NYC Best Thai Food: “Som Tum Thai” Papaya Salad at Zabb Elee in East Village

Date November 19, 2013

Shredded papaya, vinegar, fish sauce, peanuts, fermented dry shrimp, Thai chiles, string beans, tomato, and iceberg lettuce.  Simple, fresh, sweet, sour, salty, and oh so spicy.  This salad has it all.  When you’ve eaten all the good stuff, dip pieces of sticky rice in the dressing that collects underneath and you have a second meal.   This salad is one of my favorite Thai dishes and simply one of my favorite salads in New York City.  The fermented dry shrimp add a definite funky flavor and texture which can be a bit tough to overcome for some people but you can just tell them to keep that out or on the side.  They’re happy to oblige as every salad is made fresh.  If you love Thai food but haven’t been to Zabb Elee, it’s time. They offer a Thai experience unlike any other because they specialize in Isan Thai (northeastern Thailand) where there’s not really any noodles, just lots of great salads (warm and cold) and stir fries.  At Zabb Elee you order on a five-level heat chart.  Anything above three seems to be pretty face-melting.  My favorite dish there is the Kana Moo Krob which features crispy chunks of fatty pork belly wok sauteed in soy sauce, chile and garlic along with snappy strands of Chinese broccoli. It always hits the spot.

Zabb Elee

75 2nd Avenue b/t 4th & 5th Street

New York, NY 10003

(212) 505-9533

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