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Pad Thai Differences Boston vs. LA

I moved to LA from Boston 2 years ago and I've had pad thai here maybe 3 times. I was shocked to find that the dish is completely different than the one they serve up in Boston. I don't know if my memory is failing me, but I believe the dish in Boston uses less translucent noodles and the sauce is more peanutty and not orange at all.
Any idea where to get the kind they serve in Boston? And...why is it so different?

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  1. Not to derail you, but you might want to look beyond pad thai, mee grob, satay and the like and try some more adventurous dishes at say Ruen Pair, Yai or Jitlada. Papaya salad, or fried morning glory stems, or mussels, or pork and broccoli, or even red or yellow Thai curry. Soon memories of Boston Thai will vanish.

    6 Replies
    1. re: mc michael

      I am definitely open to trying other things and that's what I typically do. I'm a big fan of the papaya salad at Ruen Pair.
      I'm really just curious about this difference...and sometimes you just want something that is familiar.

      1. re: DanielleW

        If you want a decent run of the mill pad thai, try Chan Dara or Chan Darae.

        1. re: mc michael

          Thanks! Chan Dara is not too far from my house.

          1. re: DanielleW

            It won't be Boston, but it will give you a sort of middle of the road benchmark for LA pad thai.

            1. re: mc michael

              Boy, it does not take much to get pooh-poohed around here rather quickly.. Yes you should try other Thai dish's, I think you probably knew that... As for the question, yes the pad thai here is different then what we see on the east coast. (NYC for me) Never saw chicken in it as an option before coming here 5 or 6 shrimp where I had it in many different place in NYC. I get the different region thing of different countries just fine thank you. And yes, outside of Thailand, LA has the largest Thai population... So with that said, in addition to you (OP), I too seek a good pad thai even though I am quite aware that there are many other dish's I can try when dining out...

              1. re: winstars

                Every Thai restaurant I've ever been to in NYC, including Sripraphai, Pam, and Wondee offers chicken as an option. I know because I don't like shrimp.

    2. There is variation in most dishes even in LA. Owners of ethnic restaurants are faced with a dilemma. Make it authentic as in the country of origin or make it more palatable to the American tastes or maybe something in between. Catering to the American palate is the best way to keep the doors open. Most Thai chefs are very versatile and if you ask for what you want they can make changes. There are also many dishes not on the menu which Thais know how to order.

      1 Reply
      1. re: RichardM

        See the Southern Thai menu at Jitlada.

      2. I too moved from Boston to LA, but about 5.5 years ago. I've always been pleased by the pad thai at Palm on Hollywood, finding it to be flavorful but not scary and fishy (alas, my taste for fish sauce is not as refined as I'd like.)

        As for Boston, i liked the one at Jae's the best.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Rosiepigs

          What you say. It is the case though that some Pad Thai in LA is orange and gummy. But then some scrod in Beantown is not the best either.

          1. re: mc michael

            There is some REALLY TERRIBLE pizza in NYC if you are not careful... Usually, the Gyro's in addition to the pies are a dead giveaway. LOL NYC transplant...

        2. FWIW, In Boston I have had two types/styles of Vegetable Pad Thai: Standard and Rustic/Village style... The standard has tofu, eggs, scallions, peanuts, oil, slight sweetness and some steamed green and yellow vegetables... The Village style had an orangish somewhat hot/spicy sauce and a greater variety of large cut vegetable, including carrots. I don't know if this is the difference or not... Oh, yes, I forgot the bean sprouts! Looking at various recipes for "Vegetarian Pad Thai" I see they often have Tamarind and Red Pepper sauce... That is NOT part of a standard Boston Pad Thai as far as I've seen in the past 20 years. Only that one restaurant with the Village Pad Thai was the sauce "orange"...

          1 Reply
          1. re: Emyth

            That's my experience, too -- I definitely saw orange pad thai in Boston.

          2. I'd shop around a little more, either on Hollywood Bl., or Sherman Way in North Hollywood.

            My recollection for instance, is that Ocha's and Yai's pad thai are not as orange and sugary, as Vim's. Also, I also suspect that even those L.A. thai restaurants which have good chefs sometimes "over-gringo-ize" their pad thai, depending on the customer, so feel free to ask the server to ask the chef to, e.g., crank up the tamarind or turn down the sugar (there's some perfectly good pad thai recipes out there which actually use catsup; not kecap, but plain old Heinz red-tomato-stuff-for-burgers catsup...)

            1. i too was from the boston area, and have had pad thai at two places up there and was convinced it was my favorite food; since then i must have it in about 10 other states, who knows how many different restaraunts, and it has never been as good. there was one time here in austin that i think it was, but the two times since at the same place havent even been anywhere near