The Best Pad Thai I Have Ever Eaten…


Over several decades, I have tried at least 100 different pad thais around the world, and at least 20 of them were consumed in Bangkok, but without a doubt, this particular pad thai was the most memorable, and in my opinion, the best pad thai I have EVER eaten. And I will readily admit it was probably not the most authentic, the most classic, the most approved standardized recipe, but that’s truly beside the point. Often, the best, in a subjective opinion, is the confluence of food, experience, setting, friends and family with you, hunger levels, etc. that all conspire to yield that moment of culinary brilliance, which is then burned into one’s memory banks and it is so vivid you will probably never duplicate the experience again.


Many months ago we traveled to Bangkok, mostly to eat and relax and recharge… We scored some free airline tickets on points plus some budget fares and we brought three of our crew from home, as well as a couple of managers from Cebu. We ventured out of Bangkok to ride elephants and our daughter played with tiger cubs and, utterly famished, at around 2pm or so, our van driver said he could take us to a place nearby for some lunch. We stopped at this open air eatery, right beside a main road, and to Mrs. MM’s dubious looks, I watched as the lady behind the wok cooked, and somehow, I instinctively knew we were going to have a spectacular meal. My COS (Chief of Stuff) A, our Transport Manager (read: Driver) A, and our Head Chef at Home (read: Cook) A, at the first table waiting to eat something. Yes, all their names start with an “A”… :)


Mis en place. And a COMPLETE absence of flies, despite the fish sauce and other pungent and sweet ingredients.


Notice that this set-up was literally beside the road. :)


Into a wok with oil, the proprietor cracked three eggs and swirled them around roughly. She wanted the eggs lightly scrambled, but not uniformly mixed.


Once the eggs were done, she added what looked like chopped chicken breast meat (as opposed to dark meat) and sautéed this a bit. This was a revelation. She didn’t want to brown and toughen the chicken meat’s surface, rather just gently cook it through.


Next she placed soaked rice noodles (thinner than the ones you usually see in pad thai) into boiling water for a few seconds, drained them, and added them to the wok.


Add some gorgeous bean sprouts…


…turn away for 5 seconds to chop up some green onions…


…add that to the wok with some sugar, what was probably a bit of msg, some tamarind paste and perhaps some fish sauce…


…copious amounts of a mild sriracha sauce (she added more after this) and mix well…

IMG_7944 (1)

…and VOILA! First dish for lunch. Note the lack of shrimp, the chopped peanuts, and I can’t recall if she even put garlic or shallots in the oil before the eggs, but let me tell you, this was a SPECTACULAR pad thai.


Thank goodness we ordered three plates to share between 7 people. I could have eaten a portion all by myself if nothing else was forthcoming…


Maybe 30% of my love for the dish is that I got to see how it was made. It was so simple, so honest, so modest, and I know, so difficult to replicate at home. And the other thing about this wonderful dish? It cost about $1-1.50!!


The drink of choice, of course, was a classic bottle of Coke. Heaven.

P.S. Don’t ask me where this was, because the closest I can get to describing it was roughly an hour or more outside Bangkok, by the side of a road. :)


17 Responses

  1. Ground shallots and garlic may already have been added into the sriracha. Not only is this convenient, it is also economical as much less of them need to be used since they become more potent with time. As for adding the eggs first, we usually like to think that eggs need to be undercooked to fully enjoy them but ‘burnt’ eggs do add inimitable flavour and enhancement to food when sort of melded in. Think eggwash on buns and pastries, the crispy, bubbly edges of a fried egg in a wok or the deep-fried egginess of Indonesian tauhu telor as well as the coating on their perkedel (potato croquettes). Simple, humble chemistry going a long way.

  2. Yum. On the other hand Market man, one day when i see you again in Cebu,I’ll have the guts to ask for a picture picture with you. Last Thursday, my sisters and I were daring each other on who would ask for a photo with you and then we will post it in Facebook and then tag our uncle, who we think is also a reader since he shares some of your posts. When your group left, our mother told us, “na, nilakaw na.” :)

  3. GiullioMassimo, was this at the buffet lunch? Or at one of the Zubu’s? Say hello the next time, I don’t bite, it’s always nice to meet readers and particularly, commenters who have been following the blog for years… :) A few weeks ago, while touring foreign guests around the San Agustin church and intramuros, a man with his family who live in the Northern United States stopped me and asked if I wrote the marketmanila blog and he asked for a photo… I was very flattered to say the least, but it’s even nicer that I met a reader who had been reading the blog almost since it started, apparently… The blog hasn’t been too active lately, but over the years, several hundred thousand “unique” visitors or more have dropped by…

  4. The best pad thai I ever had was in a food kiosk outside the Queen Sirikit Convention Center (a must visit in BKK for local mfd products if you ask me) in the late 80s. Last year, I went back (yes, I remembered it through these years) and while the exhibition center was still there, with even more local shopping finds, the owner has changed. I asked the other pad thai shop and I was told she’s moved back to her home province. Probably the very same owner Mr. MM visited no? :-)

  5. …hunger levels…

    As in “no better sauce than hunger.” So much truth there. Universally felt yet often ignored component of most memorable meals.

  6. That’s why I always tell my guests:” Please try not to eat 24 hours before coming to my party:)

  7. yes, at the buffet lunch, your table was near ours. yep , i will. I had a feeling we will see you that day.:)

  8. Pad thai “deliciousness” would be akin to the Philippine adobo. Each cook, each region will have a different version and they will all be the best to someone at some point.

    Lived in Bangkok for over three years with not much to do, pad thai was my go to meal when I don’t feel like thinking of what to have from the huge selection on hand. Every single one of them was different; most was really good. The only ones I didn’t like were the ones that were really oily.

  9. i’ve often wondered at the absence/dearth of flies in sidewalk set-ups in Thailand, Vietnam (or maybe because it was winter in Hanoi when we went), Malaysia and of course, Singapore, even in stalls that have teaditional fly-magnets like seafood, chicken, etc.

  10. Dear Marketman
    Finally got home and of course tried to catch up on my favorite food blog and then I see my self mentioned ( I read even the comments from way back for the additional food tips and fish pan ratings). I am so glad you did not feel put upon for my asking that selfie. And yes GuilioMassimo he was so gracious to me you should’ve asked for the selfie.

  11. chin, I know a blog is more old-fashioned, but this blog has reached over 5 million people and over 20+ million page views over it’s 12 year+ lifetime… :) So I can’t imagine why Facebook would be significantly different. Blogs allow much more depth on a topic I believe, and folks who visit do it on purpose.



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