Not Another Pad Thai



by DIWYY · 7 comments

Written by guest writer, Danielle Koffler, our resident expert on all things Thai! Check out more of Danielle’s writing on her blog entitled Wake Up and Dance.

I’ve noticed that foreigners in Thailand get stuck in a rut when it comes to food. I can’t help but roll my eyes every time someone orders another Pad Thai. I’ve eaten with people who ask for Pad Thai for lunch, dinner, and then lunch again the next day. I find this sad and absurd because Pad Thai is usually cooked poorly where tourists eat. No one should eat the same thing over and over again while traveling because there are so many other yummy dishes out there waiting to be tried. Part of the problem is that people just don’t know what to order, so here’s a few dishes you can eat, other than Pad Thai, while in Thailand or at a Thai restaurant at home.

Som Tum

Som Tum is one of the most popular dishes in Thailand. I have yet to meet a Thai person who isn’t obsessed with this dish. Som Tum is made with shredded green papaya, garlic, chili peppers, fish sauce, sugar, dried shrimp, tomatoes, and long beans. All of these ingredients are put in a mortar and pounded a few times with a pestle to release the juices, and then served with a side of sticky rice.

I prefer Som Tum Thai which is sweet, has peanuts, and isn’t very fishy. If you don’t mind a fishy flavor you should give the Som Tum Blah a try. This version is very popular and has tiny crabs and more fish sauce in it. Som Tum is sold in restaurants and by street vendors, so you can pretty much pick some up everywhere. This dish is an absolute must while in Thailand. If you are afraid of spicy foods, just remember to ask for only one or two chili peppers.

Tom Yum Goong

This is the most famous Thai soup. If you get into a conversation about Thai food with a Thai person, they are inevitably going to ask if you’ve tried Tom Yum Goong. So try it!

Tom Yum Goong is a hot, spicy, and sour orange soup. The base is a stock flavored with lemongrass, kaffir limes, fish sauce, and chili peppers. Inside the soup you will find prawns (goong) and mushrooms. You don’t have to love this soup, but since it is such a staple in Thai cuisine, you at least have to taste it once.

Pad Siew

This is my alternative to Pad Thai. It is my favorite noodle dish in Thailand. Pad Siew is made with flat wide noodles, a soy based sauce, and broccoli. I think chicken goes best with this dish, but pork or tofu are usually options as well. I always introduce new comers to Thai cuisine to Pad Siew, and have yet to get a bad review of it. If you are craving noodles, try this instead of Pad Thai. Please!!

Pad Gapow

This is a spicy dish so beware. Pad Gapow is made with chicken, basil, chili peppers, sugar, garlic, and fish sauce. It is typically served with rice and is one of the only spicy dishes I consistently order. I recommend getting a beer with this one; it tends to thwart the burning sensation a bit.

Pad Pak Boong Fai Dang

I never knew I could love a vegetable dish so much until I tasted Pad Pak Boong. This dish translates directly to Fried Vegetable Morning Glory Fire Red. You are guessing correctly if you think it might be a bit spicy. Pad Pak Boong doesn’t always have to have the fai dang (red fire) in it, and it probably won’t if you are a foreigner ordering it. Thai people know that our tolerance for spicy peppers is far below theirs, but let your server know if you want it spicy or not, just in case.

Morning glory is also known as water spinach for us. It isn’t wide spread here in the United States, but is wildly popular in Asia. I miss it greatly when I return home, so while I’m in Thailand I order this whenever I can. The morning glory in this dish is stir fried in a brown soy based sauce, which I recommend eating with some sticky rice to soak up the delicious sauce.

There you have it: five alternatives to eating Pad Thai! After trying these dishes you probably won’t want to go back to eating Pad Thai. Happy Travels!

rachel 1

the tom yum next to my office doesnt have anything fresh like that in it… just celery and mushroms and chicken or shrimps…. lame lame lame, i want the real thing!!!!

Jet 2

Love you and miss you! Great blog. Jet

Jaclyn 3

Great post! It would be great if you can share your experiences on our site.
http://www.PinkPangea.com is an online community for women travelers to get real travel information geared specifically to women. On PinkPangea.com, women can find and share women-focused advice through photos, anecdotes and comments.

I would love for you to share your experience to our readers!

Cheers,

Jackie
Jaclyn@pinkpangea.com

Kait 4

Great post… Pad Siew was my favorite in Thailand as well! I swear I could eat it every day for the rest of my life.

Cassie 5

Love this post! When I visited Thailand, Som Tum was my absolute favorite! If anything the Pad Thai on the street wasn’t even that good. There was only one good pad thai place I went to that specialized ONLY in pad thai. I miss Som Tum so much! Tried to make it, and failed trying to shred green papaya…Need that special tool they have.

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