Food from Thailand: Pad Thai

by Dave from The Longest Way Home ~ June 30th, 2011. Updated on May 22nd, 2012. Published in: Travel blog » Food around the world » Thai food.
Close up of Pad Thai from Thailand

One of Thailand's national dishes, Pad Thai

Pad Thai, or Phat Thai is one of Thailand’s national dishes

Pad thai sounds good, many people rant about it, and it is one of Thailand’s national dishes, so I was excited to try it.

Not being a huge fan of Thai food, I really hoped this one would pull Thai food up in my personal rankings.

What is Pad Thai?

Stir fried rice noodles and egg, mixed with a combination of bean sprouts, shrimp, chicken, tofu. Pad Thai is then garnished with peanuts, coriander and lime juice. Though sometimes the garnishing is served on the side along with fish sauce and chili.

Which is better, street pad thai or restaurant pad thai?

If you follow my travels here, then you’ll know I normally eat where the locals eat. In this case I tried pad thai in a couple of street places. The result, was usually a very eggy, highly greasy bowl of noodles.

Sometimes not too bad, but nothing to set my taste buds on fire. Many people often have their favorite places that make the best of certain dishes. But, I don’t really want to travel across a city every time I want to try Pad Thai. So, I go with what’s nearby.

Moving up a step, I went to a middle-income restaurant, where my pad thai cost around $3. And the improvement was measurable.

Less grease, more shrimp was the first impression I got.

How good is pad thai?

It’s quite nice if made well. It’s one of the few Thai dishes that fills me quite well. When served with the garnishing on the side I find it a lot better. Mainly because I can flavor it to my liking. More lime, more coriander.

All in all, it’s a good dish, that I recommend, just don’t skimp on it to get the best results.

This is an additional article featuring everyday food from Thailand

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19 Great responses to Food from Thailand: Pad Thai

  1. Daniel N. says:

    Just for info:
    Pad Thai is actually not “really” a traditional Thai dish but something invented for the foreigners because it’s bland and easy to eat (not spicy).
    To really enjoy it, you have to eat it like the Thai do: Add spice and sprinkle sugar on it (no that’s not a joke). That’s why you always have some sugar that comes with the plate.

    Same goes for the noodle soup by the way: Spice, sour, soy sauce and sugar.

    • Ha ha. Well, so far I’m really not into Thai food. Not a big fan of soupy things. Pad Thai fills me up, and tastes fine. Had enough of that sugar on everything in The Philippines. What I would do for some tandoori and naan now! :)

  2. Big Bule says:

    It would be important to mention that Pad Thai is the national food of Thailand because some decades ago their prime minister wanted so.

    It was an act to create a national Thai food that would rival the Chinese noodles. The base recipe includes classic Thai ingredients (and from here variations spring out) but it NEVER includes pork = the signature of Chinese gastronomy.

  3. iamthewitch says:

    I just came back from Bangkok last month too! Surprisingly I didn’t even have a plate of Phad thai there! I’m more of a tomyam soup kind of person, and anything spicy! :)

  4. Anna's World says:

    I’ve heard so much about this. So glad to get your recommendation about where to get the best. Sometimes I guess you have to move up from “street food”!

  5. Jimmy says:

    Have to agree about it being a little greasy! There are some nice vegetarian options in Thailand. Hope you’ll highlight some :)

  6. i LOVE pad thai! hope you can find a good – non-greasy! – one!

    • Yep I found some alright. But it’s a little bit more expensive. A case of, you get what you pay for!

    • If you are in Thailand, the great one is “Sawasdee Hoi-tod” restaurant, you may found in any food center in the shopping mall. They serves a really great taste and non greasy Phad-tai. Also “Hoi-Tod”, one of the good alternative dish beside phad-tai.

  7. Kristina says:

    If you get a chance, try pad see ew next. It’s similar, in that it’s a stir fried noodle dish, but in some ways I like it better.
    It’s wide rice noodles, usually fresh ones, stir fried with a protien like chicken or pork, then they add Chinese broccoli and a sweet, thick soy sauce. The best part is that it gets a little charred in the wok which adds a smoky flavor. This is also a mild dish.
    If you like spicy, start trying the various curries.

    • Okay, I just wrote that one down. Running around like crazy here at the moment. Hopefully I’ll get to sit down and try Pad see ew this weekend. Though the protein like chicken sounds a little like this reconstituted stuff! I’ve to find much solid meat here, which I think is my main issue with Thail food. Oh, and I don’t like soup as a meal too :)

    • Kristina says:

      No, not “protein-like” chicken, but rather “protein, like chicken or pork.” What a difference a comma makes.

      • Opps, sorry, should have guessed too. Was up late last night! I also saw something that was something possibly resembling chicken on a street stall earlier. So the idea of protein that might be chicken like was placing on my mind!

  8. JH says:

    Yummy! Delicious!

    This is one of my favourite Thai dishes and I had quite a handful of them when I was recently there! Making me hungry! :)