top of page
Sirapob Chaiprathum "Chef Q"

Portland Monthly 2022 


Som Tum Thai Kitchen Offers Papaya Salad Paradise Near PSU


The year-old restaurant specializes in papaya salads, laab, soups, sausages, and more.


By Katherine Chew Hamilton  November 7, 2022  Published in the December 2022 issue of Portland Monthly




















A spread of dishes, clockwise from top: pork cartilage soup, moo ping, duck larb, sticky rice, field crab papaya salad, and raw salmon salad

When customers sit down at Som Tum Thai Kitchen (1924 SW Broadway), some order without looking at the menu. “I’ll have the pad see ew,” they’ll say. How does Sirapob Chaiprathum, the owner known simply as Q, respond? “We don’t have pad see ew or curry. We have pad thai, pineapple fried rice, crab rangoon, and cashew chicken—but have you ever tried Isan food?”

Q has cooked food from northeastern Thailand’s Isan region since childhood, helping his mom sell food from a cart. When he landed in Missouri in 2005, he opened a restaurant serving the dishes you’d typically find at Thai restaurants in America—green, yellow, and red curries, pad thai, pad see ew. When he came to Portland in 2019, he dreamed of serving Isan cuisine, the food he grew up with, where pla ra, or salty fermented fish, is the seasoning of choice. Though Isan dishes can be found at various restaurants in Portland’s thriving Thai food scene, you’d be hard-pressed to find a restaurant as dedicated to focusing on Isan cuisine as Som Tum.

“You’re sure they’re going to eat it?” Q recalls his mother saying. With plates of the namesake papaya salad flying out of the kitchen, it’s safe to say they will. The sprawling menu offers eight kinds of som tum—including with salted duck egg, soy-marinated field crab, corn and apple, or crispy pork rind, and there’s even a vegan option. The field crab version is particularly good, topped with succulent, salty-sweet seafood. The salted duck egg version tastes like you plucked the rich center of a moon cake and added its umami richness to what’s typically a light, acidic dish.

Try Som Tum’s larb with succulent slices of grilled pork and crunchy, coarse toasted rice powder; it provides a slightly charred flavor and a whole new texture to larb, which is often ground or finely chopped. Though the duck larb—a specialty in Q’s home province, Udon Thani in northeastern Thailand—sounds promising, we wouldn’t have minded it even fattier and juicier. Grilled and fried meats make up their own section of the menu, and while the fried chicken won’t dethrone Hat Yai’s anytime soon, the moo ping skewers are particularly good, glazed in coconut milk for maximum succulence and richness.

On warmer days, seafood salads like raw shrimp with bitter melon and a spicy herbal dressing or raw salmon in sweet-sour dressing both make good options, though they don’t always hit the right balances of spice and tang. You can skip over the longan drink and the pandan lemongrass drink, both of which leaned too sweet and syrupy. But regardless of the weather, don’t leave without trying the homey soups, citrusy and tender pork cartilage to herbal chicken with squash and hairy basil. 

The menu’s slogan tells you, loud and clear, the best way to eat at Som Tum: “Not one single dish.” Everything is best accompanied by baskets of sticky rice, and selecting one item from each page’s category is a good strategy. Choose your spice level, from “baby” to Thai spicy—the latter is sure to make sweat drip from your ear canals—and bring friends and share.  


Eater Portland 2021 



This New Downtown Thai Restaurant Is a Deep-Dive Into the Cuisine of Isan

Som Tum Thai Kitchen goes beyond standards like its namesake dish, with soups, salads, and grilled meats hard to find in other Portland Thai restaurants


by Brooke Jackson-Glidden  Dec 9, 2021, 1:00pm PST

A platter of tum tod from Som Tum Thai Kitchen in downtown Portland. It comes with tum lao, vermicelli noodles, dried pork skin, Thai sausage, bamboo shoot, and boiled egg.

While he was growing up in Udon Thani, Sirapob Chaiprathum — who goes by Q — would wake up early with his mother to cook food for the markets. Years later, as Chaiprathum traveled around the United States, he noticed that most Thai restaurants in the United States had very few Isan dishes on menus — at best, he might spot a version of larb, or papaya salad, also known as som tum.

In Portland, there has been some Isan representation in the local culinary scene — perhaps more than the rest of the country — but our offerings are generally limited to a few salads and grilled meat dishes. Pok Pok sold a version of kai yang, and Paadee has always had a handful of larb and som tum options, as well as the fermented-pork-and-sticky-rice sausage sai krok Isan. But, even with Portland’s reputation for its regional Thai scene, Chaiprathum wasn’t quite satisfied; he wanted to do more, provide a well-rounded portrait of the food he grew up eating. So, after years of opening Thai restaurants and carts with his family around the country, he opened his passion project: an Isan restaurant named for one of the region’s most popular dishes.

Som Tum Thai Kitchen, located on the Portland State University campus, separates its menu into various categories of dishes often seen in Isan: grilled meats, spicy salads, and soups, as well as a full category dedicated to som tum. Some uninitiated diners may see som tum as a single dish — thinly shaved green papaya tossed in fish sauce, lime juice, and palm sugar, maybe with some dried shrimp. However, in Isan, there are a number of different varieties of som tum available: ones made with salty field crabs, ones tossed in fermented fish dressing, vegetarian papaya salad, papaya salad made with sweet corn. Chaiprathum is partial to the tum lao, made with the Laotian fermented fish sauce known as padaek. “It’s really strong flavor, but it’s really signature from the Som Tom Thai Kitchen,” he says.

The restaurant, similarly, offers a number of different varieties of larb — versions made with pork, duck, beef, and mushrooms — as well as commonly spotted dishes like the glass noodle salad yum woo sen. From there, however, the salad offerings include a number of dishes hard to find in other Portland Thai restaurants: tub waan, medium-rare pork livers tossed with shallots and herbs; soop nor mai, bamboo shoots tossed in a fermented fish dressing with dried peppers and roasted rice; yum moo yaw, a Vietnamese sausage salad with chile-lime dressing. Much of Isan’s culinary influence comes from its neighbors, namely Laos; as such, Som Tum also keeps a version of nam khao on the menu, also known as crispy rice salad.

The soup menu at Som Tum is perhaps the most well-stocked with Portland rarities, from tom sap kradook on made with pork cartilage and galangal to gaeng om gai, a soothing, herbal vegetable soup with roasted rice and pumpkin. A particularly fun menu item is the tom saep neua, a Thai soup filled with various cuts of beef, with a tangy, tom-yum-esque base.

For those new to the cuisine, though, Chaiprathum thinks the Pa Khao Noi, named for the temple, is a good starting point: It’s a tour through a number of the restaurant’s dishes, including larb moo, tom sap kradook on, fried pork ribs, and crispy rice salad. It’s one of a handful of sampler plates named for Thai temples — the Pa Khao Yai is a similar combination, with the addition of kor moo yang (grilled pork neck).

The 40-seat restaurant is now open for onsite dining and takeout, and soon Chaiprathum hopes to start serving drinks at the restaurant’s bar. Som Tum is located at 1924 SW Broadway.

南国のフルーツ、ロンガンを使った「Longan Drink」($4)などドリンク類も魅力。

Lighthouse Seattle and Portland 2023 






2021年、バブルティー店の2階にオープンしたSom Tum。外階段から店内に入ると、タイの小道をイメージした空間が広がります。オーナーシェフはタイ北東部イサーン地方出身のキューさん。

タイ料理の屋台を営む祖母の手伝いをしていたというキューさんが一から作るのは、どれも本格的なタイ料理です。ピリ辛な青パパイヤのサラダ「ソムタム」が店名になっている同店では、干し海老が香ばしい「Somtum Thai Kaikem」($16)などバラエティー豊かなソムタムをはじめ、スパイシーなソースに付けて食べるフライドチキン「Kai Tod」($14)などの小皿料理、数人でシェアできる「Pa Khao Noi」($38)や、タイ料理の定番「Pad Thai」($15~$17)、「Thai Curry」($15)などを提供しています。


▲ イサーン地方の伝統料理のソムタムの一つ「Tum Khao Pod」($14)は、青パパイヤの辛味にコーンの甘さがよく合います。
▲ レタスに包んで食べるクリスピーライスサラダなど、いろいろな料理を少しずつ味わえる「Pa Khao Noi」。
とろけるようなココナッツ風味のクレームブリュレ「Thai Coconut Cream Brûlée」($8)。
▲ タイ風の装飾がかわいい、爽やかな店内です。
bottom of page