Som Tam : Modern Thai Fusion at Orchard Central

Among the numerous malls along Orchard Road, one of my favorites is the 3 adjacent malls near the Somerset MRT Stations. These are -- Orchard Central, Orchard Gateway and 313 Somerset. All three malls exudes this very fun, casual and youthful vibe plus the fact that there are a lot of interesting food options and some of which have quickly became my favorites.

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Enter Som Tam, a 6-month old restaurant that specializes in modern Thai fusion cuisine. It's located at the 8th floor of Orchard Central which can easily be accessed be one of the elevators in the mall. I'm totally loving the white, clean, minimalistic look and feel of the restaurant. Price points are very reasonable as most of the menu items are below S$15 and the serving was good for sharing making it a good choice for couples or group dinner outs.

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Our meal started with a salad called Som Tam (S$6.80), the restaurant's namesake. This is their house specialty and it's hard not to see why. It's their take of the traditional Thai Papaya Salad placed in a glass jar and you have the option to add more toppings such as salted egg, dried shrimps or Thai chicken sausage. We had the salted egg and the dried shrimps. I'd say, this makes for a refreshing start to your meal. Be sure to shake the jar well in order to "tossed" the salad evenly. Flavor-wise, it sure has a very evident spicy kick which complements the sour notes that you'll get in every bite. As you know, spicy food can whet ones appetite and this one surely did a great job in doing so.

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Our next dish reminded me of this conversation that I had with some of my colleagues. For those who frequents Bangkok a lot, they have been telling me about this delicious fried chicken that's sold as a street food locally. It has been years since my last Bangkok trip and I think I have to go back to try it myself soon. Meanwhile, we had the Gai Tod (S$8.80) which is Som Tam's take of this favorite Bangkok street style fried chicken in garlic. The result? It was pretty good but I would have liked it to be much more flavorful. Somehow, the garlic was quite weak.

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What?! We're having burger in a Thai restaurant? That's a bit surprisingly so I was excited to see how they'll execute the western meets Thai fusion in this dish. The Chef added some homemade Thai shrimp paste onto the thick, juicy beef patty and topped this with cheese, sunny-side-up egg and Thai hot sauce dressing. Admittedly, this was just a-okay. Nothing very Thai about this to be very honest.

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Burger may not be their thing but the pasta is something I highly recommend for you all to try. The Pasta x Chicken x Green Curry=?? (S$14.80) not only has a funny name but it's really yummy too! I love the al dente spaghetti noodles as well as the generous amount of tender chicken strips which were all coated with the spicy and creamy Thai green curry. It was so good that I actually wanted to recreate this at home the very next day.

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Similar to their sister restaurant Gin Khao, they also have a signature seafood dish which is the Phad Kang Kaneng Phet (S$18.80). This one got fresh slipper lobsters stir-fried with Thai red curry and egg. I guess my expectations were raised so high upon learning that we're having seafood for dinner as you remembered how much I love Gin Khao's Kang Ob Woon Sen which was a delicious plate of freshly cooked crayfish and the yummiest qq vermicelli noodles. Som Tam's Phad Kang Kaneng Phet was very reasonable given how some restaurants would pull up the prices for seafood. One order gives you at least 6-7 pieces of slipper lobsters making it such a treat!

For some more meat, we had the Oozy Chicken (S$10.80) which everyone will love as it's fried chicken with salted egg cream sauce. Yes, salted egg alert here for all fans! The chicken was very flavorful and at this point, you'd wish you're eating this with a bowl of white rice. For us though, we were ready to raise the white flag to surrender after this great feast!

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However, no matter how full we are. We can never say no to dessert! The "After You" Toast (S$8.80)  is a popular dessert in Bangkok as it's named this dessert cafe named After You. It's a delicious buttery honey toast topped with whipped cream and your choice of ice cream. We went for the cantaloupe (melon) flavored one. I love the airy buttery toast and while I had to carefully scrape off all the whipped cream, the ice cream was pretty refreshing and it surprisingly went well with the toast. Yum!

I have to admit that I've always been hesitant about fusion cuisines as I've always been a fan of traditional flavors and the ones that have been tried and tested for centuries. However, when done right, fusion dishes can really be a treat for your taste buds. I'm happy to share that Som Tam is definitely worth a try and it's one place that I wouldn't mind going back to more often from now on.

*Photos by Paul Ang

Check out Som Tam at 181 Orchard Road, 08-13 Orchard Central, Singapore 238896. Call them at 6238-6872.

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