminess is broken up with finely chopped white dragon fruit, mandarin segments, a mulberry sauce and passionfruit gel. Hubby is silent until completion: a clear sign of approval.
Issaya Siamese Club, Bangkok, Thailand
Kanom Dok Mali
Petit Fours come as a dramatic ending on a duo of platters. A miniature antique meat safe replica contains a trio of small bites: dense Honey Financiers with mulberry sauce and a butter cookie crumble base; dainty half spheres of Roselle Fruit Pate; and ‘wow-oh-so-moist’ Mini Baba soaked with Mekhong Thai rum and crowned with coconut cream. A second tray bears three giant glass jars, each carrying another type of treat: Peanut Coconut Candy wrapped in wax paper matching the old-school décor; Ginger Marshmallows with a subtle infusion of the spice evident at the very end; and who-was-the-genius-who-thought-of-this kaffir lime macarons smoked with a Thai candle.
Issaya Siamese Club, Bangkok, Thailand
Trio of Desserts
Issaya Siamese Club, Bangkok, Thailand
Honey Financiers
Issaya Siamese Club, Bangkok, Thailand
Roselle Fruit Pate
Issaya Siamese Club, Bangkok, Thailand
Mini Baba
Issaya Siamese Club, Bangkok, Thailand
Second Petit Four Platter
Issaya Siamese Club, Bangkok, Thailand
Thai Candle Smoked Macarons
Outstanding and unforgettable, Issaya Siamese Club is a must visit for all dedicated foodies.
Reasons to visit: charming setting full of character; delicious Thai cuisine presented with contemporary flair, Yum Hua Plee; Kao Ob; Petite Fours.
Issaya Siamese Club
4 Soi Sri Aksorn
Chua Ploeng Road
Sathorn, Bangkok
+66 02 672 9040
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  1. My goodness, my mouth is watering. This has to be one of the best you have shown us on the Yum List, for sure. There are items here I have never heard of before, but I'd sure love to try them out. I loved your phrase "fill-me-upness in reference to the rice dish.

  2. Thanks for this recommendation! It's good to see that fine Bangkok dining is not all about skybars, steel and glass – not that there is anything wrong with those either. This place looks wonderful, I think often the best food is just like this: traditional with a little bit of a twist.

  3. Monica, what a lovely place; beautiful ambiance! That first dessert…the little white square with the dots resemble dice! 🙂

  4. What a lovely meal! Those desserts look amazing!

  5. Between the different dining areas and selection of foods, this looks like a must see.

  6. i'm lusting after the lamb shank in massaman curry! 😀

  7. Hi Monica
    Thank God for that map. Looks a bit off the beaten
    track from eg: Shangri-la, Oriental etc on the river
    but I guess a good old Tuk-Tuk taxi would be fun, eh?

    Sure looks classy in that garden setting.
    Plenty of orchid blooms to decorate the food and drinks,
    so that would be one problem overcome.

    The dessert with the Mini Baba intrigues me – soaked in Mekhong Rum!!
    Hopefully the Mekhong rum is not as potent as the Mekhong Whiskey???
    Otherwise you would be standing on your head in the middle of the table.
    Cheers and thanks for the excellent report.

    • Actually this is one I don't recommend taking a tuk-tuk for. It's further away than we expected and the surrounds don't look so desirable. First time round, I'd take a taxi for sure. Thumbs up for orchids in their own garden and herbs and spices used in recipes too. Mehkong rum… Mehkong whiskey, although I've never had the latter, I'm guessing potency is comparable – we may have ended up with some table dancing later in the evening 😉

    • Ha ha – good one!
      Yes with Mehkong Whiskey, I'm bloody sure that table dancing might just have taken place
      with a lot of falling off – clothes might have gone also!
      And we can't have that in a boutique restaurant!!!

  8. Pingback: Best of Bangkok – Best Hotels and Restaurants in Bangkok – The Yum List

  9. Wow! All is tasty.

  10. Very nice plating.

  11. This old house is a fantastic setting. Food is droolworthy.

  12. Richard Mile

    Top 50 restaurants eh? Must pay a visit.

  13. Felipe Saenz

    So many good looking dishes to choose from!

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