Saturday, July 9, 2016

Thai Pad Food Review

Drunken Noodles with Chicken

Size matters, right? Not always. Thai Pad proves great restaurants can come in small packages. All you need is affordable/tasty food, stellar customer service and warm surroundings, and voilĂ ... a near-perfect lunch. The Van Ness eatery makes the most out of a relatively tight space (formerly home to Quiznos) and has the potential to shine in a neighborhood that could use a little culinary light.

Thai Pad has been open for almost a year (they celebrate their first anniversary next week) but before yesterday, I'd never been. First impressions go a long way, and TP hit there's out of the park. It started with cold air conditioning and a warm hello. My kind of opening, when the temperature outside is approaching 100°. As I said before, it's a relatively tiny place; yet they maximize every inch of it. 12 tables total (4 4-seaters, 8 tables for two) and plenty of room in between. Attractive lacquered tables with lightweight, silver-colored chairs fill the interior, each topped with a simple plant and rich-looking place settings (red's a great color.) The noise level was ideal, despite more than 50% occupancy; and there wasn't an annoying TV to be found... just comforting, generic background music and tableside conversation.

Green Salad

Prices normally run a tad high for lunch ($13 and up) but smart folks arrive between 11 AM & 3 PM weekdays for the $10 prix fixe menu. You can choose from eight popular entrees, each served with a Vegetable Spring Roll and vibrant Green Salad. As luck would have it, my go-to dish (Drunken Noodles with Chicken) was one of them, as was Pad Ginger with Pork, Spicy Eggplant and other Thai favorites.

Best of all, portions were generous... very generous. Perhaps even too generous. My noodle dish could have easily fed two (although I had no trouble finishing it by myself.) The side salad featured brightly-colored strands of beets and carrots, cherry tomatoes, fresh greens and a zesty peanut sauce that tied it all together nicely. As an added bonus, it was also beautiful to look at: Great plating!

Most Asian restaurants serve short, thick spring rolls. Not Thai Pad. There's are long, narrow and extra crispy. They're also pretty darn delicious, stuffed with just the right blend of cabbage, carrot, celery, taro and sweet & sour sauce. No lie, I could eat half a dozen of 'em without blinking an eye.

As for the noodles, expect MEDIUM to HOT (closer to MEDIUM.) Said flat rice noodles were dressed with basil, bell peppers, chili garlic puree, onions and tomatoes. My only complaint? The chicken was dry/overdone. What a shame, since you get a lot of meat for your tenner. It's not a deal breaker; but tender chicken could propel this dish into another stratosphere. As is, it's plenty tasty (and very filling.)

Our server was very attentive (frequent check-ins) and demonstrated remarkable strength for a woman her size (those plates were heavy!) She was also very sweet, which goes a long way in securing repeat business. Toss in a full bottle of water to start, which eliminates the need for interruptions, and frees up the staff to do what they do best... everything; and you have the makings of a beau-ti-ful relationship. Happy anniversary Thai Pad.