Somtum Der brings genuine Northeastern Thai flavors to New York

Somtum Der, Bangkok's most celebrated Isan (Northeastern Thai) restaurant has opened a branch in New York. It serves fiery papaya salads, bracing herbal broths and perfectly grilled beef with a level of authenticity hitherto unseen outside of Thailand.

When Somtum Der opened in Bangkok in 2012, it was hailed as a return to genuine flavors by the local press. Northeastern Thai food is very different from the kingdom's Central cuisine: it uses more chili, less sugar, more herbs and a unique fish sauce called plaara. But even in Bangkok, these distinctive elements are often toned down for local palates. Not at Somtum Der.

"Having been born in Khon Kaen, I guess I was just frustrated with how Isan food tastes in Bangkok," says owner Thanaruek Laoraowirodge. "At Somtum Der, we really cook the way they do in Udon Thani or Khon Kaen, and I often source produce straight from my hometown."

The restaurant's relaxed atmosphere and uncompromising flavors were soon recognized beyond Thailand, with coverage from major international media such as CNN, Travel & Leisure Magazine and Huffington Post, whose Robert Oliver declared the Kai Tod, "The best fried chicken I've ever had."

"Isan food is also a whole eating culture. It's all small plates, meant to be shared. Most of it can be eaten with your fingers or a spoon," says Thanaruek. "It's about trying lots of different things and keeping things casual."

The restaurant's use of wood and traditional Isan baskets further highlights the region's laid-back country roots, while the bar will allows guests to see their Somtum (green papaya salad) getting freshly pounded.

Of course, Somtum Der New York will serve marinated fried chicken Isan-style, and tender grilled pork neck. But adventurous diners can also try the Somtum Poo Plaara, a potent seasoning of fermented fish sauce and fresh water crab. Those not quite so bold, yet still hoping for a break from the classic Somtum Thai, will rejoice in such rare treats as the Somtum with coconut rice and fried mackerel.
Beyond the namesake papaya salads, Somtum Der serves up some 50 items, ranging from pork skewers marinated in coconut milk to a spicy minced catfish salad and Isan sausages.

Somtum Der is open daily 12.00 hrs - 23.30 hrs

For media inquiries and tastings, please contact:
Thanaruek Laoraowirodge (eh) at