Restaurant review: Issaya Siamese Club Hong Kong lives up to original’s lofty standards
The original Issaya Siamese Club in Bangkok is number 39 on the “Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants” list, so expectations were high when we visited the branch in Causeway Bay. It’s a beautiful space – opulent, with lovely fabrics and textures, comfortable sofas in the bar, a large al fresco area for balmy nights, and an open kitchen in the dining area.
The Iberico pork loin salad with preserved Meyer lemon and Asian broccoli in chilli-lime dressing (HK$165) was like a beautiful painting: thinly sliced meat laid out on a plate, with accents such as coriander leaves, sliced lemon grass and fried shallots adding colour, flavour and texture.
Steamed summer rolls with spiced chicken, pork sausage, bean sprouts and garlic chives (HK$120), served in a bamboo steamer, were warm and soft, with bright flavours.
Mieng tuna (HK$118) didn’t come in the expected betel leaves; instead, the tuna tartare with coconut, peanuts and ginger with palm sugar and fish sauce were served in a pastry cup that tasted slightly stale; a pity, because the filling was delicious.
Pomelo salad (HK$145) came in a flowerpot, and the ingredients were turned out onto a plate by the server. It’s not a “signature dish” (as most of our other orders were) but it should be; the so-called baby shrimp were large and sweet, with a nice, bouncy texture, and the red chilli dressing that dressed the fruit looked fiery, but was well-balanced.
For the mains, the whole barramundi with Issaya fresh herb salad in chilli tamarind dressing (HK$328) had a spectacular presentation. It was a large, whole fish, with the meat taken off in chunks before being arranged back on the bones. The fish was moist and was dressed with ingredients that included Indian spinach (it had an ice plant-like texture), sliced long beans, mint leaves and nam jim sauce.
Twice-cooked beef short ribs (HK$388) were succulent and tender, and went deliciously with the short grain rice with Asian multigrains, Chiang Mai mushrooms and fried garlic (HK$108).
The only dish I didn’t like was the spice-rubbed grilled Australian chicken; I couldn’t really taste the spice, and the Thai whisky the waiter used to flambé the chicken at the table didn’t add much flavour.
Desserts were colourful and interesting, and not as saccharine as some Thai sweets can be. Jasmine flower panna cotta (HK$85) was over-perfumed, but the ice cream sandwich part of the dish – jasmine rice ice cream with a rice tuile – was refreshing. The Issaya “sweet nothings” – assorted house-made petits fours was a great deal at HK$85; the selection included a Thai tea macaron, which had a smoky flavour, three types of marshmallows (lime-honey, sesame and galangal), peanut and coconut nougat, and raspberry pâte de fruits.
Issaya Siamese Club Hong Kong, 25/F Soundwill Plaza II – Midtown, 1-29 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay, tel: 2154 3048. About HK$435 without drinks or the service charge