Som Chai: Thai cuisine, elegance & style

Som Chai is a stylish and authentic Southeast Asian restaurant and another notch in the belt for the Sarong Group and Will Meyrick, this time concentrating solely on delicious Thai cuisine and an abundance of Thai style. Will Meyrick did a trip of almost two months with his Thai sous chef Palm Amatawet and new Som Chai chef, Wayan Suprapta. They travelled throughout Thailand before developing the menu and came back with a list of dishes influenced by the era of the first Kings of Siam.
We arrive early, around 7pm and walk through the heavy wooden front doors. We are greeted at reception and taken straight through to the main dining area.
This area is enormous. Large, Thai-style metal lanterns hang from the ceiling, while rattan patterned wooden panels divide the restaurant’s dining sections.

Dining at Som Chai starts with great service. The attentive staff are on standby, show great poise and style, and are knowledgeable of each dish and helpful with selection. A nice touch was one of the waiters first coming around with the house wines on a trolley for us to taste while we were checking the extensive menu. This makes the selecting of wine a breeze.
Since we were on a night out, we first ordered signature cocktails Barrel Aged Manhatten (Rp 135k) and Drunken Monk (Rp 120k) for the lady.
While sipping on those delightful, infused kickstarters we ordered a number of entrees. The extensive menu consists of entrees, salads, mains, curries, stir-fries and noodle and rice dishes – just what you would imagine on any fine Thai menu and the majority perfect for sharing.

The entrees start with the signature Will Meyrick betel leaf starter, this one topped with coffee wood smoked mackerel and Jeow Bong relish (Rp 45k). Crispy shell crab som tam (Rp 120k), uses green apple instead of green papaya making a new sensation of the well-known Thai salad, and we also tried two specially prepared entrees by the chef, Stir Fried Pumpkin (Rp 70k) and a Pork Rib Soup (Rp 120k). The flavours of the fresh local produce and Thai spices burst from the plate and onto the palate. The waiters also asked, as we ordered, if we liked our food spicy or not, which is something to keep in mind as some of those dishes are rather spicy.

For mains we moved straight to the crispy barramundi with pineapple holy basil lime leaf and three flavors sauce (Rp 195k). Why wouldn’t you? The whole grilled fish had a sweet but tangy sauce and was perfectly tender and juicy. The other main was a grilled “Aeb pla” of barramundi marinated in chili turmeric kaffir lime leaf wrapped in banana leaf served with nam pla prik (a hot Thai sauce) and sticky rice (Rp 170k). “Aeb pla” means wrapped in banana leaf in Thai. We finished off with a delicious selection of the Som Chai favourite desserts, which is aptly called the Chef’s Dessert Selection (Rp150k).

We adjourned to the Som Chai Lounge which by this time had turned into what appeared to be a dark, smoky den of iniquity that they say harks back to the old hedonistic days of Bangkok’s Chinatown. It reminds me a bit of a gentleman’s club with young burlesque-dressed ladies swinging around here and there in plush surrounds. Not to be taken too seriously, of course, it all adds to the show.

It’s a fun and sensual experience at Som Chai and another perfect addition to Seminyak’s dining scene. The food is as awesome as you would always expect from Meyrick and the Sarong Group and for the service, style and excellence in cuisine, it is excellent value for money. If you like the sound of great Thai food, you can’t miss it! [David Trauts]

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