Pad Thai is so synonymous with Thailand that it even contains the country’s name; however the famous wok-fried noodle dish doesn’t have a history as long as most would have thought. Pad Thai was actually introduced to Bangkok around 60 years ago thanks to a campaign by Luang Phibunsongkhram, the then Prime Minister who wanted to address Thailand’s rice shortages by introducing noodles into the country’s cuisine, as well as increase patriotism and nationalism.
For the uninitiated, Pad Thai is a dish made of wun sen lek wok-fried noodles, mixed with tamarind paste, to which shrimp, tofu, bean sprouts and spring onion is then added. Peanuts, chili flakes and sugar are added according to personal taste.
If there’s one place you really need to sample the dish then it’s Bangkok – and we’ve picked the five of the best places to do it.
- Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Tour
- Banyan Tree's Apsara Dinner Cruise
- Vertigo & Moon Bar Rooftop Dining
- Ayutthaya Ancient Capital Tour with River Cruise
- Shangri-La Hotel's Buffet Dinner Cruise
- Bridge on the River Kwai & Historic Railway Tour
- Siam Niramit Dinner Show
- Calypso Bangkok Cabaret Show
- Chao Phraya River Dinner Cruise
- Grand Palace & Emerald Buddha Half-Day Tour
Ask any local where to find the best pad Thai in Bangkok, and nine out of ten will tell you Thip Samai. Also known as ‘Pratu Pee’ (meaning ghost gate), this really is the grandfather of Bangkok’s most famous dish, opening up shop nearly 50 years ago in the Old City quarter.
Portions here are generous, and the signature egg pad Thai comes with a thin layer of omelet cocooning the moist and fresh noodles that are cooked over a charcoal fire. Prices start at a slightly inflated 60 baht, and go all the way up to 200 baht if you want a huge shrimp too. Don’t forget to order their famous orange juice, which is delivered fresh from the countryside every day. Thip Samai is easy to find; just look for the line of people queuing underneath the bright red sign on Machachai Road, near Wat Saket (Temple on the Mountain).
- Opening Hours: 17:00 – 01:00 (earlier on weekends)
- Location: 313 Mahachai Road, Old City (close to Wat Saket)
Baan Phadthai is a restaurant devoted to Thailand’s most famous noodle dish. While it’s true that most travellers visiting Bangkok will enjoy a Pad Thai – usually cooked in front of you in a wok as old as the person cooking it – the versions created at this converted shophouse close to Sapan Taksin BTS Station are a little more special! Because the original recipe is very simple, many pad Thai restaurants and street stalls add unique ingredients or condiments – there’s nothing new about that. But Baan Phadthai takes this simple delicious dish to the next level with high quality ingredients and a few innovative variations such as Phad Thai Phoo (crab) or Phad Thai with Moo Yang, a traditional and extremely popular grilled pork, perfect for those who are allergic to seafood and don’t get the chance to eat this famous Phad Thai. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 11:00 - 22:00 daily
- Address: 21-23 Charoen Krung (Soi 44)
- Tel: +66 (0) 2 060 5553
This modest shop house in Ekamai claims to serve the best pad Thai in Bangkok, specializing in generous portions of seafood to go along with those delicious wok-fried noodles. At 250 baht, their signature ‘Pad Thai Ekamai’ does seem a little bit pricey (compared to the 40 baht you usually pay for just the noodles) – however, the hearty dish does come with fresh squid, two large king prawns and a few juicy muscles.
Other options at this well-known restaurant include basic pad Thai for 45 baht, as well as the highly recommended pork satay for 65 baht. Find Pad Thai Ekamai by heading up Ekkamai Road (Sukhumvit Soi 63); look for the red banner in Thai on your left hand side just before soi 19.
- Opening Hours: 17:00-24:00 daily
- Location: Sukhumvit 63 Soi 19
- BTS: Ekkamai
- Tel: +66(0)82 022 5000
The second restaurant on Bangkok’s busy Rama IV Road to make our list is ‘Pad Thai Mae Am’. This modest yet highly rated spot is walking distance from Klong Toey MRT Station and right across the road from the huge fresh market. Specialising in only two noodle-based dishes (the second being kuay diow gai or thick rice noodles and chicken), Pad Thai Mae Am really brings things back to basics.
Seating comes in the form of miniature stools and the tired-looking walls are adorned with old photos and magazine cut outs. The pad Thai recipe is just as old school – which can only be a good thing – with the noodles being prepared before with tamarind paste, palm sugar and fish sauce, and then given a re-fry to give them a classic pinkish colour. The end result is about the best we’ve ever tasted in Bangkok – not too greasy to give you a heart attack but not too clean to make you feel like you’re on a diet.
- Opening Hours: 12:00-22:00 daily
- Location: Rama IV Road (opposite Klong Toey Market), Bangkok
Nara is a foreigner’s favourite restaurant in Bangkok which has been serving lovingly presented Thai food for many years. They have two versions of pad Thai but we recommend the pad Thai with shrimp, sweet tamarind sauce and crispy egg for 220 baht.
The taste is definitely catering more to the foreign community as it is sweeter than most other pad Thai recipes, however we rate Nara’s version because all of the ingredients used are top quality and the dining room is stylish and air-conditioned. Side ingredients include fragrant banana flower, lime, spring onion and crushed nuts. If you want to create a more localised version of the dish use the pretty garnish selection to add a few mounds of chilli flakes and vinegar. The shrimp are extremely fresh and crisp, served out of the shell for added convenience. Nara has several locations but we rate the original branch next to Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok as the best.
- Opening Hours: 10:00-21:30 daily
- Location: Erawan Bangkok lower Ground Floor
- BTS: Chit Lom
- Tel: +66 (0)2 250 7707