We are exploring the Thai food options around Silom these days. A week ago or so, we decided to go to Sala Daeng Soi 1 to Som Tam Der.
It was not the first time that I went there, as it is very close to my office. The first time I went with a Thai friend, because we heard a lot of people talk about it and say that it was really great for Som Tam (green papaya salad) that is one of our favorite food. We were disappointed by the quality of the food and the amount offered, but then we are Som Tam snobs and always go to the same place where they make it just the way we like it.
The second time, I went to Som Tam Der was for a company party. We were a lot of people and although we decided to share the food, the orders came flying in from left and right instead of just one person coordinating our wishes. The waiter wrote everything down and did not – as is usually the case – repeat the completed order back to us.
When we sat there chatting, the food arrived and it was plate after plate after plate. It seemed that we were about to start a never-ending orgy. It was great to sample all the Isaan (northeastern province). However, it seemed that we had ordered all the food they had stocked in the restaurant. And yet more kept coming…
As people were getting fuller and fuller and food kept coming, my boss looked over at me and asked what was going on. Finally we asked the waiter to hold the rest of the order – we couldn’t possibly eat more. While we took all the leftovers back to the office and food was delicious, we were left with the feeling that the service was strange and they took advantage of us for hiking up the bill by not coordinating the order.
So, the third time, I went with my two good friends, I tried to keep an open mind. You never know, right? It might have just been a series of weird circumstances that let to the overbearing lunch buffet and the below average tasty Som Tam the first time.
The restaurant was quite empty when we arrived. We went to sit in the upstairs seating area because we could have a better view of things and were more by ourselves. Well, there were some Westerners who sat at the table next to us, but they did not seem to talk much to each other.
We, on the other hand, were chatting away and the waiter had to wait for us to finally make a decision on the food. We ordered the food together and probably a dish or two too few, but we figured that we could always order more if we were still hungry.
We were informed that they did not have the grilled chicken, so we had to get some fried. They also did not have the regular white rice, but only sticky rice or coconut oil flavored rice. In addition they did not have the pork neck (I was not too unhappy about that), but just other fried pork.
The first dish that arrived was the Som Tam Thai. It looked like a children’s portion. It was arranged on a small plastic plate and contained about half the amount of the Som Tam I usually get in another restaurant. We figured that we might have to order more…
The other dishes weren’t any bigger. The whole meal would have maybe be enough for one person, but definitely not three fitness enthusiasts who had just come from the gym. In addition we were disappointed by the fact that we could not order the healthier options of “grilled” rather than fried and we could not get regular rice.
Finally, we attempted to order some ice cream to round off the meager meal, but the waiter answered again “no have”.
While the restaurant is in a convenient location and it might be a good way for foreigners to taste northeastern Thai food, I think, we have been living here too long and prefer the cheaper, bigger portions and the options to actually order the items of the menu that we like. And after this third experience, I guess, I am not likely to go back to Som Tam Der soon.