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Pad Thai quest for the perfect Thailand Pad Thai


I have made this wonderful Thai creation many times for myself and guest.  Anyone thinking of Thai Food, well this is the first thing that comes to mind, including mine too.

While living in Thailand 2014-2015 I became a bit of a cooking creation “how to do that” person.   Part of this creation was always the question of what is really a Thailand National Dish.   Everyone or anyone you talk with be it a Thai person or a tourist on the street, say Pad Thai.

My travels I have had the chance to cook along side many of the Five Star resorts famous chef’s for their creation of Pad Thai.  Which I have come up with a various different styles of the dish, some for “tourist” what they expect from the street vendor of which I have tried a few dozen varieties of street food Pad Thai to the Five Star Resort Hotel food, served on china plate, both are well Pad Thai, the shrimp a bit bigger or smaller, but both reflect this style of a National Dish,,, including my own recipe here.  see photos above


But really what is Pad Thai and more to the question where did it come from, who created this dish. To my surprise the dish is original style of Chinese cooking methods, adapted into the Thailand style.  The Pad Thai along with many other Thai creations all come originally from China many many years ago, see BBC article for more details.

Now to answer this and a few more questions, I shall re-print a news article from the BBC, who asked the exact same questions.  What is PAD THAI ??

I wish to reach out to “M Me” and “Pim” for help many time at their restaurant in Bang Chang Thailand to help guide me in the process of Thai cooking, sharing the secrets from the family in traditional Thai cooking methods, to this I say thank you very much !!   

Read this article, as it truly tells about the history of PAD THAI.


“Oh god!” said the American expat, rolling her eyes disdainfully, when I told her I was here in Bangkok to write about pad Thai, the noodle dish found in almost every Thai restaurant around the world.

I understood her aggrieved response. Pad Thai is the first dish most newcomers to Thai cuisine try. And going to Bangkok to find the perfect pad Thai is, to a Thai food aficionado, the culinary equivalent of wearing a Nickelback concert T-shirt. It’s just not cool.

But pad Thai was my introduction to Thai food some 20 years ago, and I was immediately hooked. I loved how the flavour of the crushed peanuts interacted with the prawns and rice noodles. I’d never tasted anything like it before. I’ve since moved on to more regional Thai fare, but I wanted to revisit my roots, however uncool that may be.

Besides, underneath those wok-fried rice noodles is an intriguing history – one that suggests that pad Thai, the country’s national dish, might not be very Thai at all. This, I confess, was also fuelling my interest. Not only did I want to find the best pad Thai in Bangkok, but I wanted to learn the truth about this ubiquitous dish’s past.

I began my search at Sa La Rim Naan, an upscale restaurant run by the Mandarin Oriental and located across from the hotel on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, the wide, murky waterway that buzzes with fishing boats and water taxis. A friend of a friend told me that Prathan Phanim, the chef de partie, made a mean pad Thai.

“I make a very traditional version of it,” Phanim said, ushering me into a back room in the kitchen. I watched as he sautéed prawns, fried a couple of eggs with tofu, and then added the rice noodles, which had been soaking in water for hours. He then doused the wok with pad Thai dressing (liquefied chilli, soy beans and shallots), dried shrimp, and a concoction of tamarind and fish sauce, before plating it and topping it all with fresh coriander, lime, peanuts, bean sprouts, and for good measure, a banana leaf.

pad Thai at Sa La Rim Naan, Bangkok

The well-balanced pad Thai at Sa La Rim Naan. (Credit: David Farley)

As I stared at the colourful dish, admiring the green coriander, the red chillies and the yellow-green banana leaf , I realised Phanim’s pad Thai looked different from others I’d seen. It looked neater. Better dressed, you could say. At least until I took my fork and mixed everything up, as one is supposed to do before eating it. As for the taste, it was well-balanced. All the requisite flavours were represented, none eclipsing the other. There was sweetness from the sauces, sour from the lime, saltiness from the fish sauce and spiciness from the chillies.

I asked Phanim how his approach to pad Thai differed from other chefs.

“The one way this dish is going to differ is in the sauces,” he said. “Everyone has their own recipe and uses different amounts of sauces. It’s often a secret.”

“Speaking of secrets,” I said, “do you think pad Thai is actually Thai?”

“It’s totally Thai,” he said.

But not everyone agrees, including chef Sirichalerm Svasti, who goes by the name Chef McDang. A Thai native who has lived in England and the United States, he is a Bangkok-based celebrity chef and member of the Thai royal family. When I asked him to take me to his favourite pad Thai spot, he suggested we meet at Hot Shoppe, conveniently located about 20 meters from his home in the Thonglor neighbourhood.

“We are a rice culture,” McDang said. “Noodles and stir frying – the two main elements of pad Thai – arrived in Thailand 250 years ago with Chinese immigrants.”

“So you’re saying pad Thai, the national dish of this country, is Chinese?” I asked.

He nodded.

“It’s not just the technique,” he said. “Look at the ingredients: tofu, noodles, dried shrimp, to name a few. Are any of these Thai? No!”

He paused and then added: “But what makes it Thai are the sauces and pastes. The profile is Thai. Everything else is Chinese.”

When the order of pad Thai landed at our table, McDang stuck his fork in, twirled some rice noodles around and then took a bite. “Yes,” he said, “this is pretty good.” He was right. It was good, though it was a little sweeter than I’d prefer.

“The thing with Thai food,” McDang said, “is that many of the dishes have come from the top down. Traders from Europe would turn up centuries ago and introduce an ingredient or dish, but before it got disseminated, the king had to agree. If the king liked it, he was the one who distributed it.”

Pad Thai, it turns out, was no different. In the late 1930s, Prime Minister Plaek Phibunsongkhram wanted to modernise and unify the country to create a sense of “Thai-ness”. After changing the nation’s name from Siam to Thailand, he sought to create a national dish. There isn’t much documentation on how Phibunsongkhram came upon pad Thai – some historians trace it back to a cooking competition he organised – but suddenly the dish began popping up all over the country.

Penny Van Esterik, author of Materializing Thailand, thinks that pad Thai was the first standardised recipe in the country, thanks to the systemic way in which it was handed down and the nationalistic fervour surrounding it. But that said, the dish’s preparation varies today: it may come with a banana leaf on the side; it may be sweeter or sourer; the sauce that’s mixed in may be heavier on chilli.

My next stop was to see Jarrett Wrisley, an American-born chef whose Bangkok-based Thai restaurant, Soul Food Mahanakorn, has received many accolades. He suggested we head to Thip Samai, popularly known as Pad Thai Phratu Phi (Ghost Gate pad Thai) because of the restaurant’s proximity to a crematorium. Unfortunately, Thip Samai was closed that day, so we headed to his restaurant instead and began with a plate of his pad Thai.

Unlike the version at Sa La Rim Naan, this pad Thai wasn’t as well balanced in flavour – and that was intentional. “I hate sweet pad Thai,” Wrisley said, “so I purposely add extra lime.” But the overall taste was excellent thanks to the top-notch ingredients he uses and the fact that the noodles are cooked until they’re al dente, rather than until they become mushy, which is all too common with pad Thai everywhere.

We then wandered across the street to try the dish at Hoy Tod Chaolay, a salt-of-the-earth spot frequented by locals. We were met there by Chawadee Nualkhair, who penned a guidebook on Bangkok street food. “This place made it into my book because it’s very popular for pad Thai,” she told me. But I found the dish here to be too dry. There was no tamarind, it was too sweet and it just didn’t stand up to the other versions I’d sampled.

Pad Thai at Hoy Tod Chaolay, Bangkok

Pad Thai at Hoy Tod Chaolay. (Credit: David Farley)

“The problem,” Nualkhair said, “is that the flavour profile of the dish has changed over the years. We have globalisation to thank for that. As the world becomes smaller, flavours here are conforming to those of international restaurants and fast food chains.”

Yes, the dish that introduced the world to Thai food is now being transformed in its native country, thanks to an increasingly homogenising planet.

Although nearly all the pad Thai I had in Bangkok was better than versions I’d eaten outside of Thailand, I wasn’t wowed by any of it. I’d fantasised about stumbling upon some tiny out-of-the-way street cart selling the best pad Thai I’d ever eaten. That didn’t happen. I didn’t see as much pad Thai on offer in Bangkok as I thought I would, and most of the people I’d asked to take me to the tastiest version in town hardly budged, choosing restaurants located in their own neighbourhoods. It seems that enthusiasm for pad Thai might be waning, both in Thailand and outside of the country. It’s the regional cuisine of Isaan, located in northeastern Thailand, that’s all the rage among Thai food lovers these days.

So has pad Thai run its course? Is this the beginning of the end for a dish pushed at the population 75 years ago? Maybe.

On my penultimate day in Bangkok, still intent on finding great pad Thai, I jumped in a cab and directed the driver to Thip Samai, the place Wrisley and I had tried to visit earlier in the week. I arrived right at 5pm, hoping to avoid the spot’s legendary lines. The air was humid, and sweat was dripping from my pores. Still, I couldn’t wait to eat this legendary pad Thai.

Pad Thai wrapped in egg

Pad Thai wrapped in egg. (Credit: Harpal Padwal/Getty)

Soon enough, a plate of the noodles was before me, wrapped in a womb of fried egg. I pushed my fork through and took a bite. The flavours were perfectly balanced. Sourness, sweetness and saltiness all played off one another, with additional hints of charcoal. I added chilli flakes to give it some kick.

But after eating about seven versions of pad Thai over three days, I’d grown tired of the dish. Maybe it was the atmosphere – the slightly charred scent from the huge wok; the cacophony of screeches and beeps from the bustling traffic; the various herbs wafting around the sidewalk – but I finished the dish with mixed feelings. This was the last time I would have to eat pad Thai in a while, and yet I didn’t want this moment to end.



Thailand farmers market

Thailand farmers markets in every village

The farmers markets are all over Thailand as a stable and additional source for fresh produce, fresh sea foods of assorted fish, squid and other sea creatures. The adjoining farmers market will have local merchants setting up stands selling everything from shoes to tee shirts and socks.  You name it, and it is here, including the elephant too.    [click on the full screen icon right corner of the slide show, to see images full screen]

The stalls sell both fresh products but also an assortment of cooked ready to eat or packaged to take home for your evening meal or next day meal.  BBQ pork on a stick, as shown in the images is my favourite only ten baht [thirty cents us].  Make a meal with rice out of two or three of them, all less than a dollar with rice.

No matter where you are at in Thailand, the city Bangkok or the beach village where these images were taken, Ban Chang, all the farmers outdoor markets are the exact same, some a little bigger, some smaller, but all have basic the same produce, cooked foods and merchant stalls.

Yes, the Elephant, is there for children to feed sugar cane sticks to, interesting side stall, had to take a image, ten baht for a bag of sugar cane.

Hope to see you soon in Thailand.   Rusty


Thailand beach front cafe Lunch “Pork Fried Rice” $1.87 meal

Ban Chang Beach front Thailand cafe meal $1.87

This to me is paradise living on the beach at my Resort, relax with the pool or take a walk on the beach.  This beach front cafe is next door, offer a complete Thai menu all at very reasonable prices.  The meal shown above is $.60 baht, or about $1.87 US dollars.

  [click on the full screen icon right corner of the slide show, to see images full screen]

Hearty lunch meal, my choice today was Pork Fried Rice, comes with a few onion sticks and sliced cucumbers plus “HOT” sauce made from Thai red chile peppers, if you dare, good spicy hot.  I eat it !

The beer is cheap too, a ice cold over sized 630 millilitre bottle, 6% beer in the grocery supermarket cost about $.45 baht [$1.40 us] but this is two beers in one big bottle ! !   At a restaurant expect to pay $.60 baht.

Why Thailand ?

1. Rental for a beach front resort suite $ 219. a month

2. Food at a local cafe with beer about three bucks

3. Transportation is my new Honda Scooter, rental $88. dollars a month

What else do you need?


Thailand Beach Resort Retirement Condo rentals $219. a month furnished

Thailand sandy beach resort Ban Chang



This is the beach front condo I am staying at in Thailand.  Ban Chang located about 2 hours drive from downtown Bangkok.  The resort has a half mile of premium sandy beach front in aqua warm water.  Soft sand to walk along and pick up an assortment of tropical sea shells to fill many jars back at home with holiday treasures.  [click on the full screen icon right corner of the slide show, to see images full screen]

The beach in nice, but I really like the cold clear water of the pool, refreshing “cool” of fresh water is awesome.  Swimming pool depth is just right one plus meter to two plus meters at the other end or just relax soak up the sun, work on that tan, this resort has it all.

All my best to everyone, more video coming soon too.  Rusty


Thailand Retirement in Paradise $219. a month condo rent beach front !!

Retiring and thinking of Thailand, you can rent you a Studio Condo unit in this complex shown above, furnished for less than $219. dollar US a month. [smaller units available for $157. a month rent]  This complex was build as a Four Star Hotel Beach Resort in the late 1970’s.  Back then 1960’s  the developers found a mile of the most awesome sandy beach and put up three resorts all connected, over the years.  These units site smack on the beach, nothing between your patio and the sandy views.

Things happen, they closed the resort, left vacant for my estimate 20 years, till now.  A investment group has taken over the buildings, repainted, cleaning them up, the two olympic oversize pools are resurfaced ready to swim.

They have two class of units, some for sale, with new tile floors, new kitchen bath.  Since these were original as “hotel room” suits, they are reasonable size for a bed, sofa, dining table and kitchenette, plus full bath.  You have a full wide patio off a glass slider.  Plenty of room for two and your doggie if you so choose. You can purchase two units and adjoin them together too.

The others are for rentals have been cleaned up but lack the upgraded new features of the new remodelled units for sale.  The rentals are very liveable !!  Make no mistake, ready to move in.

All unit have air condition in case for the days your not enjoying the ocean breeze off your patio, you have air.

The resort had end units which are really a oversize three bedroom two bath home, located on the ends.  Only a few of these are available, my friend I’m staying with here in this building has one.  Extreme large, photos to share soon.

Rental rates for a come and see visit 3 month rental @ $219.  a month plus your electrical, water, cell phone, TV, internet package.

Rentals are a year lease, with possible longer lease available,  your rent is then month to month. [one month security deposit at start]

Interested in this resort living in Thailand, contact me directly to arrange your 3 month visit OR one year lease directly with the property owners.

This beach front complex is one of a kind, nothing else like it anywhere, if you want to live on the beach here in Thailand do not regret your not coming here, two hours out of Bangkok driving.

I have been looking for a beach front resort living for over a year in Thailand, many are way to expensive for us on a fixed social security income.  This is a real place, take a look at the photos, I personally took each image in 2014, this resort is real deal.

Limited Units available for rent, you want one now is the time to act.

* prices based upon August 2014 exchange rate baht to us dollar

Photo notes:

Beach photos elevated looks like a aerial was taken from the condo patio, this is the actual view off the patio

The pool images, your seeing correctly, is one of two pools at this condo resort complex, come work on your tan !!