Off-the-menu eats at new Thai spot

By Korea Herald

Krap Pom takes an underground approach to Thai food

Published : Aug 11, 2017 - 17:57
Updated : Aug 11, 2017 - 17:57

Everything about Krap Pom, a new Thai eatery that opened in Sinsa-dong, Seoul, is underground.

Not only is the restaurant located in the basement, the place also sequesters a slew of off-the-menu specialties that one either has to intuitively order or discover by monitoring the restaurant’s Instagram feed, where owner Lee Hyun-jong posts new dishes.

“The dishes that have passed the test are the ones we post on Instagram,” said Lee, 34. 

Krap Pom’s pla neung manao (back, left) -- steamed fish spiced up with chilies, lime and garlic (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)

Lee added that if ingredients are available the dishes can be ordered on the day of the visit, but it would be wise to call in a day in advance if one really wants a particular dish.

Krap Pom, which is a polite variation of “yes” in Thai, is Lee’s earnest attempt to transplant Thai food onto Korean turf.

Before Lee jumped into the restaurant business with Krap Pom this May, he was traveling regularly to Bangkok on business.

“I usually seek out Korean food when I travel but when I traveled to Thailand I ended up eating Thai food all the time,” he said. “I didn’t crave Korean food.” 

Krap Pom’s popular soft shell crab yellow curry (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)

Lee decided to channel his love of Thai food into a restaurant.

“The menu here is compiled of dishes that I like to eat,” he said.

Those dishes include the establishment’s popular soft shell crab yellow curry, which is served up in a generous heap of large hunks of crab that boast crisp, shaggy crusts and soft, juicy centers.

“We use two whole soft shell crabs per order,” Lee admitted to a tendency to go for big portions. “We coat them in tapioca flour and fry them.”

Krap Pom’s take on tod mun goong, fried shrimp cakes, is another example of its penchant for hefty servings.

At Krap Pom, these cakes are roughly the size of a hockey puck in circumference, making them quite substantial.

“We mince all the shrimp in-house by hand,” Lee said, demonstrating how the shrimp are finely chopped. “We only make these in the morning so if we run out then we cannot sell any more that day.”

In addition to these satisfying on-the-menu dishes, there are also off-the-menu options like fragrant stir-fried spinach, homey suki heng and visually impressive pla neung manao. 

Krap Pom, a Thai food restaurant, opened this May in Sinsa-dong, Seoul. (Photo credit: Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)

One can watch head chef Chaiya as he expertly wields the wok to get the flames to barely touch the spinach in Krap Pom’s open kitchen. Within seconds he is plating the tasty greens and topping it with some fried garlic.

He demonstrates the same deft swiftness with suki haeng, using the wok to create a beautiful mass of thin glass noodles, shards of soft egg offset by crisp celery and Chinese cabbage for a heartwarming and fortifying dish.

Then there is Krap Pom’s pla neung manao, a whole steamed fish spiced with chilies, lime and slices of garlic for an experience that is delicate and fiery.

Other recent secret additions include green curry, Massaman curry and rad na -- a rice noodle dish.

“There is a diverse array of dishes in Thailand,” said Lee, a statement that hints fortuitously for those looking forward to more secret eats to come.

Krap Pom, a Thai food restaurant, opened this May in Sinsa-dong, Seoul. (Photo credit: Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)

Krap Pom

B1, 655-15 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul

(02) 6018-7318

Open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily

Dishes cost 8,000 won to 27,000 won, rice and additional noodles cost 2,000 won

By Jean Oh (


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