Monday, May 16, 2011

Silks and Spice at the Jim Thompson House, Bangkok

My first encounter with Jim Thompson was a small circular hand mirror that came with a cover, held together by a toggle. It was covered in silk, with little smiling Siamese people. I had the pleasure of visiting the house, built by the man that began the Liberty's of Thailand.

Jim Thompson was an American architect, who after discovering Asia, fell in love with the region and in particular Thailand. He built this amazing house in Bangkok, Thai Style, and collected an enormous amount of Asian antiques. These would serve as creative fuel for the prints that would translate onto silk fabric. He lived the life, until mysteriously disappearing whilst on a walk in Cameron Highlands, Malaysia.

Today the house sets the scene in which Thompson gained inspiration and had space to create his works, that we now enjoy as textiles, handbags, scarves, T-shirts, to name a few items. In full tourist glory, guided tours take place regularly to cart visitors around the large wooden house, dispensing snippets about the architect's life and collections. Many then wonder around the exuberant gardens, taking in the green and pretty.

And once mini elephant printed silk scarves run their course, the restaurant set beside a pool, is the obvious choice to have a bite.

Fresh spring rolls with prawns, lettuce and carrots with a coriander, mint and green chilli sauce, was regrettably disappointing and too simple for such honorary surroundings. What was befitting, was the spicy shredded fish with green beans. I'm told the fish is cooked, the meat shredded, then mixed with red curry paste and fried up with the beans. It's hot, sweet and savoury with a satisfying chewiness.

The green beans were knotted, catching fragments of shredded fish.

For dessert, Sticky Mango Rice was unexpectedly nice. I'm not used to sweet rice - English rice pudding is my immortal enemy - so enjoying the delicate coconutty glutinous rice with ripe mango was a nice surprise. The rest of the menu features other Thai classics, like Pad Thai, papaya salads, green, red curries etc.

Entry to the Jim Thompson house is 100 Baht for adults, and includes a guided tour. Two dishes, dessert, and drinks came to circa 400 Baht per head. It's worth spending half a day in this serene spot, admiring the work of someone so inspired by his environment, whether or not you're partial to silky textiles. 

Jim Thompson House
6 Soi, Kasemsan 2
Rama 1 Road
Tel: (662) 216 7368


Anonymous said...

What great place. Love Thailand. Visited many times. Reading your post makes me want to visit Thailand again.

Hungry Female said...

It was very inspiring, I came away wanting to create a Malaysian homewares collection! A Thai inspired recipe post from you soon? ;-)

The Grubworm said...

Loving the look of the fish and green beans, dying to try cooking it now. I think the knotting of the beans is a brilliant idea (one of those why-didn't-I-think-of-that ideas).

Lovely pictures of JT's house, brought me right back to Bangkok in my head. Shame I couldn't do the same with my body though ;)

Hungry Female said...

Aren't knotted beans a discovery? Imagine the dinner party fun you could have, seeing who could unknot the most whilst in the mouth!

I'm happy the post transported you:-)

Liz said...

I didn't know Jim Thompson was an architect (I have one of his bags) let along had this amazing house in Bangkok!
I see your trip is a culinary bliss!!!! Lots of love xxx
Lizzie pooh!

Hungry Female said...

Hi Liz! Yup, the house was amazing! Miss you xxx