It’s Not Just Pad Thai, Y’Know

10 May

First authentic Pad Thai for 30 THB

I can never forget how my dad, cousin and sister laughed at me when I ordered Pad Thai at a popular restaurant in Chiang Mai. I could not help but feel embarrassed especially in front of my cousin whom I just met that morning. All the more embarrassed when I had him drive around in search for my cellphone only to find out it was under the blanket at his house. Silly me for being a forgetful and ignorant tourist in front of Thais. My instinct was to hide behind my dad and say shyly, “I’ m sorry. I don’t know what to order”. Then, thanks to my sister who explained to them (while laughing, mind you) that Pad Thai was the ONLY most popular food we know of that’s Thai. And thank God, she ordered for me Khao Soi, which was equally sumptuous with all that hot and spicy curry filled with soft and fried noodles.

Khao Soi – ended up ordering this at the Boat Chiangmai

I really do not know where this idea of Pad Thai being the most popular Thai food among us. It might be because of the Thai that’s affixed to it that makes it popular here. But surely my chinky eyes opened too wide when I saw the price for a serving of Pad Thai at that resto. It was 40 THB – that’s more or less PhP 50! And I really regret ordering that kind of food here considering how much the local Asian/Thai restos charge us for a plate – PhP 160 at the least. Tsk tsk tsk… All my dad could say was, “let’s order that somewhere”. With somewhere he meant at home (Khon Kaen) where they sell it even for less, by the street.


Oh, by the way, I got my first taste of Pad Thai in Thailand when I reached my dad’s hometown, Khon Kaen. We got there just before dinnertime so I still got to choose what to eat for dinner. Drove through the little market nearby and sure there was a line of several carts offering different kinds of grubs. I was just taking it in…

This is how they prepare Pad Thai by the streets

You see, Pad Thai is just like ordering fish ball or tempura at the turo-turo. This is their turo-turo along with some carts of sausages, BBQ, various viands and Som Tam (green papaya salad). There are carts that sell an assortment of food, while some have their own specialties. I could not resist but take a photo of the woman preparing Pad Thai. She had automatic hands and reaching for an ingredient here and there.

It’s just dismaying for me to realize that their food over here is overpriced and the taste altered. But I don’t blame them because it’s not our own. Of course, you need to consider that the ingredients were of course cheaper there and more expensive here. You’re paying for the ambiance as well. But I just think we, as Filipinos, need to be educated about these things. More or less the ingredients are available here. If they’re not, most of them can be planted here. We have almost the same weather, but I’m not too sure about the soil. But generally, we can grow what they’re growing. We just need to bring them here. The preparation, we can always learn. There are so many possibilities of bringing in affordable and authentic Thai food here. I hope that happens in the future so people won’t have to pay an overpriced plate of Pad Thai, or order something else that’s reminiscent of a real Thai meal – with dessert of course!

Som Tam vendor by the road outside our village



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