At these lowly prices, the sight of Pa Jazz alone warrants a visit. Under a corrugated steel roof extending from a wooden house, she stands impeccably coiffed, with makeup fit for a beauty queen competition, as she handles two pans simultaneously, with only a towel wrapped around her neck as concession to the tropical heat and the two gas burners. The one downside to this personal attention is that her petite portions can only reach the customers at the dozen folding tables surrounding her two at a time. On a Friday night, you might be in for a 40-minute wait. Relax, enjoy the look toong and get ready to be dazzled. The pretty auntie is using fresh but otherwise standard ingredients. What makes her cooking shine is perfect timing and sauces bursting with flavor. The mara pad khai is a soft, light, velvety egg and bitter cucumber dish under a generous splash of pepper. It’s simple yet subtle. Pair it with something with more bite, like the plaa chon pad khuen chai—the khuen chai is fresh and basking in an addictive (if a little salty) mix of fish sauce, soy sauce and tao jiew. Heat things up further with another great sauce, like the one on the plaa goong. The small, unremarkable shrimps sit atop a cabbage salad splashed with chili paste, onions, shallots, mints and chopped lemon grass. You’ll want to lick the plate. Once your tongue is warmed up, go for a red curry with boar or frogs. This is the point of no-return, a screaming explosion of fiery sensory overload. But even then you can still taste the bay leaves, the meat and the bitter taste bombs of eggplant. You just might need a clear soup like gaeng om neua, a herbal, peppery delight to regain your senses. People like Pa Jazz are Thai fine dining restaurants’ worst nightmare. How can glitzy restaurants justify their existence with aunties creating such masterpieces? Corkage B50.
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