My friend Janet once said that the worst thing anyone could be to a Thai person is boring. People could be uncouth, or inconsiderate, or even rude, but if they are also amusing, their other sins could be overlooked with ease.
This maxim also applies to food. Once you think you’ve got a handle on all the dishes likely to appear on restaurant menus and street vendor carts, a smattering of new ones pops up. Vendors cannot bear the thought that you might be bored by something they are serving up. So they are always experimenting, adapting, making known quantities like khao gaeng (curry rice) undergo little tweaks, turning what was once mundane into something entirely new.
Foreign dishes provide ripe fodder for this kind of experimentation. Like spaghetti, slathered with green curry at a khao gaeng stall. Or Thai streetside “sushi”, stuffed with canned tuna salad and garnished with deep-fried tempura bits, slicks of wasabi mayonnaise and flying fish roe.
And kanom pang yad sai, a white flour bun that is served across Isaan and in any restaurant specializing in the Vietnamese-inspired dish kai kata (egg in a pan). It’s usually buttered thickly and stuffed with moo yaw (Vietnamese-style pork loaf) and slices of gun chieng (Chinese-style sweet sausage), and meant to accompany the kai kata — perfect for dipping into a still-runny egg yolk dotted with Sriracha and maybe a little Maggi.
At Raan Ee Noi on Fueang Nakhon Road (085-125-4333), diagonally situated from Rachabopit Temple, the kanom pang yad sai comes still warm, stuffed with moo yaw and lashings of what looks — and tastes — suspiciously like sweet chili, a type of nam prik ong for babies. They are Thai-style chili dogs! Kanom pang yad sai are available alone (13 baht apiece) or in pairs (25 baht) and, if you are willing to wait, or take a seat at one of the four tables on the sidewalk in front (there are tables inside, but the fan doesn’t work), they will be yours in roughly 10 minutes’ time.
There is no kai kata to pull focus from these babies. And although it’s the guay jab yuan (Vietnamese-Thai-style, Chinese-inspired pork noodles — yes, that’s right) that takes pride of place on each table, filling the shophouse with the sweet smell of deep-fried shallots, it’s the kanom pang yad sai that I like most, and the least boring thing I can imagine today.