When we were in Thailand last fall, hubby and I tried out a few different versions of pad Thai from street vendors and restaurants renowned for this famous noodle dish. One of our favorite renditions was found in Chiang Mai, at an open-air restaurant known as Pad Thai Ha Roat (ผัดไทย 5 รส).
The name of this establishment refers to the five flavors (ha/ห้า=five, roat/รส=flavors) which are present in a good pad Thai: salty, sweet, sour, spicy, and savory. And after taking just one bite of these delicious noodles, we knew that this restaurant lived up to its name.
As you walk in, there is a cooking station to the left with all of the ingredients for pad Thai on display out front. In addition to rice noodles, there were mounds of fresh bean sprouts, garlic chives, and banana flowers, cartons of eggs stacked high, pre-cut tofu, roasted peanuts, dried ground chili powder, and an abundance of lime wedges.
The rice noodles, instead of being dry or soaked in water, had been marinated in a sauce of tamarind juice, palm sugar, and fish sauce so that they were thoroughly permeated with that characteristic sweet, salty, and sour goodness that pad Thai is famous for. When combined with the acidity of lime, the crunch of peanuts and bean sprouts, and the savoriness of garlic chives, the noodles really did burst with all five fantastic flavors!
They were so flavorful, in fact, that I am inspired to revisit my pad Thai recipe and try marinating the noodles in the pad Thai sauce as they did. Hubby and I both had plates of plain pad Thai (ผัดไทยธรรมดา), but you can also order a special large version of pad Thai (ผัดไทยพิเศษ) and pad Thai wrapped in an egg blanket (ผัดไทยห่อไข่). All come with a side of chives, bean sprouts, lime wedges, and banana flowers.
After scarfing down our plates of noodles, we were lucky enough to meet the owner and talk about our shared love of Thai food. He told us that his restaurant has been in business for decades, and has gained immense popularity with locals and tourists alike. In fact, if you get a chance to visit, you can see yellow plaques lined up on the walls, filled with signatures and comments from visitors in various languages.
As we talked into the night, the owner graciously invited us to try his version of fish curry with noodles (khanom jeen nam ya). He had spent all day making this dish for his family dinner, and it was just as delicious as the main restaurant staple. Who knows, perhaps there will be two items on the menu the next time we visit!
Restaurant: Pad Thai Ha Rot | ผัดไทย 5 รส
Address: Chang Moi Road Soi 3, near Thapae Gate, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Open Daily 5 – 11 p.m.