How good would a bowl of bamee, the ubiquitous and simple Chinese-style egg noodles, have to be in order to justify a wait of ten, twenty, or even thirty minutes? For many residents of Bangkok, they would have to be as good as Uncle’s.
While practically everybody knows about this noodle shop, I only learned about it by reading Chawadee Nualkhair’s “Bangkok’s Top 50 Street Food Stalls,” a handy and well-written English language guide for anyone who is serious about eating good Thai street food.
You can find Uncle’s noodles (the stand also goes by the name “slow noodles” because of the wait) at the corner of Ekamai and Ekamai Soi 19. His cart is built on the back of a small pickup truck, a nifty arrangement that reminds me of the food trucks of Los Angeles, except with no Korean tacos. You have to place your order by writing on a pad – in Thai, of course. Best to have a friend come with you, write out your order in advance, or as Khun Chawadee suggests, if you are brave you can just copy the previous customer’s order!
The menu is quite simple: bamee (egg noodles) served either in soup or dry, with barbecue pork (“red pork”) and pork wontons. The ingredients are on display: your guarantee of freshness. Say, what are those black things in the display case? Nothing like a few phallic good luck charms to ensure good business. It seems that they’ve worked!
All of the seating is on the sidewalk, either on the Ekamai side or heading down the side soi. Orders to go are welcome, too. I’ll say that the location is a bit of a curse from an enjoyment perspective. There are a lot of big trucks traveling on Ekamai at night and the smoke and fumes take away from the experience. The stand doesn’t open up until after 8:00 each night, so at least the gridlock of cars isn’t there anymore. That might be worse.
Every noodle shop in Thailand – and I do mean every – offers customers condiments to dress their own noodles. Dried chili flakes, sugar, vinegar with chilies, and fish sauce (sometimes with chopped chilies). This allows each customer to perfect the seasoning.
Here’s my bowl of bamee with barbecued pork, chopped pork, fried pork fat, and a special ingredient: soft boiled egg. Pork-a-palooza! If you order the red pork at a rice and red pork stand, boiled egg is a standard condiment. However, at a noodle stand, the soft boiled egg is an unusual addition.
The question is, what makes this particular bamee so special? As I mentioned, people will wait up to thirty minutes to eat it and, honestly, at a certain level I think that bamee is bamee is bamee. But, there are a few things that separate good from mediocre bamee: Noodles are fresh, tender, and flavorful. Broth has a rich flavor. Ingredients are of high quality and are fresh. Uncle’s noodles has all of these qualities. The addition of crispy fried pork fat adds a little extra texture that is very flavorful, and the boiled egg is a nice addition, too.
We also ordered a bowl of wonton soup, which featured beautiful fresh wontons with a tasty interior along with some more of the red pork and chopped pork. Something that set the wontons apart is that the wrappers were especially delicate and thin, not chewy at all.
All in all, Uncle’s noodles are well worth searching out, although the location makes for a less than ideal dining experience.