If I have plans when my friend Yvonne invites me over for a home cooked Malaysian lunch, I cancel them. Lunch at Yvonne’s house surpasses anything else I could be eating. Similarly if she calls and asks me if I want to join her for dinner at one of her favourite Thai places, I join her.
She sorts out reservations, essential at this tiny restaurant and warns me that I will come out of there smelling like I’ve been working in a kitchen. The 5 of us sit down and don’t even feign trying to order, leaving it all to her.
“You can eat spicy?” she asks, looking at us sternly.
“Because this is really spicy. Even for me.” She adds.
“Because you never know how hot the chilli will be so sometimes it’s really hot!”
“Spicy, yes got it.”
Even as I say it I don’t believe it. There is no spicy in Barcelona, customs must go through all imports and confiscate the spicy peppers.
The food starts coming out: a duck red curry with lychees, Som Tam (papaya salad), chicken panang curry, and spicy stir friend noodles with basil. The dishes vary from mild (the duck curry) to hot enough to have me reaching for a napkin for my suddenly runny nose (the noodles). The duck for the curry has been roasted separately resulting in a crispy skin and somewhat rendered fat covering tender meat. The vegetables vary in the curries and I don’t come across carrots (a cheap ingredient to add volume).
The restaurant fills up quickly with people and the smells Yvonne promised us. “I used to go to Bangkok Cafe for my Thai and then the food seemed to change. That’s when I found out that the chef from there had moved to this restaurant.”
It takes determination to attract a waiter and even when we manage to summon him, he distractedly stares over our heads as we order so that we aren’t entirely sure whether he has registered what we are saying. He has. It all arrives in a timely fashion.
Being full is no deterrent to me ordering dessert. Sticky rice with mango perfectly done, salty sticky rice with super sweet mango.
A few weeks later, I take my friend Rob there. “It’s so good!” I gush. “Trust Yvonne to find the best places.”
We order the menu del dia (€12) and sit down to a lacklustre meal featuring a lot of deep-fried food. A few tables around us are eating a la carte. They obviously know that Lam is not the place to partake in this local custom for a cheap lunch.
“Sorry – next time we will order a la carte and I will order exactly what Yvonne chose. I still have the receipt.” I say sheepishly.
Lam Thai Street Food
Gan Via De Les Corts Catalanes 518