If you’ve been around the block here in Bali, you know the name Will Meyrick—the British ‘Street Food Chef’ of Indonesia, and the man responsible for the absurdly good Hujan Locale, Mamasan, Sarong, and Tiger Palm. But his latest venture, Som Chai, is truthfully a step up.
The restaurant is a bit unassumingly located on Jl. Raya Kerobokan, but blink and you’ll miss it. And that’s kind of the point. Som Chai is laid out to feel like a back alley gem you accidentally stumbled into while blissfully drinking your way through Bangkok (is there any other way to experience BKK?)
Here’s how it works: you enter Som Chai and step into a dimly-lit bar. Low seating, plush interior, and a vibe that oozes upscale and sexy. Cabaret girls are sitting on swings, bathed in red light (nope, we’re not kidding). Everyone seems to be chatting about something dark and secretive.
Then you open the cocktail menu and your jaw drops. This is a Will Meyrick restaurant, after all, so some strong, creative drinks should be expected. Som Chai doesn’t disappoint, with dozens of Thai-themed cocktails. Be prepared; it might be hard to move on from your spot at the bar.
We sipped on a Passionfruit Old Fashioned, which arrived topped with a thick, delicious foam made of that heavenly fruit. Then a stiff, gentlemanly Rye Manhattan, and a Siam Julep, with bourbon, honey, nutmeg, and mint, before we had to remind ourselves that behind the bar was a restaurant and it was time for dinner.
Here’s the trick Som Chai plays on you—just when you’re feeling like a Bangkok crime boss at the bar, you step into a huge, airy restaurant with a decidedly more celebratory feeling. Meyrick’s wrapped two sides of Thailand into one hell of a night.
The rundown on the food: it is delicious. We spent the weekend prior in the actual city of Bangkok, and some of Meyrick’s dishes somehow beat the real deal. Even we couldn’t believe it.
We dug into soft shell crab “miang kham,” topped with dried coconut, peanuts, and a tasty, sweet fish sauce, plus the perfectly tender “nam doc” salad, which swirled grilled beef with red onion, mint, coriander, rice, and a chili lime sauce. The Massaman curry, an obvious crowd favorite, was show-stopping—thick and hearty but with a perfect, light coconut flavor. Seeing a trend here? Spicy, sweet, fresh, tropical—everything you want from great Thai food.
Som Chai won’t scare away your vegetarian friends, either—their veg “pad see ew” had a deep, mesmerizing flavor (and no fish sauce!).
This is a restaurant where one drink turns into three, where you look at your phone and realize the whole night has slipped away and you’re slap-happy—even though your lips are still burning.
Listen, Bali does Balinese food amazingly. We do Italian food really well, we’ve got some on-point Japanese joints, too. With Som Chai, the bar for our island’s Thai food has officially been raised. Really, really high.
Go check it out: Som Chai
Find it: Jl Raya Kerobokan 86 A Kuta Utara