Thailand’s Iron Chef Cooks Ancient Recipes in a Deserted Top Notch Restaurant

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Siam Wisdom opened this past April. It’s the restaurant of Thai Iron Chef Chumphol Jaengprai.

It was recommended to me by the owner of Elephant Jumps in Northern Virginia, not as a place he’s been but as one that he wanted to try. Tom told me that he was confident that Chef Chumphol ‘knows how to cook.’

We were invited inside and sat down in the bar area. The restaurant was a few minutes from opening, and the chef was having his pre-meeting with the staff. So we waited until they were ready to show us upstairs.

After about 10 minutes we were taken up to the dining room.

The concept is that you select from three styles. There’s Thai Ancient, Classic, and Innovative.

Of the three set menus to choose from we selected the ‘Thai Ancient’ menu, which follows (and you can click to enlarge). The concept is recipes for dishes that are hundreds of years old. It was THB 1800++ per person.

The restaurant was so quiet, so deserted, there was only one other table occupied the entire time I was there. The wait staff was bored, looking around at the artwork.

Liking Thai food alone isn’t enough to like the ‘ancient’ menu — I think you probably have to be interested in the flavors and in thinking deeply about them, because they’ll the dishes really won’t be familiar.

I would return — and I’d try the Innovative menu. Having done the ancient menu, it was fascinating but it was far enough away from my expectations and preferences that I’d want to see what else they can do. I might have enjoyed the ancient recipes even more if I had someone explaining to me what was going into the dishes and why so that I wasn’t just tasting but understanding. (Wait staff of course tell you what each dish is, with limited English, but the ancient menu calls out I think for context.)

, my guess it would more closely match my expectations

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Thanks for this post. The local-info posts probably don’t attract the same volume of responses as the political / minorities behaving badly posts do but they’re one of the things that distinguish this site from so many similar alternatives.

  2. Plus, wouldn’t mind hearing about what some of the ancient dishes were, and how they tasted.

    Sadly, from your description, this restaurant may well not be around when I next make it back to Thailand.

  3. I’m paying close attention to these posts, since we will be in Singapore, Bangkok, and Hong Kong for the first time this coming Feb.

    As for Siam Wisdom, I’m not surprised that almost no one was there. Trip Advisor has a total of 14 reviews. And several of them comment on how difficult the location is to find, with even the cab drivers having no clue.

    Plus the forced 3 menus, which everyone at the table has to share. If someone wants Classic, and another wants Innovative, one of them is going to lose out. Which of course is common with set ‘degustation’ menus at fine dining places. But usually there is an a la carte option, which Siam Wisdom only offers at lunch.

    As with the T/A reviews, you mention “limited English”, which I’m sure is true. Even the website is written in broken English, with poor formatting. Surely they could have paid someone to clean that up:

    “Siam Wisdom is Fine Dining Restaurant, serving Thai Authenticfood and well preparing ac cording to ancient, classic and innovative recipes. We especially emphasize on interacting between flavors and premium quality of ingredients. Our menus are flexible related to Thai seasons; summer, rainy, and winter. That’s mean; menus are changed every 4 months. Additionally, 3 concepts are concerned; (1.) Ancient;most of menus are hard to find in the present day.They used to be served in the royal palace with the finely traditional cooking such as Kao-Chae; Cooked Rice.”

    Cooked Rice? Be still my beating heart. 🙂

    Despite having been open for nine months, the links on the website for “Menu”, “Meet Chef”, etc are non-functional. Including the link for “Reservation”.

    None is this is acceptable at this price point.

    2 set menus, and a bottle of wine, after tax and tip, is going to cost at minimum US $200. Which may not seem much by DC standards, but is quite a lot for Thailand

    With an obscure location, high prices, limited English spoken, and a forced menu choice, it’s not going to appeal to many non-foodie Western tourists, who are the main ones that could afford it.

  4. Hi Gary, thanks for the amazing report.
    If I could make a suggestion, would you consider mentioning the name of the dish/ingredients below each picture? It will help me (and some others) even more !

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