Som tam on Soi Ari

Some of the best papaya salad around

What we say: 4 stars

Some may say that pad Thai takes the international title of Thailand’s premiere dish, but if you’re surveying at the local level many would likely insist that som tam should take the prize. A great version of Som tam, otherwise known as papaya salad and best eaten with a side of sticky rice, is served at a tucked away food stall in Ari.

Euphoria as I pose with culinary greatness.

This particular food stall I happen to pass by at least twice a day. In the mornings the entire family working there are peeling vegetables, prepping chicken and watching variety shows on a small TV, and when I pass in the evenings they’re still hard at work.

By dinner time all the tables around their stall are jam-packed with locals chowing down on fried chicken, soups, salted fish and of course som tam. It didn’t take more than a few days before I stopped for dinner to see what all the hoopla was about.

A blurry shot (sorry!) but hopefully you get the gist.

While I’ve sampled a few things from their stall, the som tam is far and away the stand-out. Made by combining slivers of carrot and green papaya, chillies, tomatoes, green beans, peanuts, a lot of sugar and an assortment of sauces and other goodies in a mortar and pounding it with a pestle, som tam often runs the risk of being too sweet, too salty or too sour. Here, they get the balance just right.

The man behind the magic is an absolute champion and seems to be making som tam day and night at lightening speed. If you stick around for a little while you will undoubtedly see him get some chilli in his eye and then with utter calm go rinse his eyeball out with a hose — a zen-like control almost as amazing as the som tam.

The stall is a bit tucked away but well worth the chase. A plate of som tam and a side of sticky rice goes for 40 baht.

My own little pot of gold.

Their red awning says only grilled chicken in Thai, but other than that, the stall has no other marked name. Located on a small alley between Ari Soi 1 and Ari Soi 2. Take the BTS to Ari and get out at exit 3. From there walk to Soi Ari (otherwise known as Phahonyothin Soi 7). Walk to Soi Ari 2 and make a left. The food stall is on the corner of the first alley on your left hand side. The food stall has red and white signs with the Coca Cola logo.

Contact details
Soi Ari, Bangkok
T: (087) 685 2213
Open: Mon-Sat 11:00-21:00, or whenever they run out of ingredients
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