New York, USA
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Somtum Der: Isan Thai in New York City

Isan Thai Food Nestled in NYC’s East Village

From the Northeastern part of Thailand, Isan Thai food is distinctly different from its sweeter central-cuisine cousin (think Pad Thai). For one, it’s SPICY and fiercly so. Isan Thai also serves up copious amounts of sticky rice, Som Tam (papaya salad), and Nam Tok (grilled meat salad). I’ve enjoyed all the trendy Southasian restaurants in New York City recently but Som Tum Der has been the standout in terms of food. Big flavors, filling portions, and phenomenal grilled meats are some of the things I consistently find in my visits.

Disclaimer: Som Tum Der received its first Michelin Star in 2016. As you can imagine, people are clamoring to try this place out now that it’s earned a coveted French star. Surprisingly, only one other Thai restaurant in the world has been awarded a Michelin Star (if you’re ever in Copenhagen, go visit Kiin Kiin Thai because I’ve heard raving reviews). So try to get a reservation if you’re going during peak hours–I never had trouble getting a table last summer but these days, the restaurant is always looking packed! Anyways, be sure to check out the delicious dishes below when you visit, and definitely get ready to drink too many glasses of water as you inhale authentic spicy Thai food.


Somtum Der, located in East Village/Alphabet City (Avenue A, between E 5th and 6th Street) looks like a hole in the wall from the outside.


The bright wood decor of the restaurant is both trendy and friendly.


A fun row of bar seats for those diners who want to face the Chef (and spice rack) as they dine!


They have a variety of iced teas available–some interesting ones include Longyan and Rosella tea.


This platter was a summer special when I visited–it contains the Isan region’s famous papaya salad, fried shrimp, fish cakes, salted vegetables, boiled eggs, and more. It’s a great way to sample a bunch of regional side dishes.


This crab meat Pad Thai IS OUT OF THIS WORLD! Somtum Der offers a selection of dishes that are part of their central Thai cuisine menu–so fear not for you Pad Thai lovers out there.


Gaeng Om Kai: a chicken soup with local herbs, this Isan style soup is super tasty for those that want a lighter dish


Fried chicken thighs–I swear, Somtum Der might not be a fried chicken joint, but this ranks as one of the best fried chicken dishes I’ve had in New York City. Big statement, I know.


Marinated pork with two sticks of grilled sticky rice–a definite must-have for first timers.


And lastly, meet the friendly staff of Somtum Der!

It’s finally summer in New York City again! If you have any new restaurant finds, as usual, please send them my way. I’ve actually been really obsessed with spicy and sour foods recently (explains why I love Somtum Der), I find that those flavors always go amazingly well with an ice cold beer in the summer.

with love,

Somtum Der
Address // 85 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009
Hours // 12pm-11pm
Tel // (212) 260-8570


  1. Hi Jade! It’s always a pleasure to meet another NYC blogger (and foodie!). That summer platter looks amazing, it might be time for us to pay them a visit! 🙂 Not sure if you’ve ever had Malaysian food, but you should check out Kopitiam on Canal St, we suspect you’ll love the nasi lemak!

    • Thanks for reading! Always a pleasure, and definitely do pay them a visit. I adore Malaysian food so I’ll have to check out Kopitiam–sounds delicious! 🙂

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