Phuket’s sure thing


(Photo by @seenyc)

I used to be afraid of watching horror movies. I remember watching “Aliens” (not even the scary Ridley Scott original, but the James Cameron action flick) and having to sleep on the floor of my parents’ room for three nights straight (this was in 1986, and I was 14 years old). At slumber parties, I would cower in the kitchen at crucial parts of “The Exorcist” or “Halloween”. Now, I don’t know whether it’s my advanced age, or my own cray brain, but I love horror movies. I prefer the slasher and home invasion genres to supernatural or demonic possession, simply because they are usually scarier and nothing is worse than a scary movie that isn’t scary. As I write this, I am watching “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (the remake, because I can’t get the Tobe Hooper original). It helps me concentrate. That said, I won’t go anywhere near the zombie genre or French horror, because that is *still* straight-up terrifying, even in my deadened state.

There are foodie versions of horror movies too. They are the restaurants you go to, lured by a glowing review that grabs at you like the promise of an idyllic summer camp experience (“Friday the 13th”) or a whirlwind marriage to Taylor Swift’s ex-boyfriend (“Crimson Peak”), thereby forcing you into the dodgy situation in which you currently find yourself. There, like Morgan Freeman opening up that box in “Se7en”, you are confronted by the very worst of what you could expect to find in a restaurant — food that is contrary to everything that drew you there in the first place (the horror!!)

Under these circumstances, it would make sense to head for what is known and proven, culinary security. And in Thai cooking, there are few choices that are safer than the Southern Thai dish of kanom jeen (Mon-style fermented rice noodle) in Phuket. A bowl of this is the Thai equivalent of the slam dunk: rice noodles slathered with nam ya (fish curry, thickened with coconut milk, heady with grachai or wild ginger) and accompanied by a battery of fresh, blanched and pickled vegetables.


Kanom jeen nam ya at Kanom Jeen Ji Liew in Phuket

(Photo by @seenyc)

Kanom jeen is ubiquitous on the island, and the dish’s identity — like khao soi in Chiang Man — is inextricably linked with its home. Because of that, it seems churlish to single out one of the many fermented rice noodle places that dot the island, but I’m going to do it anyway. Kanom Jeen Ji Liew Phuket (Thep Kasattri, Thalang District, Phuket 83110, 081-256-9615) has the culinary chops to back up that impressive-looking sign:


(Photo by @jiminspace)

But perhaps the best reason to visit this place is not even in the name … or even in any photos, for that matter, because it was devoured immediately before anyone could take any photos of it. I’m writing of the fried chicken, crispy nuggets of drool-inducing savor hiding tender morsels of flesh that actually  melt in your mouth, for real. So OK, I love fried chicken anywhere (I just had some fabulous stuff in Malaysia, for instance), but this really was good, I’m not joking, I’m not playing you like Pazuzu in “The Exorcist”.


Pickled garlic, one of the many accompaniments to southern kanom jeen

(Photo by @jiminspace)

Bottom line: you can’t lose with kanom jeen when you are down south, especially in Phuket. Don’t take this advice lightly. The sure thing may be just what you need to get you through any crisis, especially at a time when every day brings threats of more horror stories just around the corner.

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