It’s a tale of two noodle stands.
Actually, long ago, Rungrueang (Sukhumvit 26) used to be one stand. The Chinese-Thai proprietor served up bowls of steaming egg or rice “tom yum” noodles accompanied by a spicy, tom yum-style broth, slivers of fish “meatball” and plenty of seasoned, minced pork (when the noodles were ordered hang, or dry, with tom yum seasonings, they were simply called “yum”). Customers flocked by the hundreds every day. The noodle stand became known as a popular lunch spot for work-rumpled desk jockeys and high-haired housewives in the Sukhumvit area.
Then, as is known to happen, the original proprietor died. His two sons took over the noodle stand, which expanded. And, as is known to happen, they quarreled. The noodle stand split in two, co-existing side-by-side, observing an unspoken cold war. A wall eventually sprouted up between the two shops.
This detente is basically how things stand today. There are two Rungrueangs: one, the original, on the left side, a little smaller than its sibling and marked by the original red sign. Interestingly enough, the son in charge is said to have red shirt sympathies, so it is strangely fitting. Since it is known as the original, diners “in the know” appear to favor it, and it is consistently full.
On the right side, a little bigger than its brother, the “new” Rungrueang is announced by a yellow, handwritten sign (a recent addition). And guess what? Yes, this brother leans to the yellow side. The noodles are EXACTLY THE SAME (it is the father’s recipe, after all). And, maybe because of this, it is also consistently full.
So that is the story of Rungrueang. Which, it turns out, ends up being a political story. And a sort of metaphor for Thailand. Yes, all that, dumped into a pink plastic bowl, engulfed in a spicy lemongrass broth, and drizzled with chopped peanuts, the way a proper bowl of minced pork tom yum noodles should be served.
(Picture by @SpecialKRB)