Surprise! You thought the Thailand series was over, but I do have just a few more posts. I have already written a ton of posts on street foods, fun markets, and all the dishes I made in the cooking classes I attended. However, I never actually posted about any of the sit-down restaurants we visited, and there are several that are worth mentioning. This final part of the Thailand series will focus on some of our memorable dining out experiences.
It was late and we were desperately hungry. We had spent the whole afternoon exploring the huge MBK shopping complex in Siam Square.
At the time, we had just arrived in Thailand not too long ago and didn't really have a good grasp of the neighborhood yet. You know the feeling - it's your first time visiting a new place and you're still feeling a bit disoriented. Sure, after a couple days, you learn how to catch the subway from your hotel; you figure out the vibes of the different neighborhoods; and if you're in a foreign country, you start to get a hang of basic cultural rules.
But those first couple days are always a bit tough. Even tougher when you've been on your feet for 8-10 hours and really just want to sit down and eat.
Finally, out of desperation, Bryan started searching around on his phone (yay local sim cards and old unlocked iPhone). He found a place that was only a couple minutes away from the shopping complex. It looked promising because 1) it had been named Bangkok's best som tam restaurant by CNN Travel 2) It had incredibly good reviews on various food sites
Though reviewers warned of the long lines, we decided to take the risk. We were willing to wait a bit if the food was really good.
I'm so glad we did. We ended up not having to wait (score!), and enjoyed some incredible food, including possibly the best fried chicken I've ever had in my life.
First of all, before I get to the fried chicken, let me just explain a bit about what Som Tam is. Som tam is a spicy green papaya salad that's common in the Northern part of Thailand (Isaan cuisine). It typically consists of shredded green papaya pounded together with lime juice, tamarind juice, hot chilies, fish sauce, peanuts, and a host of other ingredients.
The salad is addictive because it's the perfect blend of savory umami, sweet, spicy, and tart. It's cool, refreshing, and a delightful blend of textural contrasts: the crunchy peanuts, crispy vegetables, and juicy tomatoes.
At Som Tam Nua, they specialize in som tam, so they have all sorts of fun variations you can try. We tried an unusual version that I believe included crab (definitely not your typical som tam). It was very spicy (everything in Thailand is spicy!) but pretty good.
I honestly don't know what this was called (we were still trying to learn the ropes of all these different types of Thai dishes we had never heard of!) but it was essentially flavorful noodles (sort of like pad Thai but with thinner noodles) topped with a dried pork floss-like topping. I remember enjoying it quite a bit.
Sticky rice is the most common type of rice eaten at Isaan (Northern Thai) restaurants, so we went ahead and ordered some. You can see the Singha beer in the background, one of Thailand's local beers. In general, we found Thai beers to be quite light. I'm guessing that when it's that hot and humid outside all the time, you virtually never feel like drinking a dark, heavy beer.
One of our favorite dishes was the Sour Sausage (sai krok), a grilled fermented sausage that's savory but also has a deep sourness that really adds complexity to the dish.
It seemed like every single review raved about the fried Spicy Chicken Wings, so we knew we had to order it.
Wow, we were not disappointed.
Isaan cuisine is known for its fried chicken. These fried chicken wings were just lightly battered yet fried up to be wonderfully crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. A generous heap of fried garlic completed the dish, adding a strong, garlicky pop to the entire dish. These were so addictive, I seriously wanted to order another basket.
Overall we had a great time at Som Tam Nua. I can totally see why it's so popular. The food is fantastic. There was not a single item that we did not enjoy. Prices were extremely reasonable (almost all food in Thailand is relatively inexpensive) and service was fast. If I were shopping in the Siam Square area again, I would most definitely consider coming back here.
The Entire Thailand Series
Thip Samai, Best Pad Thai in Bangkok?
Raan Jay Fai, Best Drunken Noodle in Bangkok
Street Foods of Bangkok, Part I
Street Foods of Bangkok, Part II
Fun Fruits in Thailand
Maeklong Railway Market
Floating Markets (Damnoen Saduak)
Cooking Classes + Recipes
Somphong Thai Cooking School
Som Tam (Papaya Salad)
Thai Panaeng Curry Chicken
Bananas In Golden Syrup
BaiPai Thai Cooking School
Larb Gai (Laap Gai)
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