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Tell Me About Thai

I am really a newcomer when it comes to Thai. We went to a Thai restaurant years ago and didn't like the food so..... I have a great sushi/Thai place near us and would like to give it another shot. I LOVE spicy food - what do you suggest? Is Pad Thai spicy? I don't like cooked fish (sushi is wonderful) so anything else is a go!

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  1. To me, Pad Thai is not normally a spicy dish but you can certainly order it spicy...just did that for Pad Thai take-out last night as a matter of fact. Thai Curry chicken is very nice and can be ordered spicy too if you like dishes with coconut milk. Pad See Ew is a dish with brocolli and very delicious also; might also be a good dish to try sometime as you expand your palate for Thai foods.

    16 Replies
    1. re: Val

      Val - is Pad See Ew the same as Pad Seuw?

      I'm looking at the menu for the Thai place close to where I work, this sounds like yours - and it sounds good.

      Do you know what the dish that is served in some sort of pot, with noodles and (I heard there was) an egg, cooked somehow, is? I went to another Thai restaurant (my first time and I had NO idea what I was doing) I noticed a lot of people were getting this, and it looked very good.

      Thanks for your help!

      1. re: Cookiefiend

        Pad See Ew is stir fried flat noodles with egg, broccoli, carrots and snow peas in a sweet soy sauce...I've not had it served in a pot but you're going to see different variations of it from restaurant to restaurant, I would think, also as you would see a variation on the spelling of it as you mention in your post. Have fun exploring Thai foods! They are fantastic.

        1. re: Val

          I was stationed in Thailand while serving in the Air Force and never once was served Pad See Ew with snow peas and carrots (sweet soy sauce?). I don't know what region of the country you're in, but here in the OC I've never had it served that way in any Thai restaurant I've eaten in. Traditional Pad See Ew is made simply with...dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, garlic, broad rice noodles (sen yai), Chinese broccoli (and NOT Calabrese variety, common to North America), egg, and some form of thinly sliced meat — commonly pork or chicken.

          1. re: crt

            crt - that version of Pad See Ew sounds much better - the sweet say sauce doesn't sound too good!

            Hopefully the place here serves it that way...
            must try soon!

            1. re: crt

              Crt, I'm sure mine is not as authentic as yours...I'm stuck in SW FL and I can't swear that the Thai food I can find here is all that authentic...I'm only going by what's available here.

          2. re: Cookiefiend

            I think "Pad See Ew" and "Pad Seuw" are the same thing, just the same sounds spelt differently, like "Rad Na" and "Lard Na" (another Thai noodle dish).

            And could the noodle dish served in the pot be "Thai sukiyaki"? I sometimes order it when I want something soupy yet filling. Here's more info about it on Wikipedia:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sukiyaki...

            1. re: dreamsicle

              It could be - the restaurant doesn't have their menu online so I can't check.

              What ever it was, it was in a dark round thing and had noodles and broth. People were eating it with chopsticks and spoons - chopsticks pulling meat and whatever out, chopsticks and spoons for the noodles too. I don't remember any dipping into something else except the little bowl of rice. I overheard someone ordering the dish and heard them ask about an egg coming in it. By that point I didn't have the menu with me, and couldn't write it down so I could remember the next time I was there.

              I hate when that happens! :-)

              1. re: Cookiefiend

                cookie, this dish sounds similar to the one you asked about:
                *Floating Market Noodle Soup
                $7.50
                Beef, meat balls, bean sprouts in beef broth. Your choice of vermicelli noodle, thin noodle or rice noodle."

                -- maybe thai nut can tell you the thai name, as he/she knows the thai square resto, iirc.

                this is taken from the menu for thai square resto in arlington, va.
                http://www.thaisquarerestaurant.com/i...

                it is very popular there.

                my favorite thai dishes are som tum, a spicy green papaya salad,
                http://www.thaisquarerestaurant.com/i...

                and kee mao, or "drunken noodles" with the wide, fresh rice noodles. i like it best with ground chicken. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/410029
                http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...
                more savory than sliced chicken, imo.

                1. re: alkapal

                  Thanks alkapal!

                  I'm just going to have to go back, make a pest of myself and find out what that is!

                  It sounds similar to the Floating Market Noodle soup - how I wish I had known what I was doing when I went in!

                  ps - I love your Banana Flip ode :-)

                  1. re: Cookiefiend

                    cookie, you are very, very kind to say so. cheers!

              2. re: dreamsicle

                Noodle dishes in Thailand are frequently made with just a few noodles at the bottom, as opposed to the primarily noodle-laden dishes often served in Thai restaurants in the US.

              3. re: Cookiefiend

                Linda VH,
                Here's a suggestion that might make your meal more enjoyable. Go with as many people as possible, but even two can do this. Each person orders an appetizer and a main dish that looks good to them. No doubling up, and if one person orders a chicken dish, everyone else steers clear of chicken. Everything is passed around and shared. This is the way Thais eat. The advantages are that you get of try a lot of dishes and if one turns out to be a bummer than you are not stuck with it. It also makes paying the bill easy as you just divide the grand total by the number of diners.

                CookieFiend,
                The two spellings you gave for Pad See Ew are for the same dish. Although there is an official system for transliterating Thai into Roman letters, very few people pay attention to it so most Thai restaurant owners use their own system when writing their menus. As for that noodle dish, if the dish was served with everything already in the pot than it was definitely not Sukiyaki which comes with the raw ingredients on separate dishes. The only Thai dish I can think of that comes in the clay pot is KUNG OP WUN SEN which has thin transparent noodles made from mung beans, spring onions, shrimp, fatty pork, seasonings, and maybe some other veggies. No egg. If your dish came with egg than it is likely a dish that that particular restaurant dreamed up, and which happens a lot with stateside Thai restaurants.

                1. re: ThaiNut

                  I'll write Kung Op Wun Sen in my Palm and see if that's the same thing when I go back.

                  This is very interesting... and confusing! I keep going back to look at this menu, http://www.thaispice.bz/ and wondering 'Is this, this?"

                  :-

                  )

                  What else might Drunken Noodles be called? This menu has Mee Ga Tee and Padd Thai with 'rice noodles' and then there are several things with 'fresh wide noodles'...

                  I appreciate all your help - and everyone elses!

                  1. re: Cookiefiend

                    drunken noodles are pad kee mao
                    and this looks like a good one: http://www.desertmodernism.com/blog/2...

                    1. re: alkapal

                      ah ha!!

                      I've got Padd Kemau - I bet it's the same thing!

                      Thanks!

                      1. re: Cookiefiend

                        ding ding ding ding!!!! you win!! hope they use the fresh wide rice noodles. SO much tastier!

            2. Thank you Linda VH for asking this - I'm in the same boat! I'll be watching this post with interest.

              I'm exploring the Thai place down the street from my office. So far I've tried the panang curry. It's marvelous - spicy with a coconut milk and something soupy/sauce, white chicken bits and green beans. The menu says that it's medium hot and I would say this is true.

              Good luck!

              1. we go to a local place that does a very good vegetarian duck made with tofu and veggies over rice.as a non-meat eater,it's probably my favorite dish there.their version of cold sesame noodles is done with buckwheat noodles although i don't know if that's common to other thai places.

                1. Usual standards:
                  Green Curry, red curry, or panang curry with chicken (regional differences with curries: some make this with a sweet note to it. I can't stand it. I always ask for NO added sugar with these.) Aside from that, I LOVE thai coconut milk curries. Make them at home all the time too.

                  Thai fried rice - usually much less greezy than "cantonese" fried rice

                  basil chicken

                  khaosoi khaosoy, or whatever it might be called in your area. Usually a fried noodle served with a curry.

                  Pad Sieu (again, it will be spelled differently from place to place. I've seen Pad see ewe
                  Pad seuw, Pad siew. usually a broad rice noodle in a brown sauce. Ask for it spicy!

                  Lard Nar, another Stir fried broad noodle dish

                  Thai fried chicken

                  Pad Thai is generally not a spicy dish, but mainly a sweet / sour flavor combination.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: gordeaux

                    Pad Thai is to Thai food, as Chow Mein is to Chinese food- It is the "safe" dish to order and the staple of virtually all Thai restaurants....however when it's done right, it's extremely delicious and it's often difficult to put your fork ( or chopsticks) down- it tends to be sweet vs. spicy- keep in mind that a lot of Thai dishes use sugar as Gordeaux indicates above...so if you are watching your blood sugar or carbs, stick with the often bland Thai spring rolls and call it a night

                    1. re: gordeaux

                      Is there a proper or preferred way to pair proteins with the curries? or is it a personal palate thing?

                    2. We just had Thai from our favorite place and it was delicious. We ordered Drunken Noodles and Suki. The Drunken Noodle dish is broad noodles stir-fried with fresh basil, chicken, veggies and spices. Suki is a rice vermicelli/broth/meat combo with what the owner of this place calls "sour curry." Any Thai place can adjust spiciness to your preference. We go very spicy indeed.

                      1. my test for a Thai restaraurant is Gai Gao Prau - spicy basil and ground chicken (sometimes pork) over rice. good with sauteed rice noodle instead as well.

                        the curry suggestions also merit and work well as a next-day leftover porridge.

                        Thai.

                        ...

                        1. I love jungle curry, which is a curry made without coconut milk. It's very spicy.

                          Also, if the restaurant does the dessert of fresh mango with coconut rice, do try it. It's gorgeous.

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: Kagey

                            Oh yes - Mango with sticky rice is another standard Thai dish.
                            Delicious when done well!

                            1. re: gordeaux

                              Keep it coming!!! I love the idea of getting a group and ordering different things BUT I'm the only spicy eater I know!! I'm going to try some of your suggestions. Linda

                              1. re: Linda VH

                                The Thai beef salad (forgot the name) with cukes, celery, red onion, fishsauce, lime, cilantro and lots of bird peppers.... to die for, and actually pretty easy to make at home. I crave that stuff on a regular basis!

                                1. re: linguafood

                                  or the calamari variant, Yum Pla Muk.

                                  1. re: hill food

                                    how is the calamari cooked in this - or is it?

                                  2. re: linguafood

                                    Thai beef salad is YAM NUA though the spelling may be slightly different depending on the mood of the menu creator. YAM means 'salad' and NUA means 'beef.' Lots of stateside Thai menus will use the word YUM instead of YAM for 'salad.' YAM is actually more correct.

                                    1. re: ThaiNut

                                      THAT was it! Thanks for reminding me. Then there's larb which is the ground version of this salad, no?

                                      I love that stuff, and the fact that it's so amazingly easy to reproduce at home!!!

                                      1. re: linguafood

                                        YAM's and LARB's are certainly related; both come from the Northeast of Thailand where the food has a very strong Lao influence. YAM's can be made of just about any meat or fish which is cut bite-sized and then tossed with lime juice, ground hot pepper, fish sauce, shallots, garlic and oftentimes mint leaves. LARB's can also be made from just about any meat or fish but, as you noted, the meat/fish is ground up and then quickly cooked with various spices and served along side lettuce or cabbage leaves onto which you spoon some larb. The word LARB actually refers to the spicing which usually consists of lemon grass, galangal, spring onion, hot peppers, toasted rice powder and then many of things also in YAMS's like fish sauce, lime juice, cilantro, mint, etc.

                                        I also really love YAM's and LARB's and often make them at home. Some weeks ago I posted the recipe for one of my favorites, Catfish Larb, here on CH.

                                        CookieFiend.
                                        "Mee Ga Tee" is made from very thin rice noodles which are even thinner than thin spaghetti. The "Ga Tee" is short for "HUA GA TEE" which means coconut cream. PHAD THAI, PAD SEE EW and PAD KE MAW (drunken noodles) are all made with larger noodles and don't have the coconut flavoring.

                                        1. re: ThaiNut

                                          Marvelous, Marvelous, Marvelous!

                                          Thank you so much for this information, as well as letting me know that sometimes things are spelled differently.

                                          What you've done is given me an idea of what to expect!

                                          I'm searching for your recipe on Catfish Larb next...

                                          :-)

                                          1. re: Cookiefiend

                                            Tis at:
                                            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/481812

                            2. Tom Kha Gai - Chicken & coconut milk soup.

                              When Harry Nilsson sang, "put the lime in the coconut" he knew what he was singing about. It's delicious!