Pad Kee Mao, aka Drunken Noodles
The stovetops appear to be buckets coated in tar, and that gives this lady serious street cred.
I ordered as everyone directed: Crab omelet & pad kee mao. When I saw that the omelet was being deep fried in oil, turned over again and again until every centimeter was thoroughly soaked in oil, resembling a giant chimichanga, I vowed to myself that I would only eat a couple bites since this was likely the caloric equivalent of eating a dozen donuts.
And then I ate most of it anyway. The deep fried crab omelet burrito came out golden and crispy, looking not unlike a giant piece of battered cod if you didn’t know what you ordered. Just what I need before eating another pile of noodles sautéed in oil. I say that like it’s a bad thing, but I did need to sport a bikini by the end of the week, and I was fully prepared to get questions asking how far along I was in my pregnancy, to which I would respond “42 plates of fried noodles & a fried crab burrito, that’s how far.” I actually did look like I was 6 months pregnant in the hotel elevator mirror after this meal.
Not sure if you noticed, but an entire clan of crabs resides within the golden fried egg batter. This is where the hefty price tag – a whopping 800 baht (22 euros) comes in. In a place where a whole dish can run you upwards of 1 euro, that is no small price. But lucky for me, I live in Paris, and 22 euros is a STEAL, so yes, I will eat a family of crabs.
Let’s gaze lovingly at the pad kee mao.
I know it’s hard to tell because the portion is small, but this shrimp is the size of my fist. Ten points for mutant colossal prawns.
Was it the best pad kee mao of my life? To be honest, no. Since pad kee mao is my favorite Thai dish, and all the world was saying that this was the best in Bangkok, my expectations were sky high. I thought I was going to have the best meal of my life – I mean death row stuff. As such, when it lacked the depth of flavor – the chili & basil & garlic & spicy heat I had been salivating for, my life felt shattered. For a good 30 seconds to two minutes. It was hard. Thank you for your sympathy.
Maybe she anglofied it for me, thinking I couldn’t handle the heat. Maybe she was having an off day. Maybe I’ve already found the world’s definitive best pad kee mao, and it’s in Dallas, TX. (Doubt it). But this one was a mere shadow of the flavor explosion of pad kee mao at my favorite Thai spot in Dallas, and I don’t know how to reconcile such a difference.
In all honesty, this was probably the biggest disappointment of my trip to Thailand (WHY IS LIFE SO HARD??), which is more of an indication of how awesome Thailand is than anything else. If in two and a half weeks traveling across a foreign country, the worst thing that happened is you were underwhelmed by a noodle dish, then things are going pree-ty well. That’s why I’m planning to move to Thailand.
And then I’ll go back and get the pad kee mao at Raan Jay Fai again, just to be sure, and I’ll ask for Thai-level spicy. Until then, I’m still on the hunt for the world’s best pad kee mao, while simultaneously on the hunt for authentic Thai food in Paris to quench the cravings. Suggestions welcome.
Raan Jay Fai
327 Maha Chai Road, Old City