Thai food is more complex in ingredients and flavor than most Asian cuisines, which is why most people who try it for the first time immediately falls in love with it. With what looks like a simple dish, you’d be surprised to know how much ingredients were used to cook it.
Beyond complexities, Thai food usually always comes out as a win, that is, for people who love the spice. Isaan food, which can also be spelled in English in different ways such as Isan or Isarn, is Thai food of the Northeast.
One of the best restaurants in Bangkok serving Isaan food is Kumpoon. A classic Isaan food match is Som Tam with Kai Yang. Som Tam, or the Green Papaya Salad, is mainly made out of shredded green papaya mixed (and pounded) with all other fresh ingredients to make the flavor sweet, spicy, salty and sour altogether. Kai Yang is basically grilled chicken. At Kumpoon, they serve charcoal-grilled chicken with deep fried sticky rice balls.
But let’s try to stir out of the usual. I thought it would be interesting to introduce a local favorite Isaan food combination! While this may not please all palates (especially not all ‘farangs’) due to its strong flavors, those who learn to love it fall into a deep addiction. At Kumpoon, they offer Som Tum Pu Pla Ra and Kanom Jeen. Pla Ra means fermented fish sauce, so in this type of Som Tum, it’s dressed with the brown-ish, salty, fermented fish sauce.
All the spice, sweetness and saltiness of this green papaya salad come together boldly and perfectly. To balance it all out, Kanom Jeen is the perfect match. Kanom Jeen is ‘rice vermicelli noodles’ translated in English. At Kumpoon, you can order their plain Rice Noodle for just 33 THB.
They serve this bare, so we can pour our preferred food pairing, which is the Som Tam Pu Pla Ra. You can pour it on top of the noodles and mix it together before eating. This combination is a real an Isaan favorite, and there’s nowhere else more convenient to get it than at Kumpoon restaurant.
Kaye, a marketing team member of foodpanda Thailand from Manila, Philippines. With a serious love for travel and food, she contributes into writing some of her experiences during her stay in Bangkok.