Upmarket Isan Food in Silom – Review of Somtum Der
Som Tum Der is a restaurant that I’ve been meaning to go to since I arrived in Bangkok a year ago. The Silom area, in which it’s located is a place I go to on a near daily basis, so why I’ve not eaten there until now escapes me. Perhaps it’s because it’s so heavily hyped, what with a second branch having opened in New York’s now trendy East Village and the countless reviews online, that I’ve been reluctant to go. You see, I’m nearly always disappointed with recommended restaurants as they usually fail to live up to expectations. Another thing that I don’t like to do is pay extra for substandard food because the restaurant I’m in has aircon. I find this to be the case far too much in Bangkok; with people more interested in taking selfies than what the food tastes like!
Thankfully none of this was the case in Som Tum Der. The food was great. The prices were higher than your average Isan street vendor but that was reflected in the quality of the food on offer. Everything was quite small but well presented and extremely flavoursome. We sat outside as it’s not very hot in Bangkok at the moment but the inside of the restaurant is lovely and bright with seating upstairs and air conditioning for when the weather does get back to being unbearable!
The one complaint I have about Isan food in Bangkok is that a lot of the time it’s very sweet, especially som tum. Not the case here. This is real Isan food – sour and very spicy, just the way I like it. If you don’t like hot food I suggest you stress that to the staff serving you as I asked for ‘ped noi’ for Helen and it almost burnt her face off!
We ordered five dishes:
Somtum Thai – Classic Papaya salad.
It was very spicy with loads of lime juice and just a little sugar which is perfect for me. The papaya and long beans were crisp and fresh and the tomatoes were firm with good flavour. 4/5
Laab Moo Tod – Deep Fried Laab Balls.
Again very spicy. Soft and juicy on the inside, really crispy on the outside and really tangy from the lime juice. 5/5
Gai Tod – Fried Chicken
We got the thigh over the wings and they were probably the star of the show. Super crispy and moist, it was some of the best I’ve had in Bangkok. Served with a perfectly tart Nam Jim Jaew dipping sauce. 5/5
Nua Long Hai – Special House Marinated Beef.
Really tender and a little spicy. In fact, it was so tender I’m sure it had been braised prior to grilling. The sauce was a touch sweet but not overpowering. 3.5/5
Laab Gai – Minced Chicken Salad.
Nice tender chicken with no fatty bits. The ‘dressing’ was spicy and sour with plenty of lime juice and dried chilli. 4/5
If you have time you can check out the full review in the video below…..
All that food with two portions of sticky rice and two bottles of soda water came to 570 baht (around £13). As I said the plates were small but we both left feeling full. I’d highly recommend this restaurant to anyone, especially those a bit wary of street food. It’s a good place to get an introduction to the world of isan food in a clean and cool environment.
Open every day from 11.30 to 2.30 and 4.30 to 10.30.