Thai Restaurant, "SomChai"

CONTRIBUTED BY KELLYERACE

Okay, now this is one of those places that you kind of feel guilty writing about because it is a little treasure, and you don’t want to meddle with all the things that make it so endearing. So, I’ll keep this post short and hope that you don’t even notice it’s here. And further hope that SomChai’s regulars don’t hunt me down and do bad things to me for calling attention to the spot they hold dear to their hearts.

So just a few key words, the obligitory snapshot or two. And then I’m all done. Promise.

I. Key words (in word association form): You say “SomChai”, I say…
“Thai. Colorful. Spicy. Lemongrass. Alleyway. Yum. Down-to-earth. Pumpkin.”

II. And the snapshots:

Soups
The rich and tangy soup, “Tom Kha”, a glass of Thai tea, and a side soup.

Pumpkin
I’d certainly ask for this pumpkin custard for desert. There’s a caramel, lemongrass kind of sauce you pour over it which is sticky and plate-lickin’ good.

Cookin
Here’s Richard, the proprietor, cookin’ away. He’s some kind of friendly.

Menujulia
Thanks, Julia, for sending along this pic. of some of SomChai’s scrumptious menu items

Interior
The interior.

Facade
And the exterior.


SomChai

SomChai hours

Hours (Updated October 2016):
Open Tuesday – Saturday

LUNCH: 11:30-2pm daily
DINNER:
Tues-Thurs 4:30 – 6:30pm
Fri-Sat 5:30 p.m. – 0:00 pm

Closed Sunday and Monday

Payment: Yen only

Phone: 098-937-2208

Address: 1 Chome-17-14 Chuo, Okinawa

Google Maps Coordinates: 26.3375095, 127.80123630000003

Directions: From Kadena Gate 2, go straight down Gate 2 Street until you reach 330. Hang a left at 330. Hang another left at the building “Hide Away”. You are now on Park Ave. Look for a cafe/bar called Sideways on your left hand side and turn left right after it. (You’ll have to have parked your car somewhere though, cause the left you take here is a pedestrian street. Also, if you’ve reached the Bamboo Cafe — whose jerk chicken, Thai style soup and curries reader, Darby, recommends BTW — on Park Ave, you’ve gone too far.) SomChai is diagonally across from Sideways.


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43 Comments
  • April 13, 2016

    This is the BEST place ever! Service and food!! Love you guys and always enjoy bringing guests!

    Reply
  • May 26, 2015

    My #1 place to eat here in Okinawa! The best Thai food I’ve ever had! I recommend everyone to try it. The owner Richard is awesome and the staff makes you feel so welcomed 🙂

    Stephanie
    Reply
  • March 10, 2015

    This is by far the best Thai on the Island! We go here almost every week. Richard and Miki are wonderfully nice and call all the regulars by name. Waiting…sure we have had to wait 30minutes to an hour sometimes for a table…but we gladly do it. The food and the charm of Som Chai it totally worth it. My family loves this place. This will be the first thing I miss when I leave Okinawa!

    Ronda
    Reply
  • November 7, 2014

    This is the best Thai place I have been to here on Oki, but I won’t be going back. Ever. We just waited thirty minutes for a table, which is not unusual. I had come in and sat down in the little chair by the front door. My family waited outside. When the first table became available I got up and told the gentleman that has come in right before we did that a table had opened. He sat down. Then another table started to open up. All of the sudden a party of eight showed up in the place. I had seen one man from their party waiting, but he had come AFTER us. The gal said that he would get the next two tables. I interrupted and stated that we had been waiting and he had come after us… He had to pass me when he came in! Certainly the other seven people in his party had just gotten there. Nope. She said it had been him. Perhaps I was invisible while I sat in the chair at the front. I will not be back. I will also urge people not to go here.

    Crystal
    Reply
  • April 22, 2014

    Delish Thai food and the owner is super nice. For right now they are only accepting take out orders.

    Jessica
    Reply
  • December 13, 2013

    Here are the current hours as of December 2013

    Open: Tues – Sat 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm (last order at 9:30)

    Closed: Sun & Mon

    Phone: 098-937-2208

    Yen only

    Rob
    Reply
    • December 13, 2013

      Thanks Rob! I’ve updated the post with this new information.

      islandmanager
      Reply
  • September 28, 2013

    We are very interested in checking this place out. We lovvvvvveeeeee Thai food as my family is Thai. Does anyone know the current hours of the restaurant?

    Thanks!

    Jake and Maria
    Reply
  • August 23, 2013

    Best Thai food on the island! We got hooked on this place last year and have to go at least a few times a month. Everything is so flavorful and the desserts are awesome too 🙂

    Steve
    Reply
  • November 28, 2012

    Amazing! Tried the pad Thai, latna, chicken salad, Tom kha soup, and black rice pudding. We ate every last morsel of food! Prices are great. We will be back!

    JMA
    Reply
  • July 10, 2012

    Real good food. Good portions and cook works with you . Loved the pork pineapple fried rice special.

    Jerry's
    Reply
  • May 13, 2012

    Every dish I’ve ordered here has been delicious — but there is a lot left on the menu I haven’t tried, so I (happily) have many visits in my future! Some menu items are consistent from visit to visit (the pad thai, for example, is always on the menu) but others rotate. The desserts, for example, have been different every time I’ve been. Once it was a cardamom sweet potato cheesecake, and the last time I was there I gobbled down the fantastically delicious salty-sweet black rice pudding with coconut cream.

    It’s a little difficult to tell people how to get here sometimes (I’ve had to walk out to Gate 2 street to guide them in a few times), but I think the food is worth the extra walk.

    Usually I park by Gate 2 and walk down, but there is also some (paid) parking nearby. As I said, directions are difficult to give, but these should work … after you turn left onto BC Street (Park Ave.) from 330 you will see the bar “Sideways” mentioned in the directions above. Keep driving. At the NEXT intersection, turn left. The parking is an open lot one block down on your right, with a lot attendant in a small booth. The attendant will take your car keys and give you a ticket … when you order your food at SomChai, they will validate your ticket for 1 hour worth of parking (this was valid as of May 2012).

    GT
    Reply
  • March 31, 2012

    their hours as of 14 feb 2012 were:
    tue-sat 1700-2200 (last order 2130)
    as well as every 1st and 2nd monday

    i had the tom kha gai, and was EXTREMELY happy with it. my hubby asked for very spicy pad thai, and he enjoyed it though it burned my mouth. thai tea was decadent.

    lauren
    Reply
  • March 25, 2012

    does anyone know the current hours? The last two times I went they were closed. thanks

    Kate
    Reply
  • February 6, 2012

    Som Chai hours have changed a lot since posts above. Dinner only now.

    Kara
    Reply
  • January 25, 2012

    Just went there and food was fantastic. We had the special, the curry, the Ladna (thick noodles), and Thai Fried Rice. I didn’t try the fried rice. Apparently it was not as good as the others, but the kids gobbled it up. The special was a tender calamari in a spicy sauce with some sauteed bok choy to tone it down. Ladna had a nice fried sauce smoky flavor. Service was friendly and food was cooked right in front of us. Kids loved the flames coming out of the frying/wok pans.

    AsiaFan
    Reply
  • January 12, 2012

    the writer needs a better photographer…one that knows how to focus wether manual or auto…

    lakerfan
    Reply
  • June 17, 2011

    We went there last weekend and LOVED it! Just FYI though, for those going off the price list from the menu picture above, they have sinced raised all those prices by 200Y so most menu items are around 850Y and up vs. 650Yish as shown. It is delicious and well worth it though. Enjoy!

    K
    Reply
  • March 30, 2011

    One more Thai option: There’s a Thai lady on Kadena named Sarin and she sells homemade Thai food. It is fabulous and rumored to have the best Pad Thai on the island (we agree)! We’ve now had 4 of her dishes and each has been excellent.
    If you email her [email protected] and ask for a menu she’ll email you a 2 page menu with all of her dishes. Each is $10 or 1000 yen. You can specify mild, med, or hot and whatever day/time you’d like to pick it up (except Sundays) and order a day ahead of time by phone 080-3459-9652 or email. She lives in Washington Heights, the neighborhood near the Family Housing office. We highly recommend it. Enjoy!

    amy
    Reply
    • November 9, 2011

      I just found out that the Thai Lady on Kadena named Sarin in amy’s post isn’t able to cook anymore. Public Health is shutting down all the home businesses that cook food from home for sale. Public Health has threatened them with fines. It’s bad enough that dependant spouses can’t find employment when they move to the island. A majority of the on-base jobs are guaranteed only to Japanese and there aren’t enough left over’s for those dependant spouses who want to work. Now they make it harder for people who are innovative enough to create a solution. Shame on you Public Health! We’ll miss you Sarin!

      Emily
      Reply
  • February 23, 2011

    SomChai will be closing for the lunchtime hours – but staying open later for dinner…stop in to get the details — beginning in March 2011, no more lunch. BOOOOOO!!!!! 🙂

    Ei
    Reply
  • September 5, 2010

    The food here is AMAZING!!!! A great find and a great treat! Get the Chix Thai Salad (not the name exactly), it is wonderful!!!!!

    Meghan Thomas
    Reply
  • February 1, 2010

    I am trying to send my husband on a scanvanger hunt for Valentine’s from afar, ha! I want to send him to a really great Thai restaurant…would they take a call in and have it ready if I did that? Thanks!

    Beth Ann
    Reply
  • September 20, 2009

    Does anyone know if they are open this holiday week?

    Jenn
    Reply
  • September 14, 2009

    New SomChai Hours started TODAY!

    Open Tue,Wed and Fri,Sat

    Lunch 11:30 -2:30
    Dinner 5:00- 9:00
    The last order is 8:30pm

    Reply
  • September 13, 2009

    If you go to the road Chuo Park (also know as BC street) (you can get there from 330 or by turning down one of the side streets on gate 2), then as you’re walking down the street you should see a side street with the Sideways bar and som chai is diagonally across from the bar. It’s a small restaurant.

    ash
    Reply
  • September 12, 2009

    where is this place ?

    kay
    Reply
  • September 10, 2009

    As a newbie to Okinawa and a Thai food enthusiast, I was very excited to hear about the needle in the haystack known as Som Chai. After reading this post I was prepared for a very authentic Thai feast. I am sad to say that I was disappointed. True, the food was tasty and the staff very welcoming, but authentic Thai this was not. Being Thai myself, my standards for authentic Thai may be a bit steeper than most, but I really was expecting something… more! My husband and I ordered the Kwit Theo Nam (Thai noodle soup), Kapao Kao (Basil Fried Rice, very spicy), Lat Na (Noodles with mixed veggies) and Cha Yen (Thai iced tea). The tea, which is usually very sweet and creamy was a bitter. The fried rice was very spicy, but had little flavor and both the soup and noodles tasted more Japanese than Thai. Yes, I realize we’re in Japan, but when I hear Thai, I expect Thai. Not sure if we’ll go back to try anything else, maybe the curry is better! Definitely looking forward to trying all the rest!

    Malena
    Reply
  • June 2, 2009

    Oh, fabulous! Thanks Kandy!!!

    Rachel
    Reply
  • June 1, 2009

    They do! I have a take-out menu from them. You can call ahead and pick it up too. 🙂

    Kandy
    Reply
  • June 1, 2009

    does anyone know if they do take out?

    Rachel
    Reply
  • January 29, 2009

    Best thai food I’ve ever had. I’m going to Thailand in a month and I gotta say, I have a feeling I’m going to miss this place while I’m away!

    Sk
    Reply
  • January 16, 2009

    Just got back from Somchai for lunch. I must say, after reading all these reviews, I personally found out that the hype was true! Great food, great customer service, great atmosphere, it was all great! The only problem I had was that they take cash only and it must be Yen. Also, to my suprise, I found out the cook isn’t Thai…but grew up in thailand. Not a problem! He still cooked a mean Phad Thai!!! This place is definitely my new favorite restuarant in Okinawa, can’t wait to try out the rest of the Menu 🙂

    Tony
    Reply
  • January 13, 2009

    Excellent Restaurant, and excellent, friendly owners. The owner Rich and Miko have been students at my martial arts studio for a year, and they are great people. I always make sure to ask him to cater our events, and matter of fact we had our studio’s end of the year party there at Som Chai. Thanks Rich.

    Reply
  • November 13, 2008

    Sounds GREAT! Looks like I will have a new place to try out tomarrow w/ my lunch partner! (my toddler =)

    Reply
  • October 17, 2008

    The reason the owner prefers military members not wear their uniforms is to stay out of the island politics. Nothing personal 🙂 I was initially offended, but once I learned the reason behind it I am cool.

    Jasmine
    Reply
  • October 16, 2008

    My mother-in-law is visiting and I took her there yesterday. The food was GREAT and probably the best Thai I’ve had on the island. However, there were signs posted in the restaurant asking military members to not come in wearing there uniforms out of respect for other customers. I was actually a little offended by these signs and wonder how they think they aren’t disrespecting the military members or spouses of them that come there. I’ve heard nothing but good things about this restaurant and I’m surprised that no one else seems to be offended by the lack of respect for military families.

    Jill
    Reply
  • August 16, 2008

    In a place as foreign as Okinawa, it’s nice to find a place that makes me feels at home. It is literally my favorite restaurant in the world, but it is nice to be greeted by name and asked how my husband and son are. I like that Richard can adjust spice level or add more veggies for a little extra money. the portion sizes are appropriate-which is lovely.

    Laura
    Reply
  • July 15, 2008

    WAY TO GO BRO!!!!!!

    We’re so so so proud of you!

    Glad we got to see for ourselves, and not biased as your Big Sis, but the food is PHENOMENAL!!!! Pad Thai elsewhere will never be the same again. Sorry I missed the crazy Brownie Dessert last week

    Love you
    P.

    Pam Mapa
    Reply
  • June 16, 2008

    If you like Spice, this place is SPICY!! I’ve noticed that Thai Hot taste different then Mexican/Korean hot. I was sweating up a storm. And the Pumpkin Custard was AWESOME!!

    Snuff
    Reply
  • June 16, 2008

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this place! I don’t mind you sending people there, I like my favorite restaurants to be successful. If you haven’t tried the coconut black rice pudding (that might not be the exact name on the menu), it’s fabulous!

    Keri
    Reply
  • June 16, 2008

    This is one of our favorite places. The food is really good and it is such a cozy place.

    rene
    Reply
  • June 15, 2008

    Man, does the menu look good!! This place looks a bit like my favorite place I had dinner while In Singapore last summer. A little tiny place with the most amazing flavors I had on that trip to Singapore and Hong Kong. I think the hubby and I will have to go find this place and try it out! Thanks for the recomendation Kelly!!

    Reply