Bangkok’s vast array of dining options gains an important new specialization in 2012 with the inauguration of dinner service at the Thompson Restaurant and Wine Bar, which focuses on the still little-known pleasures of combining great Thai dishes with excellent wines, on the grounds of the Jim Thompson House Museum.
“What we are doing is true to the Jim Thompson tradition of interweaving the best of East and West. We bring you the fresh, authentic flavors of Thailand, paired with superb wines from the Old World and New,” says Patrick K. Booth, director of Jim Thompson’s food and beverage.
Situated in the renowned Museum’s tranquil, lushly gardened compound in the heart of the central city’s premier Siam district, the Restaurant offers an unusually marvelous setting in which to toast the marriage of Thai cuisine and fine wines from around the world.
The new dinner service, hosted from 7 pm – 11 pm, brings to Thailand a concept that has captured the hearts of Singapore’s discerning fans of Thai food, at Jim Thompson’s flagship wine bar and restaurant there, winner of the respected Miele Guide award for the city’s best Thai restaurant from 2009-12. Mr. Booth developed that restaurant’s approach to combining Thai food and wine, and is now introducing it in Bangkok.
The wine list and pairings have also been shaped by Asrulnazry Aseri, wine and service director, a former sommelier who joined the Singapore restaurant after its launch in 2009. Jim Thompson’s extensive list of wines, champagnes and dessert wines by the bottle and glass is tailored to offer excellence at all price levels for both oenophiles and wine newcomers, Mr. Asrulnazry says.
With 80 labels, the list features quality choices from 1,000 to 15,000 baht for imported bottles, as well as nine fine selections available by the glass. One highlight is Moet & Chandon champagne by the glass. The restaurant puts special emphasis on serving excellent house wines, French labels that mate beautifully with many Thai dishes, at just 200 baht per glass. Premium wines by the glass range from 300-450 baht, including premium rose wines.
“It’s not about buying the most expensive wine, but pairing the right wine with the right food. You might pair a very expensive wine with the wrong Thai dish and not enjoy it at all. On the other hand, you will almost certainly find delight pairing our 200 baht house pour with tom yom gung,” Mr. Asrulnazry says.
“Because it’s difficult to mate one single wine with all the different courses of a Thai meal, we have taken special care to offer many good selections by the glass, including sparkling wine and champagne. Our dishes are truly Thai, but to pair them with wines, we like to serve them to you via the Western approach of one course at a time, moving from appetizer and salad, through soup, to main dishes, and then finishing with dessert,” Mr. Asrulnazry says.
“We believe you’ll discover new things about both wine and Thai cuisine when they are paired harmoniously. Wine adds a refreshing, light quality to a Thai meal compared to other beverages,” Mr. Booth says
Each evening, the restaurant offers two different set dinners, each with five courses and four wines, including champagne and dessert wine. In addition, the menu features some 50 a la carte dishes, as well as changing specials and desserts. The focus is on definitive versions of classic Thai offerings. Jim Thompson chefs worked long testing and refining traditional recipes to capture the essence of authentic Thai cuisine.
In addition to these classic dishes, the Restaurant features many of its own specialties. Some are innovations created by the restaurant’s own chefs. Others were discovered in Thailand through a monthly series of “cooking challenge” competitions held among the hundreds of people working at Jim Thompson’s fashion and textile operations. Winning dishes, which were awarded cash prizes by Jim Thompson’s tasting jury, include both new creations by individual cooks and family recipes handed down through the generations in Bangkok and the Thai provinces. This approach is one of several ways the restaurant conveys the true spirit of Thai cooking, which is a vital mixture of tradition and invention, according to Mr. Booth.
The restaurant seats 200, including 40 outdoor seats along the reflecting pool and 40 in the upstairs wine bar. Parking spaces are available for up to 40 cars. The restaurant is in the compound of the Jim Thompson House Museum, on Soi Kasemsan 2, Rama 1 Road, across from the National Stadium. It can be reached by taxi, car or the BTS Skytrain stop at National Stadium. It is a short stroll down the soi, but Jim Thompson offers a complementary golf cart service to take guests back to the station after dinner, and can also pick them up before dinner on request.
The new dinner service expands Jim Thompson’s hospitality offerings, which include restaurants in Thailand, Japan and Singapore. These restaurants are an extension of Jim Thompson’s philosophy of bringing the best of Thai culture to the world.
The company was founded in Bangkok in 1950 by the American architect Jim Thompson and six Thai investors to make silk textiles and fashions. Thompson disappeared mysteriously on vacation in Malaysia in 1967, but his initiative succeeded in reviving Thailand’s craft weaving industry. Today the Thai-owned firm is the world’s largest maker of hand-woven fabrics, with some 3,500 employees in Southeast Asia, Japan, the United States and Europe.
“In the 1950s and 1960s, Jim Thompson was known around the world for the dinners he hosted at his Bangkok home for luminaries like Anne Baxter, Somerset Maugham, and Robert Kennedy. Now we are welcoming guests back, and helping them celebrate with good wine,” Mr. Booth says.