Isan Lunch

I just got back from lunch with Nid and a couple of other women who work in the office. We went to a really great restaurant near the school. The restaurant specializes in Isan food. The northwestern region where Khon Kaen is located is called Isan. Today we had sticky rice, som tam, a grilled fish, an omelet, lemongrass chicken soup, and some type of fish dish. We sat on the floor of a fun bamboo gazebo-type thing with a low table in it.

Som tam is a salad made from unripe papaya, fish sauce, chilies, peanuts, tomatoes, and lime. It is really popular; one of my students even said that she lives for som tam. There are two types of som tam: som tam thai and som tam lao. Som tam thai is the som tam I just described. It’s really good. Som tam lao is more popular in Isan. It is much spicier, it doesn’t have any peanuts, and it has fermented fish in it. I’ve tried som tam lao, but I much prefer som tam thai.

Most of the food today was spicy, but not too spicy to eat. It was really delicious and a nice change from eating noodles at the Education dept. cafeteria!

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