17 Jan2010

Som’s Noodle House

by Marketman

Mediocre Food. Colorful curbside tables and crowd. Troublesome health/hygiene conditions. Don’t understand why it seems to have a legion of fans. But then again, I never thought quality, value and popularity were always in sync when it comes to Manila’s many restaurants. This is one carinderia/hawker stand/restaurant we are not likely to eat at again anytime soon.

Mrs. MM and I decided to have Sunday lunch out today, and wanted to try a restaurant we had never eaten in before. Some friends had mentioned Som’s Noodle House, so we decided to check out their Makati branch. Located on a side street right near the Power Plant Mall at Rockwell, this carinderia/hawker style place has been open for 5 years and is apparently wildly popular and attracts a large crowd of office workers, neighbors, village matrons, young professionals, Ateneo students at both lunch and dinner. In other words, it’s where real Louis Vuitton would almost certainly brush shoulders with the 168 versions that cost 1/50th the amount. This was a good sign for us, as it wasn’t about the crowd, so we figured it must be about the food.

You order at a streetside counter which is three feet in front of the kitchen which was probably carved out of the home’s old garage. Tarpualins and laminated menus list out the dishes on offer, and once you order and pay, you grab a table and wait for your food. The plastic tables and chairs are set up right on the street and curb directly in front of the restaurant. We wondered how neighbors could put up with the traffic, noise, hubbub and inconvenience caused by such a set-up given that the street is presumably for public use and it is seemingly permanently hi-jacked for a private money making enterprise. But this still had no bearing at all on the food that was to emerge from the kitchen, so we just went with the flow. I have eaten at quite a few hawker/streetside/value priced places around Southeast Asia so the ambience itself wasn’t a deal breaker. I also lived temporarily in Bangkok for several months so I do have a thing for Thai food.

Though we were only 2, we ordered enough for 3 or even 4 people and at PHP930++ or so adjusted for additional drinks, it came out to roughly PHP250-300 per person equivalent. Not cheap, but certainly not expensive. After a 20-25 minute wait (and we got there early, and before the crowds arrived), we got our food. They had no red curry sauce available, so we got green duck curry instead. It had the consistency of sludge, with curdled coconut milk, and devoid of much curry flavor at all. It had a very generous amount of duck meat, some grapes and other vegetables, but it had little if any hint of kaffir lime leaves, basil, chillies, etc. At best, I would say it was muddled, drowned, indistinguishable. Duck is best in red curry, in my opinion, and perhaps we should have tried this dish with chicken instead, but if the curry concoction was anything like this, it wouldn’t have passed muster. Even given the comparatively reasonable Makati prices, this wouldn’t have rated more than a 6.0 out of 10.0, and that’s being kind.

Next up was the shredded green papaya salad. The order taker had asked me if I wanted it spicy or mild and I said medium spicy. Gosh, if this was medium spicy, I should have ordered super, super, super spicy instead. The salad looked good, it just didn’t have the authentic elements of a real Som Tam. I don’t cook Thai food all that often, but I did do a Som Tam last year or so and it was far better than this sweet pallid version. In this case, the overriding flavor wasn’t coriander, chilli or shrimp paste, it was SUGAR. Imagine shredded papaya doused in sugar water with a few other Som Tam ingredients thrown in. It was a nice sweet papaya salad, just not a great Som Tam, by any measure. Another 6.0 out of 10.0, considering it’s PHP70 price.

Next up was a plate of fried calamari. Not sure what made this Thai other than a sweet chili sauce it was served with, but it was a pretty good plate of fried calamari. If you could get over the huge pieces, it was relatively tender and nicely battered and fried. At 7.0/10.0 for a PHP300 price tag, Marketman and Mrs. MM are being generous. And we acknowledge there was very little Thai about this dish.

A large serving dish of Pad Thai or noodles arrived next. Horrific. Rather sweet, bizarrely orange tinted noodles with some blobs of egg and served with chopped peanuts. If it’s true this place is owned by a Thai chef, I am surprised this dish emerges from the kitchen as is. My only theory is that this isn’t about being Thai or authentic, this is about delivering a very sweetified version of Thai dishes for an audience that LIKES/PREFERS it sweet. Maybe we missed out on something, but we should have told the order taker we could handle quite a bit of chili on all of the dishes if appropriate. Pad Thai rated a 4.0/10.0.

Last to arrive was the Tom Yum or prawn sour/spicy soup. I will say that at least this had some sharp flavor notes, real lemongrass, tomatoes, etc. but again it had NO SPICE at all. In fact, it was almost sweetish sour if you can fathom that. A real disappointment, at say 5.5/10.0 in our view. Individual servings of steamed rice were surprisingly small, it’s a good thing I got extra right at the start. The more we pondered the meal in front of us, the more it became plainly obvious we were not thrilled about it in the least. We expected Thai food, and what we got was almost certainly better described as Thai food for a sweet Pinoy palate. I have no idea how this place could be so incredibly popular, and yes, I am prepared to be in the minority here as it does seem that Som’s has a large loyal following of diners. I might wager that if the bulk of them ever had a chance to dine at a streetside hawker stall in Thailand, they would have steam coming out of their ears… But it isn’t just the spice, it is the use and balance of such wonderful distinct flavor notes as provided by fish sauce, coriander, lemongrass, lime, lime leaves, shrimp pastes, etc that make Thai cuisine what it is. Overall, despite it’s humble location and comparatively low prices, I think a 5.50/10.0 is our personal rating for Som’s Noodle House. And yes, this is based on only one visit and five dishes, as we have no desire to go back and give it another try… So take this as personal opinion only, not a comprehensive review.

Finally, a note on hygiene. I realize small carinderias and neighborhood eateries are cut a lot of slack from what are existing health, safety and hygiene regulations, but I am still surprised that with the brisk business Som’s is doing (possibly more than some mall based restaurants), that it doesn’t upgrade their faciilties just a tad to meet some basic condiitions. For example, it seems their kitchens or food prep areas in the converted garage aren’t even screened, so the multitude of flies buzzing all over the place have an easy way in. Also since they now have several branches all around Manila, and the branch we ate at is in its FIFTH year of operation, I think it’s fair to expect that they meet the same basic hygiene conditions that are expected of other restaurant establishments. As we were leaving, a rustle in the nearby bushes was followed by a HUGE scurrying rat in broad daylight. I know there are rats all over Manila, including in some malls and homes, and this one may have nothing to do with Som’s, but this wasn’t exactly the right visual to leave with. :(

 

COMMENTS:

  1. tonki ramos says:

    I couldnt have said better, you’re right on. Som’s sucks!

    Jan 17, 2010 | 4:47 pm

     
  2. Alana says:

    I agree completely. It’s overrated. Better head to Jatujak (in Megamall, SM The Block or MOA) if you want cheap Thai food. :)

    Jan 17, 2010 | 5:32 pm

     
  3. Gerry says:

    Why do most of the Tom Yum I’ve eaten here in Manila have a slightly sweetish flavor? Do they add sugar to the broth or does the sweetness come from the tomato?

    Jan 17, 2010 | 5:32 pm

     
  4. Connie C says:

    For lack of anything to say, am registering to say I visited your blog today. But being a “corrector” myself, can’t help notice ” hygiene ” mispelled as “hygeine” several times. BUt that is minor, ‘coz I love the spontaneity of your language. Good’ay,MM.

    Jan 17, 2010 | 5:57 pm

     
  5. Marketman says:

    Connie, thanks, will update post. My spelling skills are pretty appalling.

    Jan 17, 2010 | 6:08 pm

     
  6. Ging says:

    A friend lives at the corner of Algier St (where Som’s is). He recommended the place to us but somehow some inner instinct told me not to. Good thing.

    Jan 17, 2010 | 6:33 pm

     
  7. Alex says:

    It is for this reason I question the credibility of the book “Manila’s Best Kept Restaurant Secrets”. Som’s was one of those featured in this book. Like, do the authors know what they are talking about? Why? First of all it has an extremely misleading title. There is nothing secret in the book and not a single recipe. I remember mentioning some time ago that this place did not deserve the hype it got from the public. This may be for those who have never tasted real Thai food at all. A relative of the owner already mentioned that the hygiene of the kitchen left much to be desired.

    There are 2 Thai food stalls in the Salcedo Saturday market that are owned by real Thais. One is vegetarian and the other is Chariya’s, that is not. Chariya has a food outlet in 168 for a few years now. They served much better Thai food than Som’s. She is really Thai. She opened an outlet further down Reposo (N. Garcia). Her phad Thai is freshly cooked as you order. Believe me, it is much butter than Som’s. Truly, popularity definitely does not equate to quality. What used to be Sukothai, now in Pasong Tamo is much better than this whole in the wall.

    What is getting a lot of hype these days is this place 6404 Camia St. near Rockwell. It has been written up by fellow bloggers. The menus are in Chinese and apparently owned by “mga bagong salta”. If you get to try it, please give us the review.

    Jan 17, 2010 | 8:14 pm

     
  8. pbp says:

    You are heaven sent. After an exhaustive research on the internet for some authentic Thai food, Som’s is in our itinerary during our visit to the Phils. end of January. Having been based in Thailand for 7 years now, our kids love their Thai food. But after your review, I guess we will be better off if I just do the cooking instead. You have spared us possible aggravation and disappointment. Thanks MM!

    Jan 17, 2010 | 8:33 pm

     
  9. BPS says:

    Been to SOMs once or twice, and I kinda tolerated their food, Hehehe. I haven’t been to an authentic Thai Resto myself, maybe that’s why. I haven’t checked out their curry, will try and note the sludge consistency. I will be more observant from now on.

    Jan 17, 2010 | 9:24 pm

     
  10. hungrycurious says:

    MM, the Thai chef suffered a stroke a few years ago and it is now run by his Ilongga wife and her relatives. I’m saddened by how Som’s have deteriorated. I was glad that I had the chance to experience Som’s during its early days. It was no different from the streetside eateries in Khao San. Back then Som’s only had limited offerings of chicken/beef/pork noodle soup, pork/chicken green/red curry, and phad thai. Yun lang ang nakasulat sa chalkboard sa harap ng bahay. And the thai tea of course. (OMG, naalala ko pa ang orig menu LOL.) If I wanted to have Tom Yam, I had to inquire with Pat (yung Thai chef) if there were ingredients so he could make it. And yes, they were all spicy! And oh, all the food was below 50 bucks lang. I think over the years naging sweet na ang food para bumagay with the majority of the clientele who wanted mild spicy. And Pat didn’t do the cooking anymore. Hmmmm if i’m not mistaken, Chariya (mentioned by Alex) is Pat’s sister.
    It’s really sad now that I remember during my last visit at Som’s two years ago, there was a commotion. The lady who owns the dance studio nearby couldn’t park her car since her usual parking slot in front of the studio was taken by a Som’s customer who didn’t want vacate. There was a screaming match wherein deadma ang Som’s management. I guess MM you just drove the last nail in the coffin, so to speak. No more Som’s for me.

    Jan 17, 2010 | 9:29 pm

     
  11. atbnorge says:

    Can’t relate, hehehe, I only read the review (first time kong makabasa ng review ni MM).
    Patay ang Pad Thai ni Som Yam! Kinatay ni Marketman.

    Jan 17, 2010 | 10:35 pm

     
  12. Tricia says:

    my husband did not like Som’s din before :(

    And I agree, hygiene is an issue here.

    Jan 17, 2010 | 11:12 pm

     
  13. Alexander Ramos says:

    Where can we find the best affordable Thai restaurant or carinderia in the Philippines?

    Jan 17, 2010 | 11:22 pm

     
  14. LoLa says:

    finally! a credible review! I haven’t been to soms myself and my thai beau had discouraged my from trying it.

    Jan 17, 2010 | 11:38 pm

     
  15. Mila says:

    I went to Som’s when it opened (five years ago? eegads, I feel old! lol), and though the simple rice toppings were adequate, the pad thai was horrible (and it sounds from your description that it’s still the same weird orange mess). The curries were good and spicy then, but I was very disappointed when I tried the Mandaluyong branch’s red curry about two years ago, and that was the last time I had anything at a Som’s.
    It’s really unfortunate that we don’t have enough good Thai diners around Manila. And speaking of spicy food, a lack of Sichuan/Hunanese food, so the new place (Camia) several food bloggers have written about could make a killing among those who need a serious sinus cleaner.

    Jan 17, 2010 | 11:53 pm

     
  16. RV says:

    I am a big fan of Thai Cuisine, I prefer Chariya’s in Reposo and 168 than Som’s. Som’s Pad Thai really sucks, It looks like spaghetti with KETCHUP!hahaha :D

    Jan 18, 2010 | 1:14 am

     
  17. thelma says:

    it would be a complete turn off if the surrounding is unpleasant….

    Jan 18, 2010 | 2:34 am

     
  18. mymudcake says:

    I find that D’Best resto is someone’s home. I have met very nice moms with different origins? at the gym and in our travels all over where we are…Iranian, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, and others. I also have neighbours of different ethnic origins. At least once a week, we get to eat at someone’s home and taste home cooked food of their background. That home cooked food we have tasted surpasses some of the restaurants we have tried. The bonus….we each get a copy of the recipe and no such thing as trade secrets!

    We call this our dinner club…we started small and now it has grown. But then people come and go or relocate and we meet new people because others bring their friends and …..

    Jan 18, 2010 | 3:56 am

     
  19. moni says:

    For all the hype about how good Som’s is, the food was always a disappointment. Even Chariya’s. I make frequent trips to Thailand and the food in Som’s and Chariya’s do not even compare to the street food in Bangkok. Well, Sala Thai at the side of the Philippine Women’s University is a bit more authentic.

    Jan 18, 2010 | 4:11 am

     
  20. zena says:

    Never eaten at the Makati branch, but have at their Mandaluyong branch where it is no longer hawker style, it has it’s own four walls, etc. Food was good, not great, and certainly not cheap.

    Jan 18, 2010 | 6:26 am

     
  21. Bubut says:

    we had dinner at Soms before the typhoon Ondoy where it was a rainy day. The rains pours hard that the street is starting to be flooded. Those umbrellas were not enough as we are eating while bathing in the rain. By the time we finish our dinner our feet was soaking wet and we need to run at their under constructed resto extention while we waited for a cab. Food is terrible and will never go back to that place.

    Even the chinese resto at 6404 camia street, they just put lots of chillies to make it authentic, but we requested for no spice and it doesnt taste good.

    Jan 18, 2010 | 8:42 am

     
  22. Celina says:

    Hungrycurious, Chariya is not the brother of the the owner of Soms. It was never good from the time it opened. From the sound of it, it has deteriorated even further. Jatujack is not too bad, not the best but better than Soms. People’s Palace used to serve decent Thai food. They have gotten too expensive and inconsistent. Last time we ate there, the duck curry cost 450+ and had 2 pieces of duck. Good heavens, it could not even feed the 3 of us a cube of duck each!!!

    Those were the days of Flavors and Spices. The Thai wife really made great food. So sad that she died of cancer.

    Jan 18, 2010 | 9:10 am

     
  23. bon says:

    I also couldn’t understand the hype. I ate there twice. I didn’t enjoy the first time but gave it another try since it’s so popular. I told myself, perhaps it was the hot noon sun which made me irritable thus making me less appreciative of the food. The second time I tried, I still didn’t like the food. I’ll never go there again.

    Jan 18, 2010 | 9:30 am

     
  24. leigh says:

    thanks, MM. I honestly never liked som’s but some friends do and for some reason, i’ve never been able to sway their opinion …

    i tried azuthai recently and it wasn’t bad at all. Wouldn’t be considered inexpensive though.

    Jan 18, 2010 | 10:57 am

     
  25. Lee says:

    @ atbnorge: Patay ang Pad Thai. hehehe. mag pate’ na lang sila.

    Jan 18, 2010 | 10:57 am

     
  26. apm says:

    After a meal like that you should exorcise the bad thai food demons and go to Benjarong. Chariya is also capable of dishing out credible cheap thai food.

    Jan 18, 2010 | 10:59 am

     
  27. Marketman says:

    apm, Benjarong is the one at Dusit Thani, right? I had a good meal there once. And I do like People’s Palace, though I find it a bit pricey and portions too diet like. However, when pressed, I would recommend People’s Palace for Thai without hesitation. And I have had a pretty good lunch at Azuthai, and have always been a fan of the restaurants in the Milky Way, Tsukiji, El Cirkulo family…

    Jan 18, 2010 | 11:41 am

     
  28. sonny sj says:

    na mi-miss ko tuloy yun Sukothai.

    Jan 18, 2010 | 1:05 pm

     
  29. Lady E says:

    Thank you MM! We always pass by SOM’s on our way to Powerplant and I always ask my boyfriend if we could eat there or if he wanted to try the food there. He always says NO. And I always tell him that SOM’s got good reviews. He’s a picky eater and your review saved us a few hundred bucks! I would’ve drowned in bad Thai food as I will be forced to finish everything para di sayang ang pera.. Whew!

    Jan 18, 2010 | 1:18 pm

     
  30. emsy says:

    i loved their curried prawns when i ate there, but that’s because it tasted like the curry i had growing up: sweet, thick coconut milk and curry powder. but yeah, NOTHING like Thai cuisine. thinking about it, i never really got the craving to go back after that one visit.

    Jan 18, 2010 | 3:19 pm

     
  31. morointhecity says:

    apart from the lackluster food, it is also not safe for your car. this is where we got victimized by the “basag kotse” gang. the thief broke the passenger window and got our bags and belongings. if we didn’t press for the staff to call the barangay or police, they wouldnt care less. so now, we head to jatujak at the mall of asia if we wanted to have thai. i say never again to soms

    Jan 18, 2010 | 3:42 pm

     
  32. iya says:

    too bad, i like soms! i’m a sucker for street food kasi. :p

    but images of the scurrying rat will cross my mind the next time i go there. hala, scared na ako. :(

    Jan 18, 2010 | 5:43 pm

     
  33. glibert says:

    haven’t been to thailand so i can’t tell what “authentic” thai food is but i’ve been to jatujak, krung thai (marikina), khao pad (ortigas home depot), sukhothai, som’s and sr thai (dapitan branch). my fave hands down is sukhothai of course…but coming in 2nd would be SR Thai.

    i also think Som’s is overrated. i went there 2 or 3 years ago. it became popular probably because it was said that the cook is the same cook from sukhothai. but i also heard a rumor before that thai-in-a-box pirated the cook of sukhothai before. i’m not sure what’s true. hehe.

    anyway, try SR Thai :)

    Jan 18, 2010 | 5:51 pm

     
  34. blah says:

    YES! THANK YOU! finally a real review of Som’s. i too have heard a great deal (of good things) about Som’s from friends and from blogs, so i was excited to try it out.

    i had catfish salad, tom yum, siomai (don’t know what came over me), pandan chicken, and (cringe) the pad thai. i also noticed that everything was waaay too sweet, and lacked spiciness. even the crushed red pepper that i requested had no heat whatsoever.

    the P60 order of siomai tasted like bread (and the soy sauce they served with it was sweet). the tom yum would have been ok, if it were not so sweet. the pad thai was just horrendous–i felt like i was eating flat noodles with UFC ketchup & sugar, which had been sitting out all day. i couldn’t eat more than 2 bites of it.

    i was very, very disappointed considering all the great reviews i had heard about the place.

    the only thing i enjoyed was the thai iced tea. i would consider going back for that.

    Jan 18, 2010 | 6:21 pm

     
  35. Nel says:

    Uy! SR Thai, meron pa ba nun? Jatujak is ok but even the road side stalls in Thailand are way better than what we have here. So sad really.

    Jan 18, 2010 | 6:31 pm

     
  36. millet says:

    lee, ayan ka na naman :-)

    Jan 18, 2010 | 8:33 pm

     
  37. chuchu says:

    didn’t like their pad thai too! it was too sweet and the noodles were soggy and it didn’t look appetizing at all. last time we went there, service was sooo bagal! Also, I think their food is loaded with MSG. Love their thai iced tea though.

    Thanks for the review MM!

    Jan 18, 2010 | 9:19 pm

     
  38. rosemarie says:

    Thank you, MM. At least now, I dont need to experiment on new resto/hawkers/carinderias when I go home hopefully this year. it will save me money on food tasting alone. I can just imagine how awfully frustrating it is when they try to c lone authentic food. They should have renamed it some thai. I thought it is a cousin of Sams in Hawaii. at any rate, i love it when you are true and honest – it will save us balikbayas some of our hard earned money when we go home. Hopefully, they might improve it and take it as a positive criticism. Maybe then- we will see. can you write some of the cebuano recipes like pochero,bam-i. i remember eating this when i was at med school in cebu. happy MLK day to you. i also miss julie’s bakeshop there. also not to forget the crispy fried chicken skin at sunset or was it sunrise??- is it still there?
    ps.atbnorge- your comment makes me laugh..you are so funny…hahaha…

    Jan 19, 2010 | 2:09 am

     
  39. Marketman says:

    rosemarie, yes, I do have recipes for bam-i and pochero in the archives. Just search or use google and type “bam-i marketmanila”…

    Jan 19, 2010 | 6:16 am

     
  40. Joseph says:

    Well, bago pa lang ang SOMS (Orange in English and also the name of the daughter FYI) kumakakain na kami ng mga friends ko dun. It was ok but not that great and it was cheap at that time. Now na nandito ako sa Thailand for 4 yearsna and thinking about the difference I ‘d to say malaki ang difference when you compare the food here in Thailand and SOMs. I think, its because the thai husband(Lasenggo hehe) is sick and left everything kay Manang to handle everything. Just like any other business dyan sa Manila when they expand, quality and service suffer, haayy Filipino nga naman alang pagbabago.

    Jan 19, 2010 | 11:14 am

     
  41. loveTOeat says:

    i haven’t eaten at any of som’s branches… there was just once that my family was supposed to eat at som’s t.morato because of the raves we often hear… i first went in while hubby’s parking the car, and i came out almost immediately as the entire place smells like bathroom sanitizer but it doesn’t smell “clean” (don’t know how else to describe it)… (nakakasuka for me)… good thing i was put off by the place’s smell, or else we would have eaten there… thanks to your review, i won’t even attempt to eat there next time…

    heard some good things also about jatujak… tried it once but i wasn’t impressed at all… the pad thai tastes like instant pancit canton… i don’t know if it was just an isolated case (bad day for the chef maybe?)…

    too bad there aren’t too many good thai restos around the metro =(

    Jan 19, 2010 | 2:31 pm

     
  42. kitchen says:

    Try Thai Dara along Valencia drive, valencia heights q.c.

    Jan 19, 2010 | 2:48 pm

     
  43. i love sta.rosa says:

    MM, pasalamat pa nga sila, kasi di mo na ni rate yung rat, heheheh, sabi mo nga kasi, it has nothing to do with Som’s hehehehehhehe……. pero if ever MM nakita mo talaga sa loob ng resto yung rat….ano kaya ang rate nila? hehehehhe

    Jan 19, 2010 | 3:01 pm

     
  44. arch2662 says:

    had the privilege of enjoying SR thai for atleast 5 years at home. My mom used to have an order/take out delivery business in Makati. Its a franchise from the SR thai Dapitan restaurant that’s near UST. Unfortunately, my mom just got tired of it. Atleast, the bagoong rice is still served at home.

    Jan 19, 2010 | 3:27 pm

     
  45. Paul says:

    If you want affordable and delicious Thai food try KHAO PAD located at Ortigas Home Depot behind Starbucks. Almost everyday ako kumakain dito when I was in college. Very affordable at sakto sa budget. See below link.

    http://www.ourawesomeplanet.com/awesome/2009/09/khao-pad.html

    Jan 19, 2010 | 4:42 pm

     
  46. andrei says:

    If you wanted cheap Thai Food go try THUK THAI. It’s at San Miguel Avenue in Mandaluyong at the Back of RUFO’s Tapa House. I’ve tried SOMS but this is way better… Dont expect too much on the ambience cause this one is located in an alley…

    Jan 19, 2010 | 4:46 pm

     
  47. kitongzki says:

    I haven’t tried Som’s but might give it a try soon… Hygiene is an issue but as they say, minsan mas masarap kumain sa mga akala mo maduming kainan… I even enjoy the pares here sa makati and even sa jolly jeep… ok naman… we often joke about it as “Mura na madumi pa…” but i never got sick eating in places where you wouldn’t want to it. hehehe… Matibay lang yata talaga sikmura ko…

    Pero I’ll take note of your comments regarding their curry, ako kasi kapag curry, gusto ko spicy talaga… para makadami ng rice… nyahahaha

    Jan 19, 2010 | 5:15 pm

     
  48. ifoodtrip.com says:

    I’ve eaten at Som’s around three times since it is so near I live and I will never go back there again. I totally agree with your comments about the restaurant. Once I ordered a some soup and noodles with pork for take out, when i got home (a 2 minute drive), the soup turned red, meaning they cured the pork with food coloring or it was a fake cure! I still don’t understand why people like this restaurant. I’m guessing it’s the novelty of eating something not usual in a carinderia setting. How this restaurant made it to the Miele guide is a big wonder and it made so disappointed with the book that I never even bothered to read it.

    A restaurant similar to Som’s but better and a bit more authentic is Chariya’s Thai Kitchen (http://www.ifoodtrip.com/2009/11/chariyas-thai-kitchen_28.html). They have problems with their consistency though so I hope its good if and when you try it.

    Jan 19, 2010 | 7:12 pm

     
  49. Marketman says:

    I have to say, I am really quite surprised by reader responses to this post. I was prepared to get a bit skewered over the coals from loyal Som’s fans, but nary a single one has spoken up for them… so I am truly wondering how this place has gotten such rave reviews (though a google search yields lots of mediocre reviews as well). This on a best restaurant shortlist for Manila? I think NOT.

    Jan 19, 2010 | 8:58 pm

     
  50. ifoodtrip.com says:

    There are so many other mediocre places in the city that people flock to. Rufo’s for example, the tapa is swimming in this oily sauce that made me feel dizzy but people still go there. North Park (oh how i miss the glory days when they first opened) and Hap Chan are always full but the food is bad. I’m beginning to think Filipinos have bad taste in general.

    Jan 19, 2010 | 9:28 pm

     
  51. maddie says:

    Saw this recently. I wonder if it’s any better. Have not eaten in Som’s. I’m too afraid to eat anything that resembles street food in Manila.

    Thai Dara
    Gilmore Street
    http://www.ourawesomeplanet.com/awesome/best_buffets_in_metro_manila/

    Jan 19, 2010 | 10:27 pm

     
  52. roxy831 says:

    I had a horror experience with Som’s also.. first time I tried it, nonetheless. I ordered the pad thai. It was cold!!! Like left-over pad thai that they just kept at the refigerator, but they left the heating portion out. My boyfriend likes the seafood noodles though. I’ve never eaten again eversince. But did you notice the building being built beside it? The waitress said they’re moving na daw there. Jatujak is better, and cleaner. Thuk Thai was a favorite joint we’d go to before . Very cramped kitchen but at least you know they cook the food right before they serve it to you!

    Jan 19, 2010 | 10:42 pm

     
  53. JE says:

    I’ve always been curious about how the food here tasted, since I never ate here before. I think your post just sapped the curiosity right out of me. Thanks for the heads-up.

    Jan 19, 2010 | 11:02 pm

     
  54. Lex says:

    For the many who still have not tried Soms and are still planning to try it inspite of the bad reviews here…..what can I say…………… Amazing how bad food can be tolerated for so long

    Jan 20, 2010 | 8:30 am

     
  55. liyapot says:

    madalas din kami kumain sa SR Thai sa dapitan near USTe noong college days some ten years ago.. pag special occassions lang kami kumakain don kasi di kaya ng allowance to eat there everyday, minsan lagi pang puno ng students pag lunch break kaya ang hirap kumuha ng table!

    Jan 20, 2010 | 12:45 pm

     
  56. zee says:

    for cheap authentic Thai food, try Khao Pad in Ortigas. “Mommy” the old lady who cooks the food is super sweet. my friends and I used to eat in her carinderia in UP (then called, tadah! UP Thai Canteen). she disappeared for a few years and resurfaced at the Ortigas Home depot (its a few stores away from Starbux, some pizza place).

    The mixed toppings are yummy! The tom yum too! She introduced other “more popular” thai dishes but I prefer the simpler dishers. Parang lutong bahay. Thai nga lang :)

    I’m sure other people would say otherwise. but to me Mommy’s thai cooking is the best ;p

    Jan 20, 2010 | 12:51 pm

     
  57. shalum says:

    i agree. the very reason i still haven’t eaten there. upgrade on the sanitation please. i’m sure the health inspector should have taken care of that.

    Jan 20, 2010 | 1:52 pm

     
  58. kikahead says:

    Would the reason for the popularity be due to the sweetness of everything? There are restaurants that I do not like because the food tastes too sweet but are loved by most. I seem to come across this especially with Indian food–when I love it, natives hate it and vice versa. Actually I notice it with a lot of Italian restaurants here also…..

    Jan 20, 2010 | 3:57 pm

     
  59. corrine says:

    The best for me in Thai cuisine are Flavors and Spices and Sukothai. Benjarong is very good. People’s Palace not so good. So hard to eat out nowadays. Many are a let down. :(

    Jan 20, 2010 | 8:15 pm

     
  60. Sabs says:

    I like Thuk Thai in Ortigas, somewhere near UA&P :)

    Jan 21, 2010 | 11:29 am

     
  61. Mom-Friday says:

    Agree with Corrine, my faves were Sukothai (was in Megamall) and Flavors and Spices (El Pueblo, Ortigas). And lately, the Thai resto at the ground floor of the new Eastwood mall.

    Jan 21, 2010 | 11:48 pm

     
  62. Nanna says:

    I hate Som’s too! I also tried chariya’s in 168 and it sucked too. If khao pad is the same as the old Mommy Thai in Balara then perhaps this will be the answer for my quest for cheap thai eats! I still remember the tom yum soup from mommy thai during my UP days. yummy and cheap!

    Jan 22, 2010 | 12:54 am

     
  63. Eileen says:

    Thanks for this honest review MM! I can now take this restaurant off my “must try” restaurants list! :)

    Jan 22, 2010 | 1:01 pm

     
  64. wltrrbls says:

    Best Thai restaurant I found was Krung Thai in Marikina. I don’t know if it’s still there after Ondoy, though.

    Jan 22, 2010 | 3:21 pm

     
  65. Mina says:

    There’s a SOMS in Mandaluyong near the Municipal Hall. Any Feedback on that branch?

    is there a cheap Thai restaurant you could recommend besides Soms and Chariya’s?

    Jan 23, 2010 | 7:18 pm

     
  66. zap says:

    I’ve heard a bit about Som’s too but never got around to eat there. Buti na lang. Don’t really know what authentic Thai food tastes like, but I liked dining at Muang Thai on Malakas St. in QC. If anything else, the food was flavorful and the place clean and decent. Hopefully they’ve kept the quality up to par over the years.

    Jan 24, 2010 | 1:22 am

     
  67. amie says:

    how about muang thai in qc? certainly the best for me.

    Jan 25, 2010 | 7:49 pm

     
  68. browneyedgirl says:

    yes, whatever happened to sukothai? food there wasn’t bad. i also seem to be missing thai in a box.

    Jan 28, 2010 | 2:24 pm

     
  69. tamale8888 says:

    Never dined there. After this review, I won’t even try. *:)
    Yeah, I miss Sukothai, too.*:(

    Feb 11, 2010 | 1:29 pm

     
  70. C says:

    Amen. Everything there is too sweet. Ugh.

    Feb 12, 2010 | 2:18 am

     
  71. Lynnie says:

    I’ve been intrigued with this place for quite some time as well. I just never found other reasons to drive all the way to that area other than to try this resto. It’s a good thing I stumbled on this review. At least this is one more resto I can cross off my list of places to find and dine when I feel a little adventurous.
    Glad to hear that some people like Jatujak and the Thai Kitchen over this place. These restos are the places I go to when I need to have some good affordable Thai food.
    I used to love eating at Sukothai and like so many readers here, wonder why it’s no longer around.

    Feb 16, 2010 | 3:08 am

     
  72. Manila Restaurants says:

    I was very disappointed in the taste of their Tom Yum, it was the worst I’ve ever had

    Mar 17, 2010 | 10:40 pm

     
  73. Hazel says:

    Ate at Soms for the first time on Saturday. They upgraded their place and moved to the squat building beside the old stall. Food wasn’t great, like other people have said. Won’t be coming back to this place soon. :)

    Apr 5, 2010 | 1:27 pm

     
  74. masusanatan says:

    my bestfriend raves about som’s but when i tried it, i didn’t like it. I was disappointed bcuz i love spicy food and i was expecting to love thai food. (som’s was my first thai resto to try) when i went to bkk, i realized som’s just doesn’t serve good food. i wonder why it’s so popular. you got that hygiene part so right! I am not very particular with restrooms but theirs just won’t do.

    Apr 28, 2010 | 11:49 am

     
  75. D.I. says:

    I think this is the first Som’s review I read that had terrible things to say about the restaurant and I fully agree with everything you mentioned. Their curries are anything but authentic. I tried green chicken curry and red beef curry and I could hardly taste the difference. Green and red curries have very distinct flavors and it almost seemed like what they used is the same curry and then colored the sauce green or red.

    I miss Flavors and Spices!!!!

    By the way, I only found out about your blog yesterday and I have got to say, I’m hooked! You give better reviews than Anton (sorry OurAwesomePlanet).

    I would also just like to share that I stayed at Sitio Remedios August of last year (at Balay Piddig) and I had the most amazing experience. I agree that the prices are pretty steep and their bathrooms can still be improved but the service we were given was just exceptional.

    May 27, 2010 | 2:46 pm

     
  76. dee says:

    Whatever bad publicity about Som’s, i still prefer to eat there. Just say what you want to say, i like thier bagoong rice and red/green curry as well, and to tell you the place is very crowded everynight, I think they won’t agree with you guys.

    Jun 8, 2010 | 5:39 pm

     
  77. Marketman says:

    dee, they don’t have to agree with my opinion, and neither do you. If you are happy to eat that kind of food, then continue to do so with no qualms from me. Millions of people eat instant noodles every day in the Philippines — instant noodles are nutritional CRAP, filled with fat, MSG and carbohydrates of the worst kind. They have little redeeming value in terms of nutrition, vitamins, minerals, good fiber, etc. — but that doesn’t stop their “popularity”. Popularity does NOT determine whether something is well made or not. As for Som’s curry, try a real curry at an authentic Thai restaurant and you will hopefully see the difference. But it’s not my problem if you can’t.

    Jun 8, 2010 | 8:11 pm

     
  78. Dorothy says:

    Have to agree with MM. Only tried SOM’s once and never going back.

    Aug 17, 2010 | 11:13 am

     
  79. Mina says:

    I’ve just discovered a new Thai restaurant in Marikina City, near the market and in front of Mercury Drug store.
    liked the Pad Thai, Tom Yum Soup, catfish salad and the Fried Chicken.
    the name just escaped me but i think it is KRung Thai.

    Nov 11, 2010 | 3:55 pm

     
  80. jackdoe says:

    Ate at Som’s Noodle House last Monday. We were a six in a group and our total bill was Php1,093.00 WOW. We had fried rice with beef, red curry beef, fried lumpia, 6 thai iced teas, an apetizer and pad thai. I was so full after. Authentic Thai in a budget!

    Nov 24, 2010 | 12:04 pm

     
  81. jjb says:

    what constitutes authentic Thai food?

    Nov 27, 2010 | 12:13 am

     
  82. Noi says:

    try S.R Thai Cuisine at V.Concepcion st. corner Dapitan you also can find their location on facebook, if you really want authentic thai foods don’t go during busy time (11am – 1.30pm) and ask the owner that you want authentic thai foods that is more spicy and tasty.

    Jan 4, 2011 | 8:16 pm

     
 

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