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Authentic Thai rest. in Phila.

Ive had so many so-so or bad Thai meals Ive almost given up on the cusine in Phila. altogether. Any suggestions?

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  1. join the club... at the risk of being called a whiner i'm almost ready to throw in the towel as well. no place here ranks as high as some of my old favorites in DC where i'm from. i tell myself that's OK, because there are plenty of things that philly does do better than DC... just unfortunately not one of my two favorite cuisines!

    there is one place where i have not been that gets good reviews from seemingly everyone, and that is chaaba thai in manayunk... as soon as i get a chance to make it out there i will report right back. it's just a bit of a pain since i don't have a car. i'd have to take extreme measures to get there, and then i'm worried i'll overhype the place and set myself up for disappointment.

    i *think* the only places i've not yet been to are chaaba and my thai... and if you want to count it tho it's laotian, vientiane. out of the rest of them, i think the best thai food i had was actually from another laotian place, cafe de laos around 11th and washington. trio in fairmount was also really good, and i give third place to erawan with the exception of the last meal i had from there. i would give aqua the honorable mention. :)
    the standard i judge everything on is their drunken noodles (pad kee mao). trio's had egg mixed in, which i haven't seen too often but it really made that dish excellent. the drunken noodles at cafe de laos were average, however a fish steamed in a banana leaf and a papaya salad were worth writing home about. erawan's erawan noodles are pretty good with the exception of the last time, when the spice was lacking. the rest are fine, but meh, in these tough times i can't afford to dine out for just "fine" food.

    would be interested in hearing where you had your so-so meals? what do you order? do you have a standard meal, too?

    1. I judge Thai food based on what Ive had in D.C. too, I guess we are spoiled. I usually order the phai thai and the coconut soup as a tester meal. I find that the food here is often too bland and sweet. Yuck! Ill try your sugesstions ,thanks.

      3 Replies
      1. re: michyphilly

        oh yeah, i do the coconut soup every time too. i tend to like it when it's not too thin AND when it's spicy... a rare combo! when i have a daring partner dining with me, sometimes we will order one coconut and one lemongrass and spoon half into each other's bowls. :) it's cheating a little bit but it makes the soup at certain places really shine - like thai pepper in wayne.

        i agree with the bland and sweet which is what usually upsets me about the drunken noodles! i want a nice thick, spicy sauce and rarely find it.

        honestly i have given up (just about) and have switched to vietnamese, which IS something i feel philly does very well.

        1. re: rabidog

          Have you tried the pad ke mao at Nadia's in Media? I will admit that I don't know authentic from the stand at the terminal (which I love) but find that the Pad Ke Mao there is spicy and delicious, with a sticky thick sauce. Better than the cafe de laos version (although I agree with lawgirl on their amazing stuffed eggplant).

          1. re: jessicheese

            no - i can't really get outside of philly - unless a regional rail train goes there, and you swear it is THAT good to be worth it! ;) i think i have seen this place, when i was in media a few years ago for the blues stroll.

            btw - the stand in the terminal is owned by the people who own erawan - or at least, i've seen erawan's owner working there nearly every time i am there - but i wish they had more of a selection of dishes, or changed it up now and then! i swear, it's been the same few dishes since i moved here 4 years ago, and most of them i can't eat cause they have meat.

      2. We eat at Nadia Thai across from the Lansdale train station at least once each week. Yes, it was better under the old chef; yes, it's too bad they stopped frying whole sea bass; yes, it's a tragedy that they stopped serving duck - but the saucing has steadily improved, lightening-up and grown complex. So the best dishes are vegetarian, where the tofu concentrates the sauce flavors - Jungle Queen, Wild Ginger, Thai Eggplant. And our 7 year-old loves the pad thai, and so do I.

        1. I also recommend Cafe de Laos. They make this stuffed eggplant with catfish in a curry sauce which is fantastic. Their pad kee mao isn't too bad either.

          1. I honestly enjoy all Thai food, even Thai food that I think is rather sub-par - and I agree, most of Philly is rather subpar.

            I did, however, LOVE the meal I recently had at Vientiane it you count that. I've only eaten there once so I can't vouch for the whole menu, but mine was very good and very flavorful.

            I have eaten pretty much everything on the menu at Chabaa in Manayunk, and I love it there too.

            1. I do recommend Chabaa, which is a BYOB. If you like your Thai less family style, and more Bangkok street food, then try their new restaurant down the street, Mango Moon. It's mainly small plates. I guess you could make a day of it for Thai food in Manayunk.

              1 Reply
              1. re: baksel

                what sets them apart from the rest, if you don't mind going into detail? i can't wait to get out there... i don't know which one i'll do! i don't prefer one way over the other - really there's hardly a thai dish i don't love. which one's best?

              2. cafe de laos is actually owned by a thai chef. his mother was from the thai-laotian border or something like that. i forget the details of the story, but he has another restaurant out on the main line which has been around for a long time.

                planeat thai is a take-out delivery place that opened this summer in point breeze around 16th and tasker. i've had their food delivered and it is pretty good --- not great, but good. so if you live in south philly, that's an option. but i just got back from chicago and the first thing i did there was go get some thai food.... one thing i miss about chi-town.

                1 Reply
                1. re: worthyquest

                  I ate at Chabaa today hoping to find great Thai food. Alas it was a letdown .... The spring rolls were hardly filled with anything and dry. I had the coconut soup, more dishwater. I ordered the grilled shrimp because I felt flush and it wasnt cheap. I couldnt believe that they gave me a huge plate of fried rice ,which was good , and only 4 shrimp ! This was the dinner menu. My friend thought that I ordered only rice because she didnt even notice that I was eating shrimp. I felt bad that I couldnt share with her but I needed my 4 shrimp ! Come on, for a neighborhood place this was crazy talk......