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Somtum Der

Restaurants, Thai East Village
 (Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz)
Photograph: Paul WagtouiczSomtum Der
 (Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz)
Photograph: Paul WagtouiczPeek kai (chicken-wing soup) at Somtum Der
 (Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz)
Photograph: Paul WagtouiczSa poak kai tod der (deep-fried chicken thigh) at Somtum Der
 (Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz)
Photograph: Paul WagtouiczTum Thai kai kem (papaya salad with salted egg) at Somtum Der
 (Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz)
Photograph: Paul WagtouiczGrilled sticky rice at Somtum Der
 (Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz)
Photograph: Paul WagtouiczMool nue ding kati sod (coconut-milk-marinated pork skewers) at Somtum Der
 (Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz)
Photograph: Paul WagtouiczSteamed rice at Somtum Der
 (Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz)
Photograph: Paul WagtouiczSomtum Der
 (Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz)
Photograph: Paul WagtouiczSomtum Der
 (Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz)
Photograph: Paul WagtouiczSomtum Der

Time Out says

Friendly warning! We're working hard to be accurate. But these are unusual times, so please check that venues remain open.

If the refreshing flavors of Somtum Der in the East Village are any indication, Isan cuisine is the antidote to the too-sweet noodles Americans commonly mistake for Thai food. Take a seat in the bright, wood-paneled dining room, and soon you’ll see why the restaurant, which also boasts locations in Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City, recently earned a Michelin star.

Som tum is the namesake dish of the eatery, a papaya salad made in several variations. Choose the Tum Thai Kai Kem ($11). It’s flecked with bits of soft-cooked, salted egg yolks, which provide a soothing counterpoint to the heat of the chilies. It hurts so good, so get it as spicy as you can stand. The grill adds smoky notes to skewers of coconut-scented sticky rice ($4), which are chewy, addictive and necessary to put out the flames.

Ground pork, herbaceous greens and fiery peppers mingle in the Larb Moo ($9), a dish that makes you wonder how you lived before it. Another star is the Sa Poak Kai Tod Der ($8), chicken thighs pounded flat and fried to a greaseless finish—the Thai schnitzel of your dreams. There are some recognizable Central Thai noodle dishes, too, but the Isan food shines the brightest, especially when paired with an ice-cold Singha beer.

Service is warm and friendly, if a bit erratic—it can be hard to find someone to fill water glasses, especially in the midst of a chili-induced hot flash. Tables fill up on weeknights, and missteps are few: The Moo Ping Kati Sod ($10), pork skewers marinated in coconut milk, were drab compared to other plates, and the pungent herbs in the Gaeng Om Kai ($11), an Isan chicken soup, render the dish overwhelming. But overall, Somtum Der is an oasis of delicious, authentic Thai food.




Address: 85 Ave A
New York
Cross street: between 5th and 6th Sts
Transport: Subway: F to Lower East Side–Second Ave
Price: Average entrée: $10. AmEx, MC, V
Opening hours: Daily noon–11:30pm
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