Alphabet City, East Village, Restaurants

Thai Fried Chicken and More at Somtum Der – NYC

February 16, 2014 | 4 Comments
tom saab kradook on @ somtum der fried chicken @ somtum der
super peek kai @ somtum der papaya salad w/ crab @ somtum der

For the longest time, there wasn’t a great Thai restaurant in the East Village. There were a few decent ones I’d order from once in a while, but none I’d ever recommend to a friend. Not even the popular Isan (Northeastern Thai) restaurant that opened a few years ago on 1st Avenue. I never understood the hype. Somtum Der, the latest Isan-Thai restaurant to open in the neighborhood, however, changes everything.

fried chicken @ somtum der

Just the Sa Poak Kai Tod Der ($8), deep-fried chicken thigh with garlic, makes Somtum Der worth the visit. The meat, being all dark, is juicy and well-seasoned with a crackly, crunchy skin made more delicious topped with lots of fried garlic. The chicken comes with a fishy chili sauce on the side, but so flavorful, it really isn’t needed.

papaya salad w/ crab @ somtum der

The papaya salads are good as well. Most recently, instead of the classic, I ordered the Tum Poo-Plara which is a papaya salad with salted raw field crabs. Heavy on the fish sauce, at first bite, I was taken aback, but eaten with coconut rice ($4), it was quite tasty. Moreover, the crabs reminded me of gejang, Korean soy-marinated raw crabs, of which I’m a huge fan. And speaking of the coconut rice, this is a must-order. You may be tempted to order the sticky rice ($3) which comes in a cute bamboo basket, but if you care about your taste buds, resist. The coconut rice is always fluffy and wonderfully fragrant with the scent of coconut milk. The sticky rice, on the other hand, is often times hard and dried out.

tom saab kradook on @ somtum der

If sour Thai soups are your thing, you’re in luck. There are four on the menu. My favorite is the Tom Saab Kradook On ($12), a spicy and sour Isan soup full of tender pork chunks and soft pieces of cartilage that crumble easily between your teeth.

super peek kai @ somtum der

If you go to Somtun Der, the lunch specials come with either a small order of the Tom Saab Kradook On or the Super Peek Kai, a spicy sour soup with chicken wings. I like both, but prefer the pork because I have thing for pork and cartilage. Don’t we all?

taro in condensed coconut milk @ somtum der

I adore Thai desserts, and the Taro in Condensed Coconut Milk ($6) served warm with lots of chewy glutinous taro squares doesn’t disappoint.

snow ice @ somtum derSadly, the Snow Ice with syrup ($6), does. While impressive in height, and definitely “fun” in appearance, it tastes of artificial syrup minus 75% the sugar. Also, I don’t understand why it’s served with slices of bread at the bottom. Baffling.

The rest of the food is not. Dear friends, the East Village finally has a Thai restaurant worth writing about.

Somtum Der
85 Ave A (b/n 5th & 6th St; map)
New York, NY 10009

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4 Comments

  • Danny at 9:48 pm on February 16, 2014

    that’s a shame that the towering ice isn’t actually good. it looks like fun. that chicken though… i gotta go try that chicken.

  • LUNCH at 12:39 pm on February 26, 2014

    mmmmm

  • SUINIEE at 11:34 am on March 21, 2014

    hey! Remember me? We met in NYC at take 31 restaurant. Hope that you enjoyed dining there with the coupon that we gave you! I am back to Korea but keep watching your amazing postings. eww mouth watering… I also went to fried chicken place near to Hongdae district today. You know how great fried chickens are here and mine was also garlic spicy one. If you could visit Korea in the future, let me know! I will let you know every nice place to eat out. TAKE CARE AND STAY HUNGRY.

  • bionicgrrrl at 2:51 pm on March 30, 2014

    @SUINIEE – I didn’t have a chance to use the Take 31 voucher I won, but it was a fun event anyway. Yes, I know about the delicious food in Korea! I miss it!

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