To get us in the mood for a fun evening, we began with some signature cocktails Le Issaya Cocktail (Grey Goose vodka with house-made mulberry sorbet topped with sparkling rose wine) and the Issaya Mojito (Barcadi Superior Rum spiked with the scent of kaffir lime leaves, mint and lemongrass). Both refreshing cocktails were superb in presentation and the perfect palate teaser for the very locally inspired food that was to come.
The menu features Chef Kittichai’s unique signature Thai cuisine of traditional ingredients and flavours with international and progressive cooking methods. Some of the signature dishes, such as the Mussuman Gae (Mussuman Curry Lamb Shank) and Kanom Dok Mali (Jasmine Flower Flan) as well as an ever-changing market menu that highlights seasonal specials, direct from the market, are the heart of the menu. Chef Kittichai is a pioneer in farm-to-table dining in Thailand and incorporates his purity and freshness beliefs into Issaya Siamese Club Bangkok.
This was followed by more small delicacies that didn’t fail on the taste front, a Kanom Krok, a coconut crème brulee filled with wok-sauteed chopped chicken, galangal, kaffir lime leaves and chili jam. It may look so simple, but with each bite you get a different ‘zing’ of ingredient and they are all gone too quickly.
A classic Thai vegetarian dish surprised us next, the Larb Pak Sod – a salad of white cabbage, Honshimeji mushrooms, basil, mint, Japanese cucumbers, shallots and roasted sticky rice dressing. On the plate you are not sure what lies within and with so many interesting textures and herb/vegetable ingredients, the effect is divine with complexity and even for carnivores like us still can’t get enough of this salad.
The Kradook Moo Aob Sauce is a spicy rubbed pork baby back ribs dish that is glazed with the house-blended chili paste and we were positively salivating with every morsel. The rub ingredients create such an exotic flavor and the meat was cooked to perfection with a beautiful and lightly burnt ‘crust’ to create that contrast in texture.
At this point we are beside ourselves with big grins and feverish anticipation for what comes next and the Mussaman Gae – Lamb Shank Simmered in Mussamun Curry served with Pickled Cucumber was one of the highlights for us, as name Mussaman is not actually native Thai word but a generally thought to refer to the Muslims with the earlier writers from the mid-19th century calling the dish “Mussulman Curry” being an archaic form of the word Muslim. Yet, the dish originated in 17th century Central Thailand at the cosmopolitan court of Ayutthaya through the Persian merchant from whom the Thai noble family of Bunnag descends. This dish with such long and rich history beckoned Chef Kittichai and inspired him to create his own version of Mussaman on his menu. This dish exemplifies chef Kittichai’s commitment to superb ingredients and authenticity in flavor as it is so palatable and evocative yet perfectly judged in the sensibilities with a lamb shank being simmered to its tenderness that was completely a melt-in-your mouth with every single bite. It is best accompanied by the Wok Sauteed Short Grain Rice with “Hed Por” - Asian multigrains, Chiang Mai mushrooms and garlic sprinkled with mushroom-scented oil.
Thai people love their pork, in case you hadn’t guessed, so the last main dish was a stunner in all regards. Kor Moo Yang – made-at-your-table grilled pork shoulder with coriander and chili in a toasted jasmine rice dressing comes in an interesting presentation that has you guessing, as it looks like an edible gift wrapped delivery. The pork oozes flavor that is to be savoured at every mouthful, with a crunchy texture on the outside and you don’t want this to end.
Where could the kitchen take us now after such a wonderful array of Thai cooking? You would never guess what is to follow, but here is what happened. The Restaurant Manager arrived at our table and proceeded to assemble the dessert by laying two large banana leaves in front of us. On this she artfully brushes/splashes coconut cream over the leaves, a la Jackson Pollock style (think Blue Poles in white paint and edible too!), followed by two dollops of passion fruit and mulberry foam with shredded coconut, rice puffs and crumbled white chocolate pieces.
This is then followed by a container filled with dry ice, on top of which is a chocolate sphere, at which point she throws the chocolate sphere onto the banana leaves and smashes it into pieces, giving you an instant feeling that you have just had water thrown all over you, but of course, this is just dry ice, so you are actually still dry. Hidden inside the sphere is a crepe coconut soufflé, you are left with broken bits of chocolate and soufflé seemingly emitting vapours. This is pure theatricality that also tastes amazing as it looks. Delicious with a capital D and the Broken Bucket dessert is served!
Tried & Tested: