The Phat Boy team brings the tastes of Thailand to Brisbane Quarter with Som Tum Bar
Any frequent devourer of Thai food knows that som tum (that is green papaya salad) is a core staple of the cuisine. While many of us enjoy the refreshing (and slightly spicy) dish as an accompaniment to a larger feast, in Thailand som tum is widely beloved as a street food go-to, with many dedicated outlets dispensing an array of variations. The crew behind Phat Boy, Phat Elephant and Chai Thai is looking to increase the profile of the specialty in Brisbane, opening the city’s first dedicated som tum bar in Brisbane Quarter last week. This newcomer isn’t your average salad bar. Read on to find out why …
Barring her breezy Paddington cafe Chapter IV, Alyssa Phadungkiat’s hospitality portfolio is largely dedicated to exploring the rich and diverse flavours of Thai cuisine. From Phat Boy’s kung tung seafood feast to Phat Elephant’s signature pineapple fried rice, Alyssa and her culinary team revel in making the country’s specialties more accessible for local eaters. Her newest project is taking inspiration directly from Thailand’s street-food scene, focusing primarily on som tum – a dish that’s also immensely popular in Southeast Asian countries such as Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Where outlets specialising in som tum are common in Thailand, such venues are rare in Australia and just about unheard of in Brisbane. That all changed last week when Alyssa opened Som Tum Bar next to Phat Boy at Brisbane Quarter, a convenient quick-casual outlet serving ten kinds of som tum as well as a clutch of contemporary takes on the traditional salad. Som Tum Bar sits next to Phat Boy’s entrance, beckoning customers forth with a facade reminiscent of a market stall. Dominating the service counter is the som tum prep space, which features an assortment of clay mortar and pestles used to mash together the required ingredients – commonly a combination of papaya, peanuts, dried shrimp, chilli and lime. A couple of tables are available (on a strict first come, first serve basis) for those inclined to dine in, though Som Tum Bar is designed more for the grab-and-go takeaway crowd.
Som Tum Bar’s menu draws inspiration from Thailand’s diverse culinary landscape, with its many variations on the dish influenced by regional tastes. Guests can opt for a classic som tum or jazz it up with ingredients such as salted baby crab, blue swimmer crab, salted anchovy, pork roll, grilled pork jowl, salted egg and grilled marinated barbecue chicken – all served with sticky rice. In addition to the papaya-based meals, Som Tum Bar also serves duck laab salad, grilled catfish, E-saan sour pork sausage and tom zaab spicy pork-bone soup. If you’re looking to take the edge of som tum’s spicy kick, we suggest sipping on something refreshing like Thai iced teas, fresh coconut juice (sipped straight from the source), a lychee-and-mint soda, or watermelon frappe.
Som Tum Bar is open to the public from Monday to Friday. For operating hours and other important details, head to the Stumble Guide.
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