Pad Thai offers nuance in usually fiery cuisine

Gerald Rich

When it comes to their Thai restaurant of choice, UT students typically pick from Madam Mam’s, Thai Noodle House or Thai Kitchen. Now there’s a new player in the neighborhood.

Pad Thai’s newest campus location, located farther away from campus next to Five Guys Burgers and Fries on Guadalupe Street, serves up classic spicy plates with a slightly understated flavor and fire subtle attention to detail.

The interior design is chic with black tables and chairs that contrast with green- and orange-colored blocks. There’s no strong kitschy faux-Asian touches, just a cool modern design that doesn’t distract you from the food.

The service was slow. Long lag times between ordering and the arrival of food definitely gives you time to look at the mod decor, but at least the dinner doesn’t disappoint when it actually comes out. The delicately flakey egg rolls and a tall slender glasses of swirling orange Thai tea aren’t novel, but they’re classic foods done right.

Pad Thai delivers egg rolls hot and fresh after a slight dunk in the frier. The Thai tea leaves that sweet, cool flavor on you palate for the trial-by-fire yet to come.
For the main course, Pad Thai has great pad thai. A Thai restaurant without good pad thai, especially one named Pad Thai, just doesn’t work.

The noodles are thin and not clumped together in some ugly orange muck. The citrusy tamarind juice and red chili peppers give a sweet beginning with a slightly spicy finish. That’s not necessarily something unique to the restaurant, but combined with the balance of flavors, it makes a tasty meal.

Thankfully the balance of flavors isn’t limited to that quintessential Thai dish. The pad kee moa was again tasty, flavorful and didn’t have sticky noodles like its Thai Noodle House counterpart. The tom yum soup wasn’t thick and heavy like Madame Mam’s, but filled with a moderate amount of tomatoes, leeks and onions to leave a nuanced sweet and sour flavor in your mouth.

However, nuanced is not the word many would associate with Thai food. The neighboring Thai restaurant, Thai Kitchen, aptly names dishes like “crying now” and “never, never again,” whichgive a picture that’s more in line with the cuisine’s peppery stereotype.

Those with a more delicate palate will probably welcome this moderately priced new addition to the campus area Thai food trifecta.