I like to think that I’m generally an open person, and generous too. Even if, sometimes, I’m not.
I don’t want to be That Girl. That Girl doesn’t share anything: her history, her experiences, her restaurant recommendations, or, worst of all, the stuff on her plate. But it happens sometimes. A flick, a wrong turn, and That Girl emerges — most often when I am in a taxi.
I am, how do you say, absolute crap at my native language (it’s Thai). My accent could be dipped in cornmeal, deep-fried and served with a tub of barbecue sauce, it is so American. Which is why taxi drivers invariably ask me, “Where do you come from?”, “Are you Japanese/Chinese/Filipino/Malaysian?” or, even worse, “Why is your Thai so bad?” Sometimes I tell them the long and boring story of how my Thai came to be so bad. But there are times when I am so bored by my story, and myself, that I can’t bring myself to do it. I don’t want to share.
FADE IN. USUAL TAXI DRIVER CONVERSATION.
Me: Please take me to (someplace with food).
Taxi driver: What? Oh, you mean (someplace with food, with slightly different inflection). Your Thai is so bad! You must be from (name Asian country other than Thailand, like the Philippines).
Me: Uh, yeah. I am from the Philippines. That’s why my Thai is so bad.
Taxi driver: Oh! That’s cool! Manny Pacquiao! Manny Pacquiao!
Me: I’m sorry. I don’t speak Tagalog.
Taxi driver: No! (Mimes boxing moves). Manny Pacquiao? (Slowly realizes no Filipino would not know who Manny Pacquiao is, and that I am a liar).
Me: Oh, sorry.
(Drive continues in silence).
So there are times when I am lazy. But other times, I am just plain selfish. That is the case with Uncle John (Suan Plu Soi 8, 081-373-3865), which I have been going to steadily for months, obsessing over, and generally making a fool of myself at, with nary a peep about it ever. It’s not groundbreaking, food-wise: competent renditions of Western luxury hotel restaurant staples, like grilled seabass, or hoary old standbys like tournedos Rossini, or pub faves like fish and chips, with the occasional foie gras dish thrown in for good measure. But I think it’s brilliant all the same — the Thai street food concept, inverted; a Western aharn tham sung (made-to-order) stall, featuring your typical hotel fare at about half the price!
Like all great ideas, I wish I had thought of it myself. The mise-en-place is pre-prepared; all cooking is done in front (except for desserts, which are plated in back); and there is liberal use of the squeeze bottle for sauces, recalling early ’90s-era Emeril Lagasse. Kudos to Chef Sanjorn (who works as a chef at a luxury hotel nearby by day, and at this stall by night, every night). So even if there is the occasional misfire (overcooked, tough venison), and even though the menu is far more unwieldy than he can get away with (do we really need the big Thai menu or the Indian selections? The wait is long enough as it is), these feel like mean old quibbles to me, things the Most Miserable Person in the World would complain about.
I am not the Most Miserable Person in the World. I am just That Girl.