The pungent flavors of Northern Thai cuisine rolled country's capital with the opening of Somtum Der. Owner Thanaruek Laoraowirodge, known to his friends has Eh, is on a mission to share the authentic local cuisine from his hometown of Sakhon Nakorn in Isaan, with Bangkok dwellers. "I want to bring the real taste of som tam from my region," he explains. Eh argues that the som tam, a traditional Thai green papaya salad, in Bangkok is too sweet, and is lacking in the key ingredient for success—plaa ra, a fermented fish sauce made by pickling a variety of fish. "The further South you get, the sweeter the som tam tastes," laments Eh. There are 20 different kinds of som tam on offer at Somtum Der, prepared fresh at the bar in the center of the small restaurant. The bartender pounds the ingredients in a traditional Thai mortar and the bar is lined in jars brimming with aromatic ingredients, from marinated mussels to fresh chilies. So whether you like your som tam fishy, tart, sweet, super spicy or some mix therein, at Somtum Der there's a som tam for everyone, along with other northeastern favorites like grilled chicken and sticky rice. Clearly, something is working here—the restaurant has since gone on to open a branch in New York. Still, we think the original is best, in part due to its locally inspired cocktails and home-style recipes from the staff's families.
Tel: +66 2 632 4499