Siam Elephant

Fine dining and totally Thai

by Miss Terry Diner

Fine dining European restaurants are not too difficult to find in Pattaya, but to find truly fine dining Thai is a little more difficult. A few weeks ago I was invited for the launch of the Siam Elephant Restaurant, attached to the Siam Bayshore Hotel, and I was impressed, so we vowed to come back later and review the venue and its food.

It is situated at the very top end of Walking Street, next to the Bali Hai Pier, but it is best to come into the Siam Bayshore from Pratamnak (Second) Road, and wend your way round the hotel gardens to the Walking Street side. You can walk through the hotel to the Siam Elephant, but it is better to walk the 50 meters down Walking Street and come in via the stone elephant statues, the bridge and the lily ponds. There you have the choice of dining in the open air, but under cover, or continue on inside to the air-conditioned area.

The immediate impression is one of elegance. But a very Thai elegance, too. Silk tapestries, pictures of elephants, wooden louvered blinds on the windows, going along with starched white tablecloths and bespoke stainless steel cutlery featuring elephants on the end of the handles. Drinks coasters are elephant shaped, as are many of the sauce dishes. Background music is also Thai, being melodies played on the traditional Khim stringed instrument.

The elegance carries on to the menu. Wooden covers with the menu concertina folded inside. Having failed road map folding many times, I was initially a little worried, but the charming waitress soon put us right. The items are indicated in Thai script, then an English translation with a description of the dish again in English after that, to assist the novices in Thai cuisine.

We tried many dishes, beginning with the tung tong (golden parcels), deep-fried and stuffed with shrimp and water chestnuts (B. 150), and ma hor, which was sliced pineapple topped with saut้ed pork with ginger and fresh herbs, which was a delightful appetizer, also at B. 150.

After a short while we began our selections of main courses which included the kaeng massaman neua beef curry (B. 220), a kaeng phed ped yang which is sliced BBQ duck in red curry (B. 220), pla salmon tod samun-prai being curried fried salmon in herb sauce (B. 330), chu-chee koong nang which is fried river prawns with red curry and coconut cream (B. 250) and a pad pak ruam mitr, a saut้ed vegetables in oyster sauce dish (B. 95).

Believe me when I say that each one was a masterpiece in its own right. The massaman was sweet and succulent, and the chu-chee prawns just had that little hint of spice. The salmon was also notable for the subtle tastes.

Madame and our guest managed to try the desserts, having the khao neaw mamuang (mango with sticky rice B. 150) and the pra pae-nee si tuay, a mix and match collection of very Thai ingredients (B. 120).

Undoubtedly in our minds, this restaurant is currently tops in Pattaya for Thai cuisine fine dining. The management is to be congratulated for sticking rigidly to the Thai concept. We experienced dishes we had never tried before and were not disappointed by any of them. The meal was unhurried, the service unobtrusive and the surroundings perfect. Add in the flavorsome food, some pleasant wine (the house white is eminently drinkable) and good company and you have the perfect evening. While the individual dishes may cost a little more than in the usual Thai restaurants, our bill came to less than B. 600 per person (excluding wines), which is relatively inexpensive compared to other fine dining establishments.

This is the place to take newcomers to Thailand to present them with a different cuisine partaken of in exemplary surroundings. Or a place to indulge yourself on special occasions, or on non-special occasions! There is no one who will leave this restaurant unimpressed. Very highly recommended.

Siam Elephant, Siam Bayshore Hotel, 559 Pratamnak Road, South Pattaya, telephone 038 428 678-81. Open from 6 p.m. until 10.30 p.m. seven days. Secure parking within hotel car park.