Tipped off by กินรอบกรุง 2 (Kin Rob Krung 2), a Thai-language food guide based on a television programme, I was recently pointed in the direct of Phat Thai Mae Am, a shophouse restaurant specialising in just two dishes: phat Thai and kuaytiaw khua kai.
It's exactly the kind of cozy, friendly, informal, tidy, longstanding, florescent-lit Thai restaurant I love the most:
And to top it off, Mae Am does what is probably one of the better dishes of phat Thai that I've encountered in Bangkok.
The noodles here are seasoned ahead of time with tamarind paste, palm sugar and fish sauce, giving them a pink colour; it's the old-school way of making phat Thai, I'm told. They're then fried to order in a small wok, one or two dishes at at a time, with no additional seasoning. This contrasts with most places, which tend to season the dish in the wok, sometimes doing several orders in one go.
Mae Am adds lots of crunchy salted radish, good-quality dried shrimp, fresh shrimp, and if you like, squid. She fries the egg on the side, letting the mixture ignite briefly over the charcoal fire before dishing it up:
The result feels almost delicate, and lacks the oily gloopiness of lesser versions of phat Thai - a result of that clever pre-seasoning, I suspect. As is the norm, the dish is served with a small pile of ground peanuts and the usual sides of Chinese chive, bean sprouts, banana flower, lime and pennywort.
Mae Am's kuaytiaw khua kai, wide rice noodles fried with chicken and egg, is also quite good:
It's slightly smokey - again, from that charcoal flame - and well-seasoned. My only gripe with this (and the phat Thai) would be that, unlike the version at Nay Hong, Mae Am uses vegetable oil, not lard, as her fat of choice.
Saturated fat aside, these are two solid reasons to take the MRT to Khlong Toei come mealtime.
Phat Tha Mae Am Th Rama IV, Bangkok 11am-10pm Mon-Fri, 2-10pm Sat & Sun
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