Giant som tum? You got it. It's called som tum taad, a massive tray (taad) that's piled up high with som tum green papaya salad and all the fixings. At E-San Saap in the heart of Sydney's Thaitown, that means noodles, pickles, vegetables, curls of pork crackling and fried chicken. Oh yeah. Now you know why this trend has been sweeping across Bangkok.
Pork crackling on the som tum taad $19.80
This all-in-one crunch fest is served on old-fashioned colourful metal plates, the kind that Thai families would traditionally gather around to share their communal meal. And that's half the fun. It's hard not to feel the festive cheer when that spaceship of a platter lands in the middle of your table. Instant party time!
Thai fried chicken wings
There are fifteen different variations of som tum at E-San Saap, and you can choose any of them to be the centrepiece of your tray. We go with the som tum pu pla-ra, dark and deliciously fishy with the inclusion of salty crab and anchovies pounded with the green papaya, carrot and green beans.
The Thai fried chicken wings threaten to take some of the glory from the main event. We squabble over these precious babies, covered in a knobbly crust of earthshatteringly crunchy golden batter. The curls of pork crackling are pretty darn tasty too.
E-San spicy herb soup and vegetables
with choice of pork or beef set ($19.80) or seafood ($29.80)
The som tum taad would probably feed two for dinner but we group of five has our eyes set on a bigger feast. We join everyone else at this student-friendly haunt with the soup and meat combo, a campfire stove job that is so popular, we spy it on every second table.
Mixed pork and liver set $19.80 with spicy herb soup and vegetables
It's a hands-on DIY affair. Choose between beef, pork or seafood and then cook them as you please, hot pot-style.
Cooking the pork and liver in the spicy herb soup
The cooking stock has all the trademarks of a classic Thai soup - hot and sour with a lemongrass kick. It's the perfect kind of nourishment you'll appreciate any time of day, and is light enough that you can still enjoy it during warmer weather. Staff will bring more soup too, if you run out.
Barbecue pork neck $9.80
If you need more protein, get into the barbecue pork neck, tender pieces of marinated pork cooked on the grill until caramelised.
Deep fried morning glory salad $9.80
And fulfil your vegetable quota with deep fried morning glory salad. Hey, it still counts toward your five-a-day, right? Vegetables dipped in batter and deep fried, drenched with a spicy dressing and scattered with fried shallots. Win-win.
Som tum taad $24.90
But wait. Lookie here. They're doing som tum taad at Chat Thai too. It's a little pricier - an extra five bucks - but it does mean you won't have to move far after dinner for dessert.
Crunch comes in the form of prawn crackers, the extra thick kind that won't disintegrate into a soggy mess at the faint whiff of moisture.
Prawn crackers, luncheon meat, boiled eggs, bean sprouts, vegetables and vermicelli noodles with som tum
There ain't no fried chicken on this tray but there is an abundance of chopped luncheon meat, not dissimilar to the Vietnamese chả lụa you find in bánh mì thịt pork rolls.
There are boiled eggs too, cooked so the yolks still have a touch of gooey stickiness.
Oyster omelette $20
We round things out with moo ping pork skewers and a fluffy behemoth that is the Thai oyster omelette. It's light, fluffy and crisp all at once, swollen with a treasure hunt of plump oysters inside.
Par tuhng go donuts with pandan custard $6.90
We've noticed that the par tuhng go deep fried donut assembly line seems to be set-up earlier at Chat Thai these days too. Lately they seem to have started cranking out these babies from babies from 8.30pm even though the supper menu doesn't officially kick off until 9.30pm.
Dive in as soon as these crullers hit the table, dunking them into the saucer of warm pandan custard on the side. We always run out of the custard, but if you ask nicely, you may be rewarded with a refill.
Tao tung sweet bean soup $6
Hot steamy nights call for tao tung sweet bean soup. It's the kind of stuff your parents tried to feed you as a kid to no avail. It's scary when the cocktail of kidney beans, lotus seeds, longans and red dates in a sweet soup suddenly makes sense. A hunk of shaved iced keeps everything cool and refreshing.
Sticky rice with durian $8
Sticky rice with mango is good but sticky rice with durian is even better. They pulverise some of the durian so it becomes a rich sauce that soaks into the sticky rice grains. It's rich and powerful - they don't call durian the king of fruits for nothing.
Khanom tom coconut dumplings $5
There ain't no shortage of desserts to choose from at Chat Thai, but khanom tom are a sweet treat if they have them. These glutinous rice dumplings covered in fresh coconut shreds slip down the throat with ease.
A perfect end to a som tum taad party. What are you waiting for?
20 Campbell Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9211 1808
Open 7 days 10am-2am
378 Pitt Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 0267 9604
Monday to Friday 10am-11pm
Saturday and Sunday 11am-11pm
Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Thai - Chat Thai, Haymarket (Nov 2010)
Thai - Do Dee Paidang, Haymarket
Thai - Rim Tanon, Haymarket
Thai - Tawandang German-Thai Restaurant, Sydney
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12/10/2014 01:18:00 am