My favorite thing about the menu at Pattaya Thai is that there’s almost always something new to try. Chef Russell Clayton keeps his finger on the pulse of Southeast Asian street food, Thai or otherwise. I first discovered hat yai (Southern Thai-style fried chicken) during my one and only 2020 vacation to Portland and immediately fell in love with the dish’s heady aroma of coriander and fried shallot.
I imagined it would take years for hat yai to filter its way across the country down into our sleepy food scene, so imagine my delight to find it offered at my go-to takeout spot. I was also pleasantly surprised to note how well it survives the to-go treatment without losing the integrity of its golden-brown crispiness. Served with sticky rice and two sauces, I found myself dipping pinches of rice in the sweet chili sauce in between bites of succulent chicken dipped in the garlic chili lime sauce. Talk about finger-lickin good!
Gai Tawd Hat Yai Southern Thai Fried Chicken ($10)
Pattaya Thai | Riverside
1526 King Street
Jacksonville, FL 32250
Closed Sun-Mon; 4-9pm Tues-Thurs; 4-10pm Fri-Sat
This article originally appeared in Void Magazine’s February 2021 issue as an entry in the feature “The Best Thing I’ve Ever Eaten (Recently).”