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Jul 28, 2011 08:42 AM

Kuala Lumpur - Authentic Thai "Som Tum" in Jalan Alor

A Thai colleague from Chiengmai took me to this place because she loved the authentic taste of the Thai "som tum" (green papaya salad) here, a favorite of her family members who'd eat here whenever they holiday in KL. Her mum had first chosen this restaurant amongst a whole row of Thai eateries along Jalan Alor because she noticed the wooden pestle & mortar used to prepare "som tum".

The first dish we had was the "som tum poo" (green papaya salad with salted raw crab) - it was mind-blowingly spicy thru liberal sprinkling of explosive green "phrik kee noo" (birds' eye chillis). The heavy scent & salty tang of "nam pla" (fermented fish sauce) and dark-grey pieces of spider-like raw baby crabs lent the dish an authenticity which you probably won't find in high-end Thai restaurants in KL.

The next dish was one of my favorites: a deliciously spicy Gai Pad Kaprow - chicken with holy basil ("bai kaprow"), "phrik kee noo", generous cloves of garlic, "nam pla", and shredded lime leaves ("bai makroot"). Again, the version here was authentic to a "T" ... and explosively hot!

The "Gaeng Kaew Wan Gai" - Thai green curry with chicken here was perfectly-balanced: coconutty yet light, perfectly flavored, fresh chicken thigh-meat, and soft, melt-in-the-mouth aubergine pieces. The only missing ingredient was the pea eggplant ("ma khruea phuong"), but it didn't detract much from the pleasure of this perfectly cooked bowl of green curry.

The only disappointment I had here was, surprisingly, perhaps the most basic dish we ordered: "khao pad gai" - Thai-style fried rice with chicken. Main reason: the chicken was batter-fried (totally unheard of for Thai fried rice) and I rather suspected it's because they either used not-so-fresh chicken, or else they recycled chicken meat which had been marinated before for other recipes. The taste was also not very "Thai" - it lacked the sweetness & saltiness, and oniony, eggy flavors you'd find in fried rice in almost anywhere in Thailand.

Overall, a great Thai meal. Forget ambience here though - it's gritty, grimy, street-side dining. Cost: RM75 (US$19) for 2 persons (includes soft drinks).

Address details
Bangkok Special Thai Seafood
@ New World Food Court Centre
28 Jalan Alor
50200 Kuala Lumpur

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  1. Thanks for nailing down this Thai place. I once asked the Thai massage therapists at a spa where they go for authentic Thai food in KL and they pointed me to Jln Alor but didn't name a particular restaurant.
    Another basic Thai place is Jimmy & Nong's in Ampang but that's basically Thai BBQ and we haven't been for ages as we sometimes get belly trouble afterwards.

    1 Reply
    1. re: KLfoodie

      I was okay after this meal - in fact, hadn't had any tummy trouble AT ALL in KL, after moving here beginning of this year. The last time I had a really bad tummy-ache was in Bangkok actually - 4 years ago, after an oyster omelette meal in Yaowarat (Bangkok Chinatown). Never forgot that experience!

      I'll have to check out Jimmy & Nong's sometime :-)

    2. Klyeoh, do you know if they serve Thai sticky rice w/ mango here? I'm looking for somewhere in KL that has a nice version. I've only come across expensive and not very good in a mall.

      2 Replies
      1. re: flashpacker

        They did when I was there - I remembered because we contemplated ordering it, but decided to forgo it as we didn't want to overload on carbs.

        Anyway, be forewarned that "khao niew ma muang" (ข้าวเหนียวมะม่วง ) in Malaysia is not very good compared to the ones you'd get in Thailand. Two reasons:

        1. The uncooked glutinous rice grains in Thailand are of superior quality to the ones in Malaysia;

        2. Somehow, the way of cooking sticky rice for this type of dessert has been adjusted in Malaysia to suit local tastes: bland and more tasteless as the rice will be steamed with only coconut milk, whereas in Thailand, copious amounts of sugar and some salt would be added to flavor the coconut milk beforehand.

        IMO, the Thai version is way much tastier.

        1. re: klyeoh

          ahh thanks for the warning. that is good to know. Am definitely looking for the version packed with sugar and salt, lol.