Friday 27 November 2015

Som Tam Nua ~ Siam Center, Bangkok

We wholeheartedly echo the above words.

Said to be the Best Papaya Salad in Bangkok by CNNGo, Som Tum Nua, with it's very first branch at Siam Square Soi 5, has another branch located at the top floor of Siam Center. For convenience sake, we ate at the Siam Center branch because our next stop was Petite Audrey Cafe on the same floor. Reviews of the Siam Square branch also warned of long lines so we were alright with going with a second best.

A quick look at the restaurant shows that it's a local's food haunt as well.

And the strange part was that we seemed to be the only non-Thai in the restaurant at the time.

The menu is conveniently in English so utilize your finger-pointing skills when ordering.

Specializing in som tum or papaya salad, Som Tum Nua has variations of papaya salad with additional toppings besides the original som tumColour Palates has an image of the menu that gives you an idea of what the variety is like.

We decided to order 2 types of papaya salad - the original Thai Papaya Salad

And the Papaya Salad with Dried Shrimp, Pork Rind and Pork Sausage.

I'm more of a mango salad fan but after Som Tum Nua, I'm now a fan of papaya salad as well! The sauce was a perfect blend of sour and spicy (real spicy!) and the peanuts and dried prawns added the salty element to the dish. The papaya strips were crunchy without the bitterness of an unripe mango so all together, the dish was the perfect representation of Thai food (remember sweet, sour, salty and  spicy?).

Unfortunately, the pork rind and pork sausage didn't enhance the dish for us so we would do without it on our next visit. It'll probably appeal to those who love the extra crunch.

We chose to try the Hot & Spicy Crispy Fish instead of the popular fried chicken and it was a surprisingly good choice. The tasty sauce mixture had a spicy kick that definitely lived up to the 'hot and spicy' name. The fish, fresh and fried to perfection did not have the 'mud scent' that is usually evident in freshwater fish. We kept going back for more even though the heat accumulated with every bite.

After all that heat, we were fortunate that the Thai Rice Floor Noodles was a non-spicy variation. I was surprised to find that the rice floor noodles were not the thin kuey teow (like Pad Thai) but a laksa like noodle. But unlike the translucent, springy laksa noodles, this rice noodles was less opaque and had an almost mushy texture. Despite the texture, the noodles had lots of wok hei and was well-seasoned. They're also generous with the meat, vegetables and pork floss so you get an equal amount of each with every bite. It's a good alternative if you need a carb dish but don't want sticky rice. The condiment served at the table was the same spicy sauce cooked with the fish and it complemented the noodles really well.

The only downside of our experience was their Cha Yen which tasted quite watered down. It explained why most tables had bottles of Coke instead of drinks that required some sort of preparation.

Som Tum Nua is a must visit for those who enjoy spicy Thai food. The prices are decent for a mall restaurant and they have a good variety of dishes to cater to most.

Som Tam Nua's reviews can be found at KampungBoyCityGal, Saimatkong and Eating Thai Food.