Dishes don’t get any more iconic than pad Thai, the famous stir-fry of shrimps or chicken with noodles, egg, bean sprouts, crushed peanuts and tamarind paste. One of the must try local dishes in Bangkok it’s become a favourite among foreigners, but not all pad Thais are made equal. A good pad Thai should be flavoursome with a slightly smoked taste coming off the well-used wok. Here’s a list of the 5 best places to eat pad Thai in Bangkok.
TAKEAWAY: Along with changing the name of the country from Siam to Thailand in the ‘30s, the then prime minister promoted pad Thai as the national dish. He did this by encouraging their sale on mobile street carts and supplying residents with basic recipe books.
Pad Thai Ekkamai
Let’s start with a biggie. While this little shophouse restaurant doesn’t look much from the outside – you might even walk right by without even noticing it – they serve up one of the most luxurious pad Thais in the capital. You pay for it though. A normal street pad Thai might cost 50 baht, but you’re going to be parting with at least 250 baht at Pad Thai Ekkamai. What you get is their signature dish which is cooked with flash-fried squid, large freshwater mussels and two giant prawns. It also opens until the wee hours, so makes for a get stop off point for late night munchies on the way back from a night out.
Thipsamai Pad Thai
Thipsamai Pad Thai is easily one of Bangkok’s most famous spots to try the dish. Since the mid-‘60s, the small shophouse restaurant has been serving up a premium version with prawns, cubes of tofu, bean sprouts, and peanuts. As soon as they open in the early evening, you’ll find roaring charcoal stoves with staff cooking up batches of up to 15 dishes while hungry locals and foreigners queue for a table. Their signature dish comes wrapped up in a light, fluffy omelette which you can tear open to find the smoky noodles.
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If you’re looking for a little atmosphere with your dinner, try Baan Phadthai, which literally translates to ‘Pad Thai House.’ It’s a beautifully converted shophouse packed with vintage décor, wood panelling and open-sided front. Being dedicated to the dish, it’s unsurprising that they have perfected the art of pad Thai. They use high quality produce to create a classic dish. Or you could try one of their house specialities like pad Thai pu which includes crab, or pad Thai moo yang, which is topped with slices of barbecued pork. All the dishes are exquisitely presented, and they create some mouth-watering desserts to finish the meal. It’s no surprise they were awarded a Bib Gourmet by Michelin.
Pad Thai Mae Am
Those after a classic version of pad Thai, one that’s done right without the modern bells and whistles, should try Pad Thai Mae Am. The use of quality ingredients like freshwater prawns and handmade noodles adds up to one of the finest pad Thais in Bangkok. Smoky, slightly sweetened and served with a kai jeow omelette, you can’t do better than Pad Thai Mae Am. Don’t take our word for it though, just look at the long queue of locals patiently waiting for a table. It’s easily reached on foot from Klong Toei station.
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If you’re staying in Silom, you simply can’t miss scoring a plate at Padthai Saladang. This no-frills, basic looking street food restaurant has been serving up plates of stir-fry to hungry office workers for years. Be warned, if you visit at breakfast or lunch, you’ll likely be queuing for a table. You’re not going to find any signature dishes here, just a good quality plate with the perfect balance of sour, sweet and seasoning. The dish always comes accompanied by a side of bitter hua plee banana flower which works well with the sweetness of the noodles.