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Ban Som Tam
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Thursday, 18-Mar-2004 00:00
Ban Som Tam

Update 2 March 07: Place is closed. Good riddance. :)

Update 16 May 04: I no longer recommend this place. Reason is that fairly recently they now use a separate English menu and Thai menu, and... the prices on the English menu are 25-50% higher for every dish, even the drinking water!! This practise is not very common at all in Chiang Mai, I don't think I can think of any other restaurant in Chiang Mai that uses blatant double pricing. (I've seen some cases in tourist beach resorts) Many restaurants offer English menus of course, but I personally always also get the Thai version mostly because it tends to be more accurate and is sometimes more extensive than the English menu. Up to now I never found any discrepancy in pricing.. until today at Ban Som Tam. In my intro at the start of these food reviews I write there will be no "typical food-critic sour slagging off of places I didn't enjoy (unless they really deserve it)", well, this place found a way to really deserve it! :-O Even after pointing out that one of their dishes was just 35 baht in their Thai menu, they went and corrected the charge but still left the double charge on the drinking water.. Amounts involved are not so that they're going to make me any poorer, but charging double for drinking water is just sad, and let's leave it at that, and the hope that karma and the wrath of the Gods of Som Tam will catch up with them and may they be pounded in Satan's mortar for eternity! With extra chillies and pla ra please!! :P I leave the original review in place below:

Make no mistake, "Ban Som Tam", the place I review today, is by no means a candidate for any title of 'best som tam' in Chiang Mai. It's worth mentioning because of the more up-scale setting. Som tam is typically sold by vendors from some food stall or tiny little shop for 15-25 baht. Thai friends refer to Ban Som Tam as 'Som Tam High-So'... "Upper class som tam"! Indeed it's pricey for som tam, but given the nice setting and larger menu this may be justified. Som tam sells for 40 baht, and most other dishes are also in the 40-50 baht range. What I didn't like is the common trick of giving you your own bottle of water AND bucket of ice for which they charge 15 and 10 baht respectively. Won't break the bank of course, yet I like places more that just serve free water without fuss. I ordered a pretty baby-vanilla-style som tam: "Tam Thai" = "(Central) Thai Style", so sweet-sour and with just 3 chillies thrown into the mix. Can't judge a place on that alone of course, but I have the feeling that if you bring an Isarn person here he/she will not be impressed. :) One thing I can recommend is their version of Sai Ua, the Northern sausage. They do a nice variety with some herbs in it you normally don't find in this dish. (See picture)

The place is in a soi off Kamphaeng Din road. Coming from Thapae Road and walking on Kamphaeng Din past the AIS / Shinawatra building, it's the first soi on the right.

So the quest for the ultimate som tam continues.. Might as well go looking for the holy grail, as there seem to be as many preferred styles of som tam as there are people. Yet it would be a worthy cause: "The Quest for the Holy Khrok" (=mortar) so to say..

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