Som Tam Nua

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I’m in a cooking rut this week.  (Maybe it’s the result of going Top Chef cold-turkey after the All-Stars finale last week?)   In search of inspiration, I went through my giant recipe binder in search of something fun and different for dinner.  (It just graduated to this 3-inch binder…we’ll be sending it to college next year.)  No shortage of recipes here.  But nothing inspiring.

In honor of the Chakri Day holiday I went through all of the recipes on this blog, and was surprised to see how many of them there are!  I thought that might spark the cooking creativity.  But still nothing came.

Fortunately, there’s no shortage of delicious things to eat in Bangkok for those of us who are avoiding our kitchens.  In particular CNNGo’s 2010 Best Eats list has been tempting me.  The list for Bangkok included an entire som tam category, which was just begging for Frank and I to tackle it.  We started with Som Tam Nua, a super casual little spot that always has a line out the door.  Som Tam Nua offers several varieties of som tum plus the go-to som tam fixins’ of fried chicken and sticky rice.  We had basic som tam, which we devoured, largely because it was wonderful fresh and perfectly, tongue-tinglingly spicy. (The pork rinds were a nice touch – I think Frank had already nabbed the one in the upper left corner before I could snap the shot.)

We also had these spicy pork noodles, which were tossed in a rich, savory sauce and topped with more pork rinds (crushed this time).  Also tongue-tinglingly spicy.  I recommend several glasses of Som Tam Nua’s lime iced tea in addition to the som tam.

Som Tum Nua does not mess around with what I believe might be the very best part of the som tam experience…sticky rice.  The restaurant has a steamer that looks like a converted mini-fridge of the type that one might find holding beers in the garage.  There is a spout for adding water to the machine and the individual steamers come out with perfectly cooked, slightly gummy rice.  Those sauces were so good that we needed an extra container of sticky rice just for dipping.

I’m sure the cooking inspiration will return eventually.  In the meantime, there will be plenty of som tam.

Som Tam Nua
392/14 Soi Siam Square 5, Rama 1 Road

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About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

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