Recently Opened Restaurants
by Julie Besonen, 02/05/2014
Courtesy, Somtum Der
85 Ave. A, 212-260-8570, East Village, Manhattan
Fresh, fragrant, herbal and spicy are the key words at Somtum Der, a new Isan Thai restaurant in the East Village spun off from the original location in Bangkok. The northeastern region near Laos uses less sugar and more fish sauce in its dishes; flavors are not toned down for American tastes. If you're ever going to try it, this is the place. The staff is accommodating and attuned to how much heat Western palates can take. In the papaya salad with field crabs you can suck on the dark shells for extra shards of meat, but when it comes to the crunchy catfish larb do not mistake the dark, fiery chilies for anything innocuous. For something milder try the chicken soup, deeply flavored since it's cooked with the bones. The well-crafted space is artful and appealing, fun for dates and big groups who are into sharing an adventure.