Come to Thailand


Jay Fai’s famous tom yum soup, cooling on the countertop

Let me tell you what bothers me the most about Adam Sandler’s movies. No, it’s not the ingrained misogyny. It’s not the fact that this dude is transparently enjoying a holiday while pretending to “work” at the same time, all on someone else’s dime. Hey, it’s not even Rob Schneider. It’s the music.

I believe “Adam Sandler” is a musical fraud. He is not the real-life Adam Sandler. The guy in the “Wedding Singer” who claims to have been “listening to the Cure a lot lately”? I don’t believe him — unless it’s “Sunday I’m in Love” played over and over again 1,000 times a day, because real-life Adam Sandler seems exactly that cheesy and annoying. That guy, who loves Van Halen and Billy Idol, but not, like, White Lion or Ratt like people who actually lived during the 1980s, because his taste is so superior to everyone else’s, even when everyone’s taste at the time was notoriously terrible. Real-life Adam Sandler looks exactly like that guy in junior high school who would make fun of you in your Damned t-shirt, confuse the Clash with the Cult, and question your sexuality for listening to Depeche Mode. He would have worn a mullet and listened to Bad Company and had an AC/DC poster in his bedroom, just like everyone else. Only after the fact, in the safety of his college dorm room, can he begin wearing white K-Swiss sneakers with little ankle socks and boxer shorts and proclaim his affinity for the Smiths. All of a sudden he’s deep and cool, and not the trash-talking metalhead who tormented you on the bus ride home because “SKID ROW RULES!” You know who I’m talking about. The guy on the side of strength, until he didn’t have to be. The guy who never had to pay his dues. That guy is Adam Sandler.

I feel the same skepticism when I see something like Netflix’s “Stranger Things”. Don’t get me wrong, because I loved “Stranger Things” and thought almost every single detail, from Barb’s glasses to Steve’s BMW, was great. But give me a break with the older brother’s music. So he’s so cool that he indoctrinates his brother with the wonders of the Clash and the glories of their second-most-overplayed song, eventually turning it into a major musical focal point of the story? Is everyone in this po-dunk town really that cool? Does everyone remember the 1980s differently from me? Where is the Def Leppard? Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam? TAYLOR DAYNE? Because if I had to suffer through “Love Will Lead You Back” 800,000 times every day, someone else must have, too. Or are we just denying this ever happened to us? Sweeping this under the rug? Who, in 1985, would have said that people would remember Echo & the Funnymen 30 years later, that nostalgia would make it cool to play a snorefest like “Nocturnal Me” on a television show and enshrine it as a classic?

“Best Restaurants” lists are also attempts to pick out classics, but for food and in real time. That makes it doubly hard. So it didn’t surprise me when the Michelin Guide awarded two Singapore hawker stalls their very own stars, or that there is even a Singapore Bib Gourmand Guide at all, because $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. Also, you know, street food is currently having a “moment”, I hear. Did you guys know that? That’s what all the kids are saying these days. Street food is “in” right now. What’s that? You think it smells like a ploy, like pandering to millennials, like Hillary Clinton claiming to carry hot sauce in her purse at all times a la Beyonce? Well, I say, how cynical of you! Oh, and did I mention $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$?

Why, I’m hearing through the grapevine that Michelin might even come to Thailand! E-GAD. Finally, an outsider can validate/nullify our own food choices. How have we ever eaten before now? And what should we do until then? THE SUSPENSE IS UNBEARABLE (she says, hitting herself in the head with a broken chopstick slathered in artisanal Sriracha sauce). What do you think should be considered for a star? What do I think? Oh, I am all a-flutter, like Tom Brady in a restaurant when his chef has the day off.

Honestly, I can only think of two (street food) places I would think about. One of them is this:


Bamee Sawang, biotches

because, even though I can’t eat them anymore, the egg noodles here are probably the best anywhere in the country. But maybe Chinese-style noodles are covered? Maybe we should be thinking of a tom yum noodle place, even though most tom yum broth is too sweet and adulterated with condensed milk? (she says, brandishing her AARP card)

The second one is my favorite, even though we have a complicated relationship, she and I. Some days she likes me and some days she doesn’t. That uncertainty makes my trips to her shophouse very exciting.


Jay Fai at work

It’s not easy to stir-fry noodles. It’s not easy to be a “made-to-order” (aharn tham sung) cook. It’s often thankless and always draining. But Jay Fai (who is either 70 or 77, depending on what day you ask her) has managed to stay one of the best in the country — if not THE best — through sheer will, ego and a dedication to top quality ingredients that is reflected in her sky-high prices. If you come here, you must pay obeisance, if not outright acknowledge that she is the best, because she is absolutely willing to dismiss your sorry ass. After all, she used to serve abalone gravy noodles to then-Prime Minister Thaksin at 10,000 baht a plate. What is she doing wasting time with us jokers?


So, who would you propose? Quite frankly, I’ll be happy with any Thai place that ends up in the guide, because any acknowledgement of great Thai food is a plus in my book. I’m totally serious. Even if it ends up being something like S&P, I will be behind it 100 percent. Now, I am the bully on the bus telling you what to like. Because Thai food rules.


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11 responses to “Come to Thailand

  1. Paul

    There’s not much I’ve banned in our house, except bad rap music and anything Adam Sandler. Watching him is worse than being water boarded.

  2. John b hernandez

    I am in Thailand as we speak !! Currently I am in Bangkok . My wife and I have been in country since August 4th and plan to be here until Sept. 8. We stayed in Chiang Mai for two weeks and enjoyed every minute! My favorite Thai dish is pod see eu . The best I found was in Chiang Mai at Da Da Kafe on Ratchamanka Rd. The serving is huge and tasty ! Tell the owner “jb” sent you!!

  3. “Street food is ‘in’ right now.” Hahahahaha!
    Waking up to notices of your latest blog posts are the best ways to wake up!

  4. Where do I find these street food venues. I’m in Thailand from October and I want to check out some (or all) of your feature places??

    • Oh yeah:
      1. Bamee Sawang – Rama IV road, across from Hong Kong Noodle Shop and Hualumpong Station (02-236-1772) open after 5
      2. Jay Fai – 327 Mahachai Road next to Thipsamai (02-223-9384) open after 5

  5. Bad Company and AC/DC are STILL better than every other band named in this piece. Also, we need to find less neurotic parts for Winona Rider…..despite Stranger Things.

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