Just in time to bust your New Year’s resolutions of eating less, healthier or nothing at all I want to write a little ode to one of my favorite dishes ever: pad thai.
You don’t even need to know me well to know that my preferred food group is pasta. I make no secret out of this love and it is a love that started early in life. According to family legend (as in my Dad) I was conceived in Venice and he likes to use that as an excuse reason why I have become a pastaholic.
While I like his story the real one is a different one. In our home pasta was never a dinner dish, after all a Butterbrot would do. That was until my French aunt babysat me once when I was little and my parents went on a trip. I was upset about them not being there and a bowl of noodles and cream was her way of calming me down at night. That stuck with me and to this day I eat pasta when I need comfort, when I’m sad or scared or in need of a reward. As you can tell I use the term pasta loosely and don’t discriminate against noodles, rice noodles, store bought or dried versions. I do not own one but two pasta makers that were given to me by friends and there are a few unfortunate pictures of me posing with pasta too. I very rarely eat pasta in restaurants unless it is something super special, because I usually find my own to be better. The one exception to this is pad thai.
I was ridiculously excited to go to Thailand properly for the first time ever in April and to eat ALL the pad thai they had. And I really did. People started to get annoyed with me after a while because I didn’t post much else than pictures of pad thai. Once I got questioned if there was actually nothing else to in eat in Thailand. Which made me sad for the other awesome Thai food, though personally I think I could only eat pad thai for the rest of my life and die happy. But to be fair there are much more picturesque things than pad thai and so I started to mix it up a little and added a couple of beach shots here and there as well.
Your resolutions by the way are in no danger by reading this, because I don’t recommend eating pad thai outside of Thailand; for me that has only ever led to disappointment. If you do live in Thailand, well, the Thai New Year’s is not for another few months so you can save your resolutions till then and eat away!
The problem with pad thai is that you find the best ones at little sidewalk stalls that don’t have a name or a Thai name which leads to the same result – it’s hard to tell Western people where to go to find it. Descriptions will usually be something like ‘that little corner cafe in Chiang Mai with the friendly mango man’. There are only two exceptions, not unknown to Tripadvisor & Co, but I can still wholeheartedly recommend them:
1. Thip Samai has allegedly THE best pad thai in all of Thailand. While I don’t know if that is true and I still have a few to go to maybe proof them wrong, the pad thai there is really awesome. So while it has become a bit of a branded t-shirt empire, go if you are in Bangkok.
2. The other place is again nameless, at least for me, but easy to find as it is a very prominent food stall at the Chatuchak weekend market. They are located right at one of the main food roads and the prawns are so big they are hard to miss. I went there with my good friend Katia, who is one of the few people as food crazy as me when it comes to traveling. We found the place while strolling the market and even though it was only 11am we needed one look at each other before we sat down, ordered two beers, and the most awesome plate of king prawn pad thai.
As I am planning to go back to Thailand soon I would love to continue my search for the best of the best. So if you have any recommendations please send them my way. If it is a corner stall with no name, I would appreciate if you can draw me a map or send a picture!*
*The first picture shows the best pad thai of Chiang Mai from the corner cafe with the mango man. If you can use the dish as an indication and you are in the area I recommend you go and have a plate.