Green Papaya Salad

Green Papaya Salad from Soma, Ubud

Although Soma caters to what can be a pretentious audience, the restaurant maintains a cozy and relaxed air. The prices are high-ish, but I find that tends to come alongside raw food no matter where you are. This is a moderately small place, with some outdoor bar style tables facing the street, should you wish for a breeze and some people-watching while you eat.

The first two pages of the menu consist only of drinks, from juices and teas to smoothies and beer. I went with the lemongrass ginger ale (they were out of beer), which wasn’t ginger ale at all, but delicious all the same. It consisted of fresh ginger juice and lemongrass, with water and some form of sweetener.

For my meal I ordered the green papaya salad, a heaped plate of “marinated green papaya in a nest of greens topped with tomatoes, sprouts, cashews, mint, cilantro, and Thai basil in a sweet and sour tamarind dressing.” The salad was served piled high on a bed of lettuce.

The dressing was quite sharp and, at least personally, I felt it would have been more balanced with a sweetener to cut away some of the bitterness imparted by the papaya and greens. I think that addition would’ve helped to bring the tanginess of the tamarind to the prominence it deserved. One other minor fuss: the herbs hardly shined through and, when it comes to a salad from this part of the world, I want herbs to star. Some salt (and maybe some roasted peanuts) also wouldn’t have gone amiss.

I’m sounding much more negative than I mean to be, because really my final impression was of a good salad that could be great (its flavour did grow on me as the meal went on). I wouldn’t rush back to try it again, but it is one of the more inspirational dishes I had on the island, and it felt great to eat some raw veggies in that oppressing heat. Plus I am eating more and more raw food at home (no, I do not plan to go raw) and it’s always nice to get some fresh ideas.

Soma is a top spot for an afternoon break. Grab a fresh drink (vegans should beware of excessive honey juice in beverages), catch up on journalling, reading, or daydreaming, and enjoy.


Any references to teaspoons, tablespoons, cups, or any fraction thereof, are based on American measurements.

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