Thursday, February 08, 2007
Cuisine of Jim Thompson
Saladaeng Cafe, a Thai restaurant operated by the Thai Silk Company better known as the Jim Thompson after the name of the co-founder American merchant James Harrison Wilson Thompson who promoted Thai silk to the whole world after WWII while the then government was yet aware of this piece of great national treasure. Jim Thompson was also a prominent figure behind the reorganization of the Oriental Hotel Bangkok during that time. After Jim Thompson had mysteriously disappeared in the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia in 1967, the Thai Silk Company is managed by a foundation with various investors and sponsored by the Royal Thai Government.
James HW Thompson had a reputation as 'Bangkok's leading farang (Western foreigner) host', during his time in Bangkok James entertained countless of noble guests in his charming house by the Klong Maha Nag Canal (known as the Jim Thompson House), his guests enjoyed a delightful evening by the feature of savoring Thai cuisine of a classic feast. Those once talk of the town evening events at the Jim Thompson House were now recreated in Bangkok. Today Jim Thompson has four commercially operated eateries in Bangkok, while Saladaneg Cafe is settled in a historical house in downtown area that seats more than 150 diners inside and outside. Both the decor and the culinary creations tend to preserve the glory of the Jim Thompson House and the guests in the old days with a modern twist. The restaurant features both open-air and enclosed air-conditioned elegant dining room decorated in heavy Indo-Chinese influence while the fare serves authentic Thai cuisine the classic way and essential Western selection plus the mouthwatering pastry as some bonus to the patrons. Top quality ingredients packed in small bag or jar, for anyone would like to try of Thai cooking at home, from lemongrass to brown rice was on the shelves for sale.
Thai food at Saladaeng Cafe is truly superbly delicious, especially to a foreigner palate. I started with the Thompson sampler plate consisting of prawn spring rolls, chicken spring rolls, and shrimp paste cakes; also well worth trying were the lemongrass salad, of which the strong aroma of lemongrass that dominated the salad was a mouthwatering treat, and the namtok moo yang (grilled pork with fresh mint in spicy Issan namtok sauce) one of my favorite appetizer dishes was doing quite well there. Since the deep-fried shrimp cakes in the Thompson sampler plate were so good therefore I opted for a full order of the tord mun goong (deep-fried shrimp paste cakes) for my friends to eat some more of them and that didn't let us down either.
Gaeng or soup was essential on a Thai or Chinese dining table. For soup I ordered the tom yum goong (sour and spicy prawn soup), and tom khai gai (chicken soup in coconut milk with galangal root) to share with my friends. They were both prepared in an authentic way that a Thai grandmother would agree with.
Main dishes I sampled were the grilled chicken set, the steamed cotton fish with herbs, the stir-fried mixed vegetables, and the stir-fried cauliflower with shrimp. The grilled chicken and the cotton fish were less impressive than I had sampled two years ago. The vegetables had a generous use of MSG. Eaten them with plain rice may dilute the overwhelming taste of seasoning, and we did.
My friends and I ordered whole coconut juice and beer to accompany our dinner. The host also offers a wide selection of fruit smoothies and wine from around the globe but wine was not popular among diners here. Home made cakes and desserts were highly recommended after meal and a cup of infusion tea or coffee was also a wise choice.
Saladaeng Cafe by Jim Thompson ***1/4
120/1 Saladaeng Soi 1
off Rama IV Road
Sathorn, Bangkok 10500
Open daily : 11 am - 11 pm
Pay (food only for two): around THB 800