Khao San Road is somewhat of an institution in Bangkok. It’s the place to go when you don’t know where to go. From there anything is possible. Need a tuk tuk, get one there, need a hotel? Get one there. Need to do some shopping? Do it there. Need some food? Get it there. You get the point. It’s what I like to call the Bangkok melting pot. Everyone comes here. I just met twins from Hong Kong in a tattoo parlour, a British girl shopping for washing detergent in the seven eleven and an Aussie drinking a beer (typical), and it’s not even 6pm. I landed here at around 3pm from Krabi, a coastal town which boasts sandstone cliffs, endless beaches and humidity beyond compare. When I got here I boarded a bus and made my way to central Bangkok before swapping the aircon of the bus for the natural cooling air on the back of a taxi motorbike. Zooming through traffic, even up the wrong way on a highway, I eventually landed at the familiar spot that is Khao San. This road is about 400m and, like I made clear before, has everything you can want. I needed WiFi and here I am enjoying a beer at a bar while reminiscing about my day.
One of the highlights of my day, which was definitely not being denied taking certain items on the plane from Krabi, has to have been my late lunch. A paupers meal on the side of the road on, you guessed it, Khao San Road. There are a number of meals you can get on the side of the road while walking and admiring the sights – fresh fruit, grilled corn, BBQ sausage and palony’s, chicken kebabs/wraps, spring rolls or Pad Thai (plain, with egg, with chicken or with seafood). I opted for a Pad Thai without hesitation - my staple when in this area. A random traveller advised me once to get a Pad Thai with egg and a spring roll which they cut up into the Pad Thai and mix it through while cooking it in a wok in front of you. I tried this and have never looked back. It’s become my staple, my Bangkok saviour. These hawker artists throw the ingredients together in a wok or flat top grill and within minutes you have a delicious concoction of fresh vegetables, herbs and noodles flavoured with typical Thai tastes. Then it’s up to you to give the Pad Thai character synonymous with your own personal style. Mine is a dash of dried shrimp for salt, a smidgen of sugar for sweetness, a lump of dried chilli flakes for heat, a squeeze of lime for tang, a hell of a lot of crushed and roasted peanuts for crunch and a few splashes of chilli oil to bring it all together. It blows my mind every time.
Having visited Bangkok five times now and planting myself firmly at the virtual entrance of Khao San Road at the Top Inn I have become accustomed to the nuances of this place. I’m still no expert but I’d like to think I know how to spot a good Pad Thai. After witnessing several being made over the course of my travels here this is a recipe I’ve thrown together just like a proper Pad Thai should be, thown rogether...
My Authentic Khaosan Road Pad Thai
- 60g stick rice noodles, soaked for 15 minutes in warm water seasoned with 1 tsp soy sauce and 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup Chinese greens (these could be bok choi or spinach or any greens bought at a Chinese/Asian supermarket)
- ¼ cup finely sliced carrots
- ¼ cup bean sprouts
- ¼ cup spring onions
- ¼ cup morning glory (optional – bought exclusively at an Asian supermarket. I fount this ingredient recently in Cape Town at an Asian supermarket at N1 City)
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp roasted and crushed peanuts
- 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1 tsp dried shrimps (optional – you can substitute this with extra fish sauce)
- 1 tbsp (less or more) dried chilli flakes
- Firstly get your noodles ready by soaking them in some warm water for around 15 minutes with fish sauce and soy sauce. This will flavour the noodles and colour them slightly. After 15 minutes remove them and pour a little vegetable oil over them and lightly massage them with your fingers to prevent them sticking together.
- Now that your noodles are prepped and ready get your wok on the heat – ideally a round based wok on gas but if you don’t have one then a flat based wok or a large pan will go fine.
- Heat a little vegetable oil in the work or pan. When hot add you egg, within 30 seconds add your Chinese greens, carrots, bean sprouts, spring onions and morning glory. Stir for about 1 minute until the vegetables are covered in oil and the egg is scrambled.
- Add your noodles to the vegetables and stir fry for 2 minutes before seasoning with fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and lime juice.
- Turn off the heat and serve onto a plate. Season with dried shrimps (optional), crushed peanuts, chilli flakes and chilli oil.
- Enjoy with chop sticks.
There you have a traditional Thai meal of the highest order ready in under 30 minutes. The key here is to make Pad Thai individually – one at a time. Don’t try make a big portion for 4 or more people, you’ll only end up disappointed.
Right now I’m so satisfied, nothing in the world could have made me happier than eating this Pad Thai like I did just now.