Some friends I know have restaurants they return to time and again be it in Singapore or other nearby cities they visit. So do I and Som Tam Nua in Bangkok’s very central Siam Square Soi 5 is one of the restaurants on my repeat visit list. I discovered this Isaan food gem together with my sisters early last year when they flew into Bangkok to visit me during an extended work trip.
For the uninitiated, Isaan is the northeastern region of Thailand and its food is largely influenced by the nearby Laos. Sticky rice accompanies every meal and dishes are usually spicy and pungent (in a good way!).
We came by on a Sunday, 15 minutes before Som Tam Nua’s opening time at 11am and there was already a queue starting to form. By 11.10am, the restaurant was almost full. Staff speak little to no English but no fear, sit yourselves, ask for the English menu, look out for all the items marked with a star and do the universal pointing language when you order.
If you’re a fan of fried chicken wings, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE order them here. These are really the bomb and there’s a fairly long waiting time for it as well so just go ahead and order the larger portion. No regrets, I promise.
The other outstanding dishes we always order are the fried fish, spicy minced pork salad (laab moo), tom yum soup, sticky rice and of course Som Tum! I’m salivating just thinking about the dishes. My sister also swears by the iced coffee which reminds us of just the way our first nanny made it for herself when she was with us two decades ago. We know only because she always snuck us some of it.
These fried chicken wings are honestly one of the best I’ve had! Must-must-order.
Another must-order. Fried fish doused in a fish sauce laced tangy lime dressing, topped with loads of raw onions, spring onions, mint leaves and chilli.
Laab Moo – a spicy minced pork salad. I can’t recall what it was called on the menu, but I just told the wait staff “laab-moo” and they got it.
Isaan sticky rice that come in little straw canisters.
Tom Yum soup with some fish slices and straw mushrooms. The Hubbs insisted on ordering a second helping.
Som Tum – a green papaya salad! A salad of rice vermicelli, shrimp, tomatoes, long beans, slices of green papaya and a sprinkling of toasted nuts.
Our nostalgic iced coffee 🙂
Som Tam Nua
392-14 Siam Square Soi 5 (Just keep walking along Soi 5; it’s a relatively short lane so you won’t miss it)
Open daily from 11am to 9pm