[Bangkok] Som Tam Nua (ส้มตำนัว)

Just got back from a short trip to the land of a thousand smiles! Despite it being one of the most popular getaway destinations for Singaporeans, the last time I’d been to Thailand was a decade ago. Wish I’d known earlier what I was missing out on.

As always I researched on places to eat at (Hint: Eating Thai Food is a lifesaver) well before the trip, so for our first dinner I dragged my party to Som Tam Nua, located in an alley right across the road from Siam Paragon. This place specializes in Isaan food, which is known for being far more spicy and pungent than Central Thai cuisine (think Phad Thai and green curry). Because of the proximity between the Isaan region and Laos, the Isaan cooking style is heavily influenced by Laotian cuisine.

Som Tam Khai Kem (Papaya salad with preserved egg), THB 69.

Obviously you’d have to order the dish the restaurant was named after. Som Tam Nua offers a huge variety of papaya salads – I counted 9 on the English menu, and I suspect there’s plenty more on the Thai-only menu. We went with the preserved egg for reasons purely superficial. Green papaya may taste bland when consumed on its own, but it’s the perfect canvas for soaking up the intensely spicy and sour tamarind and lime juice. The eggs provided a nice balance of saltiness to the dish, and overall it worked great as an appetiser. One of the best som tams I’ve had.

Pad Pak Ga Ched (Stir-fried water mimosa), THB 85.

Water mimosa is so… crunchy. Not my favorite veggie, but we had to have our greens and this seemed to be the only option on the menu. I did enjoy the spiciness of the dish and the little pork bits, so I’m probably gonna go with the larb moo (spicy pork salad) next time.

Peek Gai Tod (Chicken wings), THB 98 for the small portion.

These were SO GOOD we regretted not ordering the large portion. The wings were lightly spiced with a mild curry paste, fried to a crisp, then generously coated with bits of fried garlic so they shattered with every bite. Undisputed star dish of the night. GET A BASKET FOR YERSELF.

Kor Moo Yang (Charbroiled pork neck), THB 89.

These slices of charcoal grilled pork neck are well worth an order. They’re tender and slightly sweet, though I wouldn’t necessarily call them surreal as most other reviews on Som Tam Nua have. I stupidly passed over the nam jim jaew (a sour and spicy dipping sauce for grilled meats) and had these on their own. Only realised by the time we were done with the dish that I’d been doing something wrong. Never ignore the dips, people!

Larb Pla Krob (Fried tilapia), THB 105.

I really loved the tangy mixture of lime juice and fish sauce that this deep fried tilapia was served in. The fish was crispy and topped with onions, mint leaves and dried chillies. Would have enjoyed it more if the fish hadn’t been so bony. We were straining to scrape the flesh from every crevice we could reach, but it still didn’t add up to very much. Meh.

Overall this was a pleasant first meal to kick-start our Bangkok experience. Certainly not mindblowing (save for the wings maybe) like many blogs make it out to be, but decent value for your baht. Plus English menus are provided! Though they’re a truncated version of the Thai menu, I guess you’ll have to make do. Or you could be adventurous and point at random things on the Thai menu. I hope you end up with a sheep’s brain.

Som Tam Nua‘s very accessible location also translates to a 30-minute wait on average, but you could just visit earlier like we did to avoid the dinner crowd. We arrived at the restaurant at 5.45 pm on a Thursday evening and were seated immediately. When we left the restaurant an hour later there was a queue of maybe 20 people outside. I smirked a little at them and headed off to do some post-dinner shopping in the very pretty vicinity of Siam Square.

Som Tam Nua (ส้มตำนัว)
392/14 Siam Square Soi 5
(Address in Thai: 392/14 ซอยสยามสแควร์ 5 ถนนพระราม 1 แขวงปทุมวัน เขตปทุมวัน กรุงเทพฯ)
They’ve also got a second, more sanitized outlet in swanky Siam Center just across the road.

Opening hours: 10.45 am to 9.30 pm daily.

Directions: Take Exit 4 out of Siam station (Sukhumvit and Silom lines). Look out for the sign “5” indicating where Soi 5 is, then take a left turn into the alley. You’ll see Som Tam Nua on your left after about 30 metres.

4 Responses to “[Bangkok] Som Tam Nua (ส้มตำนัว)”
  1. That looks amazing! The Kor Moo Yang looks amazing. Not too much fat on them. What was the name of the sauce that was served with the Kor Moo Yang?

  2. Annie L. says:

    This is my all time favorite place for Somtum!

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