Saab Issan Behind the Sindhorn Building
Now this was my kind of place. A couple of my colleagues originally took me to some safe Thai cafe nearby that was clean and halfway well-decorated. Seeing where the food there was going to be headed, I told them that I'd rather eat at a down-and-dirty outdoors place where it is very hectic and crowded with locals instead. A smile appeared on their faces, and we got up and left for this other place tucked away in some small alley behind the Sindhorn Building on Wireless Road. The name of the restaurant is Saab Issan (09-8950252), but unless you can read Thai (or have local Thai colleagues around like I did), you won't be able to tell which one it is as there is not an English word around (the menu is completely in Thai too). This was actually more of an open patch of asphault covered by a tarp rather than an actual building, but it was completely packed at lunchtime. And apparently, Saab Issan literally translates into "very, very spicy Northeastern Thai." With a name like that, I knew that we were in for a treat.
My colleagues ordered all sorts of things, including my favorite namtok and larb dishes. These were a little different from ones that I've had in the past, seeing that the namtok was a little fattier than usual, and the larb had slices of liver as well as clear pork skin in it. They still had the full kick of flavor that I have come to love about it though (and yes, the ground rice sprinkles on top). Other dishes that we got included a grilled fish (which was a bit lukewarm again and hence not necessarily one of my faves) as well as a vegetable soup, which like the bone soup that I got the other night, was darker in color compared to normally red tom yum (but it was still spicy).
My colleagues also made sure to order more kanohm jin noodles, plain as can be. This now makes sense to me, as it's basically just a form of carbs like rice that you pair with whatever you want, be it curry or what have you. In fact, they also got a papaya salad that was mixed with kanohm jin noodles for an interesting twist in texture. That salad was so blazingly hot due to some dry chili pepper flakes used too, thus providing further credibility behind the place's name. I also rather enjoyed the fact that they gave two hot sauces here, one being sweet but still rather spicy, and another that wasn't sweet at all but definitely spicy. Not all the dishes were as spicy as this, but it was a good find. My stomach is still burning a bit from the salad.