Issaya Siamese Club, Bangkok

My nightmare with rogue PINK taxi drivers in BKK continued when we took a taxi from the Emquartier shopping mall taxi stand. Security guards were stationed at the taxi stand to record down the destinations of the passengers and the taxi which picked us up. Hence we felt kinda safe to board a taxi from the mall. We were hoping to avoid PINK taxi but was mentally prepared for price negotiation this time if a PINK taxi was assigned to us.

Unfortunately a PINK taxi appeared and we braved our souls to prepare for some negotiations…However the driver turned on the meter when we board the car, surprise surprise~ We showed him the website in Thai with instructions on how to get to Issaya Siamese Club. Our happiness was short-lived as the despicable driver switched off the meter half way during the journey!!! We’ve travelled to various parts of Thailand such as Koh Samui & Phuket, while it is a common culture for them to sometimes negotiate price before the journey (although it is illegal), this is the first time we met such dishonorable driver.

It was infuriating to meet a 2nd driver who attempted to hoodwink us within a day!!! He quoted B200 (S$8) for the short trip from Emquartier to Issaya Siamese Club. I would have negotiated if he told us right from the start that he does not run meter. But by deceiving us and the security guard at the mall, we insisted to go by the meter…he counter offered B150…which we rejected again. He turned the meter back on and said he will only send us to the Hotel Ibis near the restaurant. Frustrated, we agreed and we turned on our GPS to make sure that he was in the right direction.

Map to Ibis

We alighted at Hotel Ibis and the meter showed B57 (S$2.25) which we paid B60 for the 4.8km journey. I’m sure it wouldn’t cost more than B100 to reach Issaya which is just another 1.2km away! He attempted to trick us into paying double (he quoted B200) of what would be the metered rate…

While we were glad that we stood our ground and not subject to such extortion, the sad truth is – it caused some inconvenience. Due to this rogue driver, we had to walk for 13 mins to cover a 4 mins drive…Navigating through the small roads without pedestrian footpath meant there were close shaves whereby cars brushed past us…We arrived at the restaurant feeling sweaty…

Meeting such taxi drivers is like being robbed at knifepoint…no matter how hard you bargain, it will still cost much more than the usual fare. The thought of alighting immediately did cross my mind but we were also concerned we might injure ourselves if the driver refused to stop. =(

Map to Issaya

The walk certainly drained me of my energy and instead of having just having the set meal, we decided to go for the Degustation Menu

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Ordered a jug of Sangria to quench our thirst and douse the fuming anger over the rogue driver…and started with a complimentary starter trio of tuna tartare, banana blossom salad and tumeric chicken. All three of the starters were prepared with use of fragrant spices making them aromatic and flavoursome. A preview of a rich, spice based meal ahead.

The Sai Klok Talay housemade fresh shellfish sausage with hua-hin style seafood broth was presented using Japanese paper hotpot. The thick and umami filled soup was so delectable that I told the staff that I would finish every drop of it~

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Two protein dishes were served – Yum Nua Grilled imported tender beef, fresh herbs, organic vegetables in a charred bird’s eye chili vinaigrette and Kradook Moo Aob Sauce Spice rubbed pork baby back ribs glazed with Issaya house-blended chili paste. The slightly tart vinaigrette made the beef dish pretty refreshing while the pork ribs had a sweet and spicy taste.

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The Yum Makar Koong Tod Crispy harbor shrimps, melting eggplant and hard boiled eggs with chili-tamarind dressing was an interesting way of cooking eggplant which tend to turn soggy easily. The eggplant remained pretty crunchy or at least semi-crunchy.

After the meat, seafood was up next with Hor Mok Goong Mung Korn Steamed whole fresh maine lobster, lobster curry custard, fresh coconut milk and sweet basil. We thought it was a pity to steam the lobster and cover it with the curry custard as we were unable to taste the freshness of the crustacean. The curry custard somewhat resembles the Khmer cuisine called Amok (fish mousse). The lobster was followed by the Choo-Chee Salmon Rom Kwan Slow-cooked smoked salmon with jerusalem artichokes from chokchai farm in a homemade red curry sauce. Not forgetting a portion of Seasonal vegetables.

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We were pretty stuffed by now when the rice dish Wok sauteed short grain rice with “Hed Por” Asian multigrains, Chiang Mai mushrooms and garlic sprinkled with mushroom-scented oil was presented with a final meat – Paneang Nua Grain fed Australian veal cheek simmered in house-blended spices, hand pressed coconut milk and kaffir lime leaves. The multi-grain rice served in the hot stone pot (like Bibimbap) had a nice smoky aroma but we were simply too full to finish the whole pot of it. Veal cheek was a lean meat which became soft after the slow simmer, although it was still rather fibrous and could still taste its deep, intense flavour despite cooking it with strong spices.

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Thankfully ladies always have a separate stomach for desserts. I still managed to finish the Issaya Ruem Mit Assorted house-made desserts including Jasmine Flower Panna Cotta, Saree Cake, Thai-Style Sticky Rice Flour Mochi and mini macarons.  In fact I was wondering if there will be petit fours served after this…

We completed the meal in less than 2 hours, which is considered fast for a 10-course meal and left with some marshmallows as gifts.

Issaya Siamese Club is ranked #39 in the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant 2015 and they are the 5th Thailand restaurant on the list. Perhaps after having tried 3 other restaurants in Thailand that also made the list meant that we would benchmark Issaya against the others and they somewhat fell slightly short of our expectations in terms of the “wow” factor.

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