The legacy lives on with warm hospitality and authentic delicacies
Jim Thompson was, and still is, known by many names: “The Thai Silk King”, “Legendary American of Thailand”, and “Bangkok’s leading farang host”, amongst many others. Writers, diplomats, and even Hollywood stars, all flocked to dine at his table to enjoy not just his great company but to sample the myriad of Thai delicacies served as well. So it’s no wonder his house too earned the titles of “the talk of the town” and “the city’s most celebrated social centre”.
Ensuring his legacy carries on, the Jim Thomson Restaurant & Wine Bar, located on the grounds of the Jim Thompson Museum complex, was founded almost two decades ago on the three pillars of art, food, and hospitality. Situated just in front of the entrance to the house, the restaurant too features traditional Thai architecture and antique finishings. Lime green walls are offset against the dark wooded furniture and opulent silk furnishings—all Jim Thompson Thai silk, of course—give it that final touch of elegance.
Visit early for lunch, followed by a guided tour around the house, or visit the house and its tropical jungle-garden in the late afternoon and enjoy an early dinner. We opted for the latter to take advantage of the cooler afternoon temperature. The lunch and dinner menus differ slightly, with a more extensive menu being offered at dinner.
The menu celebrates traditional dishes using authentic recipes, which the proud head chef Somkiat Buranachakorn—who has over 30 years of experience—never wavers from. Refreshments in the form of a Butterfly Pea & Lime Cooler (B100) were a welcome sight after an afternoon wondering through the museum. Soon, after a plate of Cho Muang (B290), steamed tapioca dumplings filled with chicken, arrived at the table. Although they can be a somewhat heavy dish, we finished off all of these lip-smacking bite-sized nibbles. Phad Thai Goong Sod (B320) followed next, with the stir-fried noodles and giant tiger prawns served the traditional way inside a pancake-thin egg omelette.
But it was the Seau Rong Hai (B540), Isaan-style grilled rib-eye served with traditional nam jim jeaw made from ground roasted rice, shallots, chilli, and tamarind, that proved to be the favourite. The Australian cut of beef had a rich buttery texture and was incredibly tender. Chef Somkiat beamed with pride as he explained that this was from the marbling of the cut. Seasoned to perfection, the meat could be enjoyed with or without the sauce.
After stuffing ourselves with dumplings, noodles, and beef, Tom Som Pla Ga Pong Khao (B300 single serving/B460 large portion), a traditional hot and sour tamarind soup with sea bass provided a sweet, light end to the meal.
Reflecting back on the meal, the hospitality, and the restaurant’s surroundings, there was no doubt in our minds why Jim Thompson’s house was “the talk of the town”.
By Kelly Harvey
Jim Thompson Restaurant at Jim Thompson Museum Complex
6 Soi Kasem 2, Rama 1 Rd.
Open daily: 9am-5pm, 6pm-11pm
Tel: 02 612 3601