Everyone has a Christmas tradition. Well, everyone at least that somehow celebrates Christmas. It can be small or big, elaborate or subtle. Ours is pretty simple, and not very Christmassy, but its a tradition and we like it. Every year, as we travel to Asia, we have lunch at Issaya Siamese Club in Bangkok, with cocktails and a long tasting menu. Every year we also eat so much that we don’t really need more food the same day.
Issaya Siamese Club is an upscale Thai restaurant in Bangkok, located in Thung Maha Mek in Bangkok. I have written about Issaya several times before, links to previous posts are here and here. The restaurant is in a beautiful Thai-villa surrounded by a garden. The decor is very colorful as is the food, so I like taking photos there. The cuisine is hearty Thai food: Thai bbq ribs, thick and spicy curries, heart of palm and banana leaf. there are two set menus to choose from as well as a la carte. We always choose the same one: the set menu of the day which is served to the whole table to share. It has all together seven courses and a side of mixed rices, and costs 1800 THB per person (~50€). Additionally you get an amouse buche, a palate cleanser and a small after dessert which can be taken home.
Although Issaya has a decent wine list, I have never touched it. It feels more appropriate to have cocktails there as they have a long list of lovely Thai-style drinks. Ingredients include lemongrass, mint, coriander, Pandan leaf, banana and range of other fresh fruits. After the welcome cocktail, I always turn to beer with the food. The tastes are full and spicy, so I don’t know any wine that could really handle that very well. An ice cold Singha beer is a perfect match.
This year our lunch was extra fun as we had company. Two of our friends flew to Bangkok to spend Christmas with us, one from Singapore and one all the way from Sweden. The Issaya experience was even more fun in a group, as we could talk about the food and try out several of the cocktails. After lunch the tradition continues with a walk in the hot sun to Size S cafe for coffee, and an additional piece of cake to share.
Not to make it sound too rosy, I do have some criticism this year for our favorite lunch spot. Having eaten here four years in a row, I can see that the menu does not change very much. Every year there has been only one new course to the set lunch and I am starting finally to tire of some of the dishes. I think next time we should perhaps try a la carte. The same feedback goes for the signature cocktails, there is not much new, however they are so awesome that I complain a little bit less. I also browsed through my posts from a few years back and I can see that the price has hiked quite a lot from last year, almost 20%. If this keeps up, I am not sure I will think its great value for money any more (which is what I have said the previous years).
Restaurants do need to reinvent themselves a to stay alive, and I think it is soon time for Issaya to do this. Being left out from the newly published Bangkok Michelin guide should serve as a sign. Despite all of this, I still look forward to our tradition. If we come back to Asia Christmas 2018 (Australia has come to mind), I am sure it will still be on the list.