Introducing six restaurants at ICONSIAM.
By Ayush Madan
The Khlong San district of Bangkok is one of the oldest in the city, named after the famous canal that runs through the area. I once only knew Khlong San as the place with Wong Wian Yai, hidden bars, and hotels by the riverfront. This would all change on 9 November 2018, when ICONSIAM opened its doors to the public, quickly becoming a global landmark along the Chao Phraya River and a prime shopping, dining, and entertainment destination.
Up to 120,000 visitors come to ICONSIAM daily, many of whom are international travellers. A quick tour of the mall and it becomes clear why: ICONSIAM has an unmatched range of food with its “7 Wondrous Dining Zones”, which include dozens of diverse cuisines, and hundreds of dining options. In celebration of the 5th Anniversary of ICONSIAM, we would like to recommend six of its top eateries that you shouldn’t miss.
Restaurant #1: Jumbo Seafood at The Veranda G Floor
Our first stop was at The Veranda on the G floor, filled with natural light through the ceiling-high windows. The award-winning Singaporean seafood restaurant, Jumbo Seafood, had a relaxing ambience created by its soft music, honeycomb-patterned decor and warm ring lighting. With over 23 branches in seven different countries, this was the seafood chain’s first branch in Bangkok. The most eye-catching feature of Jumbo Seafood were the live lobsters, mud crabs, and river prawns encased in large glass tanks; this is common in Chinese restaurants since many diners prefer the freshest ingredients.
Deshelled prawns fried with cereal (THB 415) was a sweet, savoury, and crispy delicacy – an extraordinary start to the meal. It was followed by a flavourful Beancurd and assorted seafood stew (THB 394), slow braised in a rustic claypot. Next came the Grilled jumbo river prawn, which was another interesting dish. It was texturally different from any prawn I had eaten in the past; soft, succulent, and ocean kissed.
Masala Recommends: The Singaporean chili crab with fried mantou buns (THB 2,144). This dish featured the best elements of Jumbo Seafood all in one. A giant mud crab paired with a mouthwatering chilli sauce, thickened with eggs, and spiced with chilli paste. The fried sweet mantou buns beautifully complimented the heat of the crab and kept me coming back for more.
Restaurant #2: Peppery Thai Bistro at SOOKSIAM G Floor
The second stop on the tour was in the SOOKSIAM zone of ICONSIAM. This part of the mall has over 3,000 vendors serving foods representing the four main regions of Thailand. We arrived at Peppery Thai Bistro, a no-frills classic Thai joint with its secondary location in Siam Paragon. We were first served a well-spiced and tart Pineapple fried rice (THB 320), alongside a refreshing and naturally sweet watermelon smoothie – in a whole watermelon!
Masala Recommends: The Tom Yum Goong (THB 280). Nothing is as comforting as a timeless, creamy, spicy, and sour tom yum soup. The lovely aroma of lemongrass awakened my senses, and every spoonful warmed me to my core. If you’re looking for a classic tom yum goong, look no further than Peppery Thai.
Restaurant #3: Baan Khanitha The Heritage 4th Floor
Sitting down at most restaurants, you can’t be certain about where your ingredients are sourced. At Baan Khanitha “The Heritage”, you can rest easy since all their food is made from produce grown on their organic Baan Palanai farm in Khao Yai.
First opening in 1993, Baan Khanitha understood from its early days that when it comes to good Thai food, the devil is in the details. All the dishes served followed this commitment and were made with fine, intricate, and flawless technique. The restaurant also had elegant Thai décor, complete with ornate cushioned wooden chairs and traditional artwork showcased on their walls.
The appetisers were from a bygone era – wrapped Golden bags and crispy fried omelettes stuffed with pork and shrimp(THB 490). Other starters included the classic Spotted mackerel hor mok and a vegetarian Khaao yum saaiburi. The hor mok was creamy and spicy, while the khaao yum was crunchy and tart.
Masala Recommends: The Roasted duck with grape red curry. This curry packed the most flavour into each bite, with the chilli paste coming through in full force. The fiery heat of the curry was balanced by the sweetness of the halved grapes, and it was served in a beautiful and intricately carved pumpkin.
Restaurant #4: Siam Takashimaya Rose Dining at Unagi Toku 4th Floor
It takes eight years of training to master the art of preparing unagi donburi – the legendary Japanese eel on rice. At Unagi Toku, each eel served is imported from Japan and kept live until an order is made. Once the eel is procured, it is skewered, steamed, and then grilled with a large red uchiwa fan gently guiding the flames. Next, the eel is dipped in a special sticky marinade called Kabayaki Tare, after which the process of steaming and grilling is repeated.
The result: a smoky, sweet, and juicy cut of eel laid on a bed of fragrant Japanese rice. The eel was bursting with the umami flavours of the Tare, with mildly earthy undertones, a flavour typical of freshwater Japanese eels. It was easily the best eel on rice I have ever eaten. For the commitment to craft, technique, and years of training it takes to execute Una-jyu(THB 980), Unagi Toku is well worth the price.
Restaurant #5: Fallabella River Front at Tasana Nakorn Terrace 6th Floor
Located on the 6th floor with sweeping views of the Chao Phraya River and the cityscape beyond, Fallabella River Front is an open-air oasis. First, we were served their specialty drinks. The Godfather (THB 160) was a particularly unique coffee-tail, with a Bloody Mary-style tomato base infused with coffee, tasting equal parts sour and nutty. Another delicious and refreshing mocktail was AboutTime (THB 130), a sweet peach and berry-based tea-tail with peach syrup.
The food served here covers a variety of different cuisines including Thai, Italian, and Japanese offerings. The Bucatini cacio e pepe pasta with spicy chorizo (THB 380) was an amazing example of an Italian dish done simply but elegantly. The pasta was perfectly seasoned and cooked, while the chorizo was spiced with paprika, garlic, and pepper. The signature smoked salmon spago pizza (THB 420) with a mascarpone and mozzarella topping was a highlight, with the saltiness of the salmon contrasting marvellously with the cheeses, as the faint hint of dill added an herbal nuance. Dessert was a freshly baked and cubed sweet marble toast, with three toppings: pandan, chocolate, and Thai tea.
Masala Recommends: The Goma Hamachi with sesame puree (THB 450). The yellowtail was fresh and delicate. The chef instructed us to squeeze the lemon over the sashimi, then dip the fish into the roasted sesame puree, and consume it in one delectable bite. It tasted bright and nutty and was sublimely tender, almost instantly melting in my mouth.
Restaurant #6: Kam’s Roast at Alangkarn 6th Floor
Our final stop, Kam’s Roast, was awarded the prestigious Michelin Star for eight consecutive years and is known as the “Master of Hong Kong-styled roasting.” Nestled by the Alangkarn waterfall, the cascading sound of the water surrounded the restaurant with an inviting atmosphere. Shrimp and pork dumplings in a savoury anchovy broth were a welcome starter, but the Crispy roast pork (THB 350) with the honey marinade was exquisite. The special dipping sauce with Chinese wine paired brilliantly with the rich pork belly, which was an even 50-50 ratio of meat to fat.
The Whole Roast Duck (THB 1,288). With a prep time of one day of marinating, one day of drying, and one day for roasting, Kam’s Roast takes every step necessary to make sure their duck is cooked to perfection. Served with a choice of peanut-based, sesame, and sweet plum dipping sauces, the crispy duck skin and the tender meat underneath make it a true treat for a special occasion.
All in all, ICONSIAM offers its visitors a true gastronomic journey, with a range that is unmatched by any other department store, completely revitalising what the words “mall dining” mean to us. And with its co-creation business model empowering local artisans and cooks and reviving the Chao Phraya waterways, there is no reason not to visit this Bangkok landmark to try out the food for yourself. ICONSIAM celebrated its 5th Anniversary on 9 November, with a grand event that was a spectacular showcase of art, culture, and entertainment; and it continues to add more reasons to stay on anyone’s list of must-visit destinations in Bangkok.