Beneath the dusty green awning the matriarch is already pounding chilli, garlic, cherry tomatoes, dried shrimp and herbs in a giant mortar and pestle, assembling som tam from matchsticks of green papaya. I notice the grill; four vats of glowing charcoal capped with racks of quartered and butterflied chickens. With no air conditioning and a few fans, the scent of caramelising meat, garlic and sour herbs swirls in the air, causing involuntary release of saliva glands within a 20-metre radius.
We sit at one of the red aluminium tables. Each has a check-box paper menu written in Thai. Little effort is made to accommodate English-speaking foreigners in that wonderful, no-bullshit, business-to-run kind of way. Pointing would have done the trick, but luckily one of our party is Thai and able to communicate that yes, we really do want the regular version of the dishes, and no, it isn’t a problem if they’re spicy.