Tom Leng Zap, or Sour Pork Spine Soup (ต้มแซ่บเล้ง)

Tom Leng Zap (ต้มแซ่บเล้ง), or Spicy and Sour Spine Soup

at Jodd Fairs, Bangkok, Thailand

This spicy and sour pork spine soup, called tom leng zap in Thai, developed out of practicality. In the past, high-quality pork meat would be served as a main dish, and the leftover meat and bones would be used to make a soup broth. Today, this "spine soup" has become a dish of its own and is gaining in popularity in the Thai street food scene.

a bowl of spicy tom leng zap (ต้มแซ่บเล้ง) soup in Bangkok, Thailand
a bowl of spicy tom leng zap (ต้มแซ่บเล้ง) soup in Bangkok, Thailand

Tom leng zap has evolved over time. In the past, the "leng", or pork spine, was very cheap to buy. People would use the spine and leftover meat to make a slow-cooked soup. In modern times, noodle shops in Thailand began putting the pork spine in with their noodles. Eventually it smelled and tasted so good that the soup became the main feature of the dish. What was once a peasant food has gained a new life in the Thai street food scene, and tom leng zap has become a real art of a street food dish.

Some favorite Thai pork dishes

There are health benefits to tom leng zap too! The dish is full of lots of herbs and veggies, including cilantro and green chilis, which are full of vitamin C. The bones also provide a lot of healthy collagen.

Of course, most people don't seek out their dinner due to its health benefits, but for its taste, and tom leng zap definitely delivers on that front as well. The broth is made from lime, pepper, green chili, garlic, cilantro root, and fish sauce.

The sour broth can take a moment to get used to if you are not expecting it, but the spicy and sour flavors complement each other so well! The meat has been stewed for a very long time, making it very soft. It literally melts in your mouth with each bite. The broth is full of rich and meaty umami flavors as well, and has a fatty, rich taste. That fattiness is cut through by the sour broth. It's a complex dish, and definitely leaves you wanting more.

pork spine soup (ต้มแซ่บเล้ง) with chili, garlic, lime, and cilantro broth
pork spine soup (ต้มแซ่บเล้ง) with chili, garlic, lime, and cilantro broth

A bowl of tom leng zap usually comes with a disposable plastic glove. It is difficult to get all of the meat off of the bone, and the best way to get your money's worth from this dish is by picking the extra meat off of the spine with your hand, or picking it up and eating directly from the bone.

It can be messy, so this isn't a great dish to share on a date! Although, on the other hand, this dish is sure to be a fun, memorable experience. It's also going to be delicious!

Eating from the bone is kind of like eating ribs. There's just no graceful way to do it. You've just got to enjoy the chaos of a bowl of tom leng zap. And, hey! At least they gave us gloves.


💲 - the price varies by the size of the bowl of soup you want. In general, prices should range from 60-150 THB (about $2-5 USD).

Location and Hours

You can find Tom Leng Zap at one of the amazing food stalls at Jodd Fairs Market, a trendy and upscale night market in Bangkok's Phra Ram IX area. It is easily accessibly via MRT Phra Ram IX station. Just take exit 2 in the station and walk through Central Rama IX shopping mall to the exit on the 1st floor. It is clearly marked by signs throughout the MRT station and the shopping mall.

food stalls, street food, and vendors at Jodd Fairs Market in Bangkok, Thailand
there are tons of great places to eat at Jodd Fairs in Bangkok, Thailand

More snacks to try at JODD Fairs

JODD Fairs


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