Somtam Nua

Quality Isaan food in the heart of Bangkok's shopping mecca.

Average: 3 (1 vote)

Always fenced by a long queue of Asian tourists and young locals, this restaurant serves quality Isaan food in a casual setting. The menu covers various style of of somtam (papaya salad), as well as other Northeastern favorites like tom sab (spicy pork soup) and grilled pork neck. But the crowds mostly come for the fried chicken—beautifully marinated and with perfectly crispy skin—and somtam thai mua—papaya salad mixed with crispy pork, rice noodles and Northern sausage.

The ever-bustling Somtam Nua is a Siam Square landmark, drawing in throngs of trendy young people to its casual and no-frills setting. Which means it takes patience and determination to eat here (call to reserve your table at least 30 minutes in advance). What’s all the fuss about? In a way, Somtam Nua has redefined Isaan food Bangkok-style; it’s the Fuji of Thai country cuisine: approachable, fun and easy to eat. But Fuji comparisons may be a bit harsh. By street standards, the somtam here is definitely far less saep and spicy but the papaya is particularly crunchy and fresh—although it’s also very heavy on the lime. Even if Isaan taxi drivers would probably shake their heads disapprovingly at this particular balance of flavors, we find Somtam Nua refreshing; and clearly our fellow Bangkokians do too. The namesake dish, somtam nua (with seafood, B75), stands out for its mix of textures: from Northern sausage to crispy pork skins, rice noodles and chopped mango. You should also try the finger-licking-good deep-fried chicken (B98/130) served in little baskets and sprinkled with chopped condiments. The tom saep (B97) has the same flavor profile as the somtam (lots of lime, not much chili) but the deboned pork ribs and mushrooms are so tender, we won’t hold it against them. And while meats, like the recommended grilled pork neck (B98), come in smallish portions, their quality is to the same standards as everything else on the menu. The food may not be quite worthy of the time you spend queuing for a table, but this is still really good stuff by Siam standards (in case you hadn’t noticed, restaurants in this hood tend to seriously suck). Add on fairly fast service, a basic but cozy décor, and reasonable prices, and you’ve got a great recipe for a casual post-shopping or pre-movie dinner.

Venue Details
Address: Somtam Nua, 392/14-15 Siam Square Soi 5, Bangkok, Thailand
Phone: 02-251-4880
Area: Siam
Cuisine: Isaan
Price Range: B
Opening hours: daily 9:45am-9pm
Reservation recommended
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