Essential to Bangkok survival is knowing where to discover a sanctuary garden for lunch and dinner. Chef Ian Kittichai is featured in Asia’s top 50 Restaurants, Issaya, a quick taxi ride from central Bangkok, and an oasis in a noisy steaming city, is just a stone’s throw from the chaos of Klong Toey Market. Housed in a 1920’s Thai built home and surrounded by lush gardens, outdoor dining and indoor dining rooms for steamy days. Upstairs is the Siamese Club designed as a lounge bar. Cocktails should begin upstairs, I highly recommend the Ginger Basil Kicker, a refreshing aperitif! If you are traveling with friends, Issaya menu is designed for sharing generous portions.
While he was growing up, chef Pongtawat ‘Ian’ Chalermkittichai would rise at 3am daily to accompany his mother to the wet market to select produce for her neighborhood grocery. After school, Ian would push a cart through the neighborhood selling his mother’s different curries, while shouting: “Khao Geang Ron Ron Ma Leaw Jaar!” (Hot curry coming!)
‘Issaya’ which represents the rainy season, a name chosen for the nature and flourishing gardens surrounding this century-old house. The interiors are bright and colorful and brimming with huge tropical floral displays. Think fuchsia, pink, aqua blue walls, multiple dining rooms are comfortable, some with cozy sofas set around a low table for intimate Saturday lunch. Issaya is the ground floor dining outlet that includes both a dining room and large outdoor terrace. The menu features Chef Kittichai’s unique signature Thai cuisine of traditional ingredients and flavors with international and progressive cooking methods. Some of Chef’s signature dishes, such as Mussuman Curry Lamb Shank (Mussuman Gae) and Jasmine Flower Flan (Kanom Dok Mali), as well as an ever-changing market menu that highlights seasonal specials, direct from the market, are the heart of the menu.
Issaya also features Chef’s garden where guests can see aromatic Thai herbs grown year-round. Chef Kittichai is a pioneer in farm-to-table dining in Thailand and incorporates his purity and freshness beliefs into Issaya.There are several outstanding signatures at Issaya but most unmissable is Yum Hua Plee – banana blossom and palm heart salad, crispy shallots and roasted peanuts in a chili jam dressing and Kittichai’s “broken bucket” dessert of Kanom Tung Taek – cold coconut crepe soufflé with Thai condiments
Besides the famed Issaya, Chef Kittichai is involved in 13 food and beverage outlets covering various different cuisines in four countries. His most recent opening was a fourth branch of Spot Dessert Bar in New York City.
Kittichai has appeared on various episodes of Iron Chef America and Iron Chef Japan and he is currently filming on the set of Iron Chef Thailand. He has also recently filmed Chef to Chef and 3 Chefs, 1 City.
Highly recommend, reservations essential.