A workout friend and I agreed a while back to look for a Pad Thai that would be worth returning for, though he is not interested in venturing far — or maybe that’s At All — beyond his usual La Cañada-Pasadena axis. So we started with his longtime favorite, up the hill, and it was bad enough that I still can’t mention it without his apologizing at length. We have made two visits each to Saladang Song and whatever the place is next to Von’s across from Huntington Hospital, plus a few other reasonably good sources around the area.
Today, however, Mrs. O and I went down to Chinatown to pick up some art she’d bought and get a late lunch somewhere. We had decided on Blossom in Chinatown proper, where we’d had some tea a month or so ago, and liked the looks of the menu. Well, their doors were wide open, but whether they didn’t want to deal with the CicLAvia mess (which we didn’t either) or had some other issue, though their doors were open they had pulled up pipe barriers and declared themselves closed. Okay, so they’re jerks. Anyway, we had come in via Alpine, and I’d noticed a placard by the entrance to the renovated Alpine shopping mall that SalaThai, a Chinese/Thai noodle place we used to frequent, had re-opened, so we went there. The multipage photo-menu is gone, replaced with a briefer and better organized one, and Pad Thai was the first thing I noticed. Short version: we ordered spring rolls, a Pad See Ew with tofu for Ms. Veggie and Pad Thai with shrimp for me, plus Thai iced tea just because. After the proper interval that told us someone was really cooking instead of re-heating, we got five seriously hot and perfectly crisp little cylinders and an equally perfect honey/vinegar sauce to dip them in. A few beats later came the Pad Thai and Pad See Ew. Now, I made a pretty decent Pad Thai a few nights ago, and prefer to err on the side of simple and not too sweet. This was cooked a bit more, was more heavily sauced than mine, but it was just sweet enough to balance the sour, and vice versa. The peanuts had been ground almost to flour and stirred in generously, the sprouts cooked enough to be tender without losing all their crunch, and the shrimp frankly much more interesting than my quickly-thawed Trader Joe’s specimens. My taste of the Pad See Ew, which I’ve always found a bit too sweet, was not at all like that here, but much more like the Pad Thai, only with wide noodles and no peanuts.
The new room is smaller and very nice, pretty spare but attractive. Service sharp and friendly; tab just shy of $27 plus tip, and we took a good fat lunch’s worth home. And so far this is the best I’ve had on our quest.
I appreciate your pursuit. I think some feel Pad Thai is gringo Thai food, but gringo that I am, I enjoy a good one. I seem to recall that Ruen Pair has a decent one.
It is gringo food, but it’s also delicious. Like hard shelled tacos.
Man I was going to make pasta tonight but pad thai sounds good now…
Isn’t pad thai actually eaten in Thailand?..
It is, although it tends to be less sweet and more tamarind-y incountry
It’s easier than pasta sauce, if you have tamarind paste and stuff around the house.
How is it a gringo food then? Just because of the lack of tamarind?
The picture that @PorkyBelly posted of the Pad Thai at Luv2Eat (this post) looks pretty dang perfect.
I’m a big fan of the pad thai at Krua Thai in the Valley, as well as the one at Sticky Rice in Downtown (and Smorgasburg)
The normal pad Thai or the Krua Thai pad Thai?
It’s fine, whatever. Like what you like, who doesn’t like sweet, chewy slightly tart noodles. Shit’s amazing. Let’s just not forget it’s the simplest form of Thai street food so this is on the level of our hot dog. Pursuits for better noodle are more rewarding.
Actually, I think their satay is our hot dog. But yeah - basic street food nonetheless. And unlike hot dogs, one can find pad Thai at all levels of eating.
I’m off to Thailand to make my fortune. Move over pad Thai/satay.
And I agree with @Nemroz, pad Thai seems to be one of those foods that the “perfect version” is the way you prefer it. I like mine with lots of tamarind and some lime and bean sprouts, no nuts. Others like it sweet with Siracha and chicken, no tofu. It is what it is.
“Actually, I think their satay is our hot dog.” Ooooh, you just reminded me of the night I first met satay … it was one of the International Food Festivals that used to be an annual event in Nashville (or might be still, I dunno). This consisted of booths situated around whatever park space had been made available, each one occupied by people of a particular nationality. One had a couple of Thai guys cooking skewers of either chicken or beef, with a large bowl of peanut sauce and paper boats to scoop some into. They happened to be set up next to a Japanese group doing vegetable tempura, so I got some of both and some sauce and sat down to check it out. Both items were good enough, though the tempura were a little bland … but then I tried dipping those into the peanut sauce and everything sprang to life. The rich spiciness of the sauce and the crackly fried tempura batter together gave the vegetables the background I wanted. But when I tried to bring this to the attention of the cooks it did not go well at all; they had apparently developed some dislike for each other and were probably already PO’d that I’d put both food items on the same plate.
Now, about those bacon-wrapped dogs, Bookwich …
I just gained 10 pounds reading this.