Its time to bump up this Z-Lister and one of my favorite Thai in NYC. All these recent Thai posts can only mean one thing. Its getting freakin cold! And when its cold I like to eat spicy things. And we are also just about outta here to escape this cold front. But this time we are trying something new. We are leaving for something colder instead of warmer (no TCI). The idea is that by the time we come back, we can enjoy better weather. At least thats what we are convincing ourselves.
A few weeks after dining at Ugly Baby I found myself surrounded by them at the most unexpected of places. It was like a Thai mommy and me and Papaya salad event at Somtum Der on a weekday afternoon. And I suddenly felt this urge I never felt before… calling random babies ugly. No, its not me losing my marbles, but really it felt more of a Mitsvah. As I mentioned before, in Thailand apparently you call random babies ugly in order not to attract the ugly spirit. I even asked the waitress while chewing on their fried chicken (good as usual) and she confirmed. She then remarked how they always say the opposite in regards to many other things for this reason. But when I mentioned how awful their food was she gave me a look and said this doesnt apply to food.
Not much has changed at Somtum Der since they opened 4 years ago. Its usually fairly empty when I’m there but thats because I’m usually there between lunch and dinner (after a tour). The funky looking room that is not quite East Villagy is bright and colorful hence well received by ugly babies and bloggers. And there’s a side of me that loves menus with pictures, huge colorful pictures. Thats how I pick travel books.
When in Rome… I der you not to start with the Somtum (Papaya salad). You see what I did there? Any of the pictured salads will do, but I’m partial to the ones with the salted eggs. But every meal at Somtum usually starts and ends with Moo Rong Hai Der, the house special grilled marinated pork. Its playful and delicious. I love sucking on those coconut rice sticks and dipping everything in that fish sauce including car keys. The fried chicken as mentioned is Thigh meat which can be tough and stringy at times but always delicious.
But perhaps the best thing I’ve eaten at Somtum Der as of late was a mushroom special called Goi hed. Name perhaps was invented by someone who thought the Beech mushrooms reminded them of uncircumcised penises (get it?). It has all the elements of a nice and spicy Larb but without those chewy beeches losing that command. A very well balanced dish that was perhaps part of a November mushroom celebration, but it could still be around if you hurry. Love me a good mushroom dish
85 Avenue A (East Village)
Rating: Two Z’s (out of 4)
Stars range from Good to Exceptional. Simple as that
Recommended Dishes: Lemongrass Juice, Goi hed, Sa Poak Kai Tod Der, Moo Ping Kati Sod, Moo Rong Hai Der, Tum Thai Kai Kem