Food

Spirit by Jim Thomp­son of­fers a so­phis­ti­cated take on beau­ti­fully pre­sented clas­sic Thai and South­east Asian dishes served in re­fined sur­round­ings, as Matt Wilde dis­cov­ers.

Thailand Tatler - - CONTENTS -

Din­ing venues don’t come more stylish than Spirit by Jim Thomp­son, says Matt Wilde. From sump­tu­ous dé­cor to the au­then­tic flavours and in­no­va­tive pre­sen­ta­tion of Thai and South­east Asian dishes, it’s all done in the best pos­si­ble taste

Aman of con­sid­er­able good taste when it came to an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the finer things in life, Jim Thomp­son, who set out on his own silk road al­most 70 years ago, was well known for his gen­er­ous hos­pi­tal­ity, par­tic­u­larly the fre­quent par­ties he hosted at his beau­ti­fully ap­pointed Bangkok home—so­phis­ti­cated soirees at­tended by a who’s who of the in­ter­na­tional jet-set of the day. Thomp­son was also some­thing of an ad­ven­turer and trav­elled widely through­out South­east Asia, keen to ex­pe­ri­ence dif­fer­ent cul­tures and, of course, ex­plore their di­verse cuisines. Which is why the au­then­tic Thai dishes selected for the menu at Spirit by ex­ec­u­tive chef Mon­tri Viro­jn­vecha­pant are com­ple­mented by ex­otic, some­times iconic, dishes from Laos, Myan­mar, Cam­bo­dia, Viet­nam and Malaysia.

Spirit is all about taste. From the taste­ful aes­thet­ics shown in famed Boif­fils’ de­sign and dé­cor of the restau­rant—floor-to-ceil­ing plate glass win­dows let in an abun­dance of nat­u­ral light and of­fer views of lush trop­i­cal gar­dens, cus­tom-made fur­nish­ings are up­hol­stered in beau­ti­ful Jim Thomp­son silks and bro­cades and trop­i­cal hard­wood sur­faces abound—to chef Mon­tri’s clas­sic dishes, many made with fresh in­gre­di­ents grown on the restau­rant’s own farm in Pak Thong Chai, Nakhon Ratchasima. “In­gre­di­ents re­flect on the taste,

nat­u­rally, so it is very im­por­tant to get the bal­ance right, to con­sider how dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions will add lay­ers of aroma and flavour to a dish,” Mon­tri ex­plains. “We are also work­ing to­wards the farm be­com­ing cer­ti­fied as fully or­ganic in a few years, so our in­gre­di­ents will have the best farm-to-ta­ble pedi­gree.”

Mon­tri, who be­gan his culi­nary jour­ney by prac­tis­ing his cooking in the evenings af­ter his orig­i­nal day job—pre­par­ing recipes taught to him by (among oth­ers) Mom Pat­tama Chakra­pan na Ayud­hya, head chef at the Sukhothai Palace—uses mod­ern tech­niques but also re­spects tra­di­tional Thai culi­nary meth­ods where pos­si­ble. For a num­ber of years the Suphan­buri na­tive was also re­spon­si­ble for the meals of the late Princess Galyani Vad­hana. “She en­joyed Euro­pean cuisines but was par­tic­u­larly fond of salted crab and co­conut milk soup,” he laughs.

The afore­men­tioned tan­ta­lis­ing aro­mas and flavours seem to al­most float up off the page when pe­rus­ing the 46 items on the a la carte menu. Take the de­con­structed ap­pe­tiser of mieng kham nam tan grob, which is roasted cashew nuts, shred­ded co­conut, gin­ger, onion, chilli and diced lime pre­sented in a spun su­gar nest and eaten on wild be­tel leaves. Light and zesty, it gives the taste buds the per­fect wake-up call. As do the tangy de­lights of an­other ap­pe­tiser, lhon kati kan mue 3 paak, three canapés rep­re­sent­ing three dif­fer­ent re­gions of the coun­try com­pris­ing cen­tral plains fer­mented rice, north­east­ern fer­mented pineap­ple, Thai an­chovy rel­ish and north­ern fer­mented pork sausage. Also re­fresh­ingly de­light­ful is dok care yad sai goong thod gab nam prik tua thong nam ma­grood. A bit of a mouth­ful to pro­nounce it may be but this salad of deep-fried hum­ming­bird flow­ers served with a pi­quant mung bean and kaf­fir lime juice dip has a lovely sharp­ness to it.

Highly rec­om­mended as a main course is gaeng kua nong ped toon nam man gab look peach, which is duck con­fit with tangy red curry sauce served with sweet peach slices, cur­ried to­ma­toes and both steamed saf­fron rice and brown rice. The duck is in­fused with the curry sauce and chilled for two days to in­ten­sify the sweet, sour and savoury flavour com­bi­na­tion. It ar­rives at the ta­ble with a won­der­fully crispy skin.

Round­ing off a so­phis­ti­cated meal in­spired by recipes de­vel­oped for the royal court is pathum­marasa triple lo­tus sur­prise, a dessert fea­tur­ing lo­tus stems pre­pared three ways—as a steamed lo­tus cake, a sherry vine­gar lo­tus meringue tart topped with lo­tus petals and as a lo­tus and co­conut ice cream.

Spirit, 16 Soi Somkid. Open daily, noon-3pm and 6pm-11pm. Tel: 0-2700-2567.

tra­di­tional tastes ( Clock­wise from top) Duck con­fit is steeped in red curry sauce for two days and comes with steamed saf­fron rice, brown rice, peach slices and cur­ried to­ma­toes; deep-fried hum­ming­bird flow­ers are served with a spicy kaf­fir lime and split mung bean dip; de­con­structed mieng kham is beau­ti­fully pre­sented in a spun su­gar nest on wild be­tel leaves

Three's com­pany ( Be­low from left) Lhon kati canapes rep­re­sent three dif­fer­ent re­gions of the coun­try; the dessert of pathum­marasa triple lo­tus sur­prise fea­tures lo­tus stems pre­pared three ways

Culi­nary Chic Spirit's smart in­te­ri­ors, de­signed by Boif­fils, fea­ture cus­tom-made fit­tings and fur­nish­ings that make use of Jim Thomp­son silks and other tex­tiles

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