After a wonderful five week honeymoon eating our way through Asia in 2013, Alissa and I were excited to head off for the continuing adventures of Alissa and Don Eat Asia in 2015. What started as a Japan trip with stopovers in Bangkok and Hong Kong ended up focusing on our stopovers to the point that we decided to drop Japan altogether - especially with the considerable rise of Bangkok restaurants like Nahm and Gaggan making a convincing case for Thailand as a truly great candidate for destination dining. With the risk of flight delays and missing our reservations meaning Gaggan and Nahm would have to wait until later in the week, Alissa and I headed out for our first meal in Bangkok at Thip Samai - a restaurant said by many to serve the best Pad Thai in Bangkok.
Although they are a sit down restaurant within an actual building rather than a stall, Thip Samai is basically street food at a mass production scale - multiple cooks fry up batches of Pad Thai at wok stations set up outside on the street. Knowing that this is the dish the large crowds of locals and tourists alike are queuing up for - their menu is considerably streamlined - their seems to be a constant stream of Pad Thai being cooked up and a happy customer ready to receive their dish.
Standing in the orderly and fast moving queue allows one to view Thip Samai's signature 'wrapping' station - A thin omelette is cooked up on the very hot wok, with the Pad Thai encased within.
The result is a very deluxe Pad Thai that is true to its street food soul with also being beautifully presented.
Accompanying the main plates are various topping and condiments to customise each Pad Thai to the diner's preference, including lime and fresh herbs...
... alongside two different types of chilli, pepper and sugar.
Of course beautiful presentation can only get you so far; the dish has to also be delicious. Thankfully, the Pad Thai encased within was one of the best Pad Thais Alissa and I have eaten. The noodles were perfectly seasoned and flavoursome, being neither too wet or dry or overcooked. Mixed in with nice pieces of Tofu and succulent, well cooked Prawns, the base product was excellent with the Omelette wrap's fluffy thinness meaning the ratio of egg to noodles was correctly balanced. Being able to customise it to taste only allowed it move even closer to perfection; we loved the extra crunch of the peanuts and the zesty acidity from a squeeze of lime, and both types of chilli (dried and pickled) added to the complexity of the dish.
To acompany the Pad Thai, Alissa and I ordered a Coconut Slushie drink. With its sweet coconut flavour and slight saltiness, this was a very refreshing respite from Bangkok's stifling heat and humidity.
The Verdict: Excellent +
Thip Samai's Pad Thai deserves its reputation as one of Bangkok's finest; it was definitely one of the best Alissa and I have ever eaten, with perfectly cooked noodles and prawns, excellent seasoning and the incredibly light omelette wrapper being both visually striking and in a perfect ratio for the amount of noodles. With an excellent base product, the topping customisation means Thip Samai's Pad Thai could almost be the perfect Pad Thai for just about anyone. Highly recommended.