Bamee Road Trip

Tom yum noodles in Chumphon, Thailand

I recently learned that the famous egg noodle vendor featured in last year’s season of “Street Food” on Netflix has closed down, maybe permanently, due to a spinal injury suffered by one of the cooks. It is a shame, but the vendors had been attempting — several times — to retire for a while now. So, enjoy your retirement, guys. I hope your back is better now.

A bowl of egg noodles with crispy pork at Bamee 38, at its last location

Perhaps because bamee, or egg noodles, have been on my mind lately, I’ve been especially susceptible to suggestions that we stop at various famous bamee spots whenever we go on a road trip. Thailand has been pretty good at fighting COVID-19, but as with many other spots, it has not completely stamped it out yet, so I am still wary of getting on a plane. On recent trips to Chiang Mai and Phuket, we ended up traveling by car, which was tedious, yes, but also afforded plenty of opportunities to get our bamee on.

The first spot we tried was in Kamphang Phet on the way back to Bangkok from up North, called Cha Kang Rao Noodle (Ratchadamnern 1, 055-712-446). Here, egg noodles flavored with tom yum (spicy lemongrass) seasonings are the name of the game, and luckily for me, they are my personal favorite when it comes to bamee. The noodles are house-made, silky-smooth and substantially hefty, reminiscent of Japanese noodles. They float in a spicy-salty-sweet broth peppered with chili flakes, minced pork and plenty of chiffonaded coriander leaves which normally annoys me (those coriander leaves get gray and lifeless so quickly in hot broth) but added a great aroma to the dish.

A standard bowl of bamee in soup At Cha Kang Rao Noodle

As for me personally, well, it’s too damn hot. And when it gets too damn hot, I order my noodles broth-free, hang, or dry. Those broth-free noodles don’t come flavor-free, however. There’s plenty of pork, both barbecued and stewed, accompanied by the julienned green beans you see all over bowls in Sukhothai and a fresh glistening wedge of lime, famous in this area.

“Dry” bamee in Kamphang Phet

You have your choice of the egg noodles and/or the hand-tucked dumplings, plus thin (sen lek) or fat (sen yai) noodles, but if you go to the trouble of gettng here, why wouldn’t you have the homemade egg noodles, right? Each bowl is available at the kingly sum of 30 baht.

That’s not to say the South doesn’t boast great tom yum noodles either. I have to say, though, the regional differences really show. Whereas the North is more mannered, with silky lovely noodles and a shower of blanched greens, the South seems to be fully out there, shaking its moneymaker for all to see.

What I mean when I say that is, Tha Pi Sut Noodle in Wang Mai (283/1 Moo 9, Petchkasem Rd., Wang Mai, Chumphon, 080-873-2874) is Patti LaBelle belting “Stir It Up” at the top of her lungs right in your face.

A dry bowl of egg noodles with pork tendon and boiled egg

There’s a dizzying range of choice here, starting with the protein: crunchy pork tendon, seafood (shrimp and squid), “mixed” seafood (shrimp, squid and fish), minced pork with meatballs, or “mixed” (everything). The broth can be tom yum or clear (the choice here is obvious), as well as how much broth: dry, with broth, or nam kluk klick, which means half-full. There is a reason why half-full is an option and it is because a full bowl of this broth is simply Too Much: so much umami, sweetness and spice battling it out that it feels like Kill Bill in your mouth. Brothy noodles lovers should go with nam kluk klick; the ridiculous sounds that one must make while ordering it are worth the fleeting embarrassment.


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4 responses to “Bamee Road Trip

  1. Elmhurst is near Jackson Heights and Woodside. I think we went to SriPraPhai together at the turn of the century back when you lived here, Chow. They expanded years ago and have a big back yard. Their dessert menu is enormous! I haven’t been back recently, but I’ve taken many people there over the last two decades.

    Chow’s parents brought me to Ayada Thai a few years ago, and I’ve been back a couple of times with friends. I just looked up Thai restaurants in that area on Google Maps and there’re so many more places now! Would be so fun to try a bunch of different spots each week to compare…

  2. TC

    Always enjoy reading your posts, thank you. Any Elmhurst, New York City, Thai restaurant recommends? Hope I can fly to Thailand by next January!

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