Walking up Dinso Road from Democracy Monument I hear the sound of someone banging on metal with a hammer, combined with the smell of delicious food—quite confusing at first but as I keep walking nearer to the sound I understand why. A simple shop house on the street is alive with sounds, smells, and people. It looks like a street-side food cart is parked inside but in fact this is part of the shop’s decoration. I see people sitting at the food bar counter and more sitting upstairs overlooking the main floor. Whatever it is, it’s really inviting. But still I’m mystified by how this narrow street scene produces such a loud noise. Looking around, I realize it is the sound of someone stirring a wok over blue flames, clanging the metal spatula, and inside the wok is… Pad Thai!
This is the concept of Chef Andy Tang, the Thai chef who founded Rhong-Tiam restaurant and was awarded the first Michelin Star for Thai food in New York. And now, here in this Old City shophouse, he again shares his passion for food with Pad Thai Fai Ta Lu—his latest restaurant creation—focusing on a dish that has become one of Thailand’s most recognized food identities.
Chef Andy cooks his Pad Thai and plays with the chemistry of kitchen substances—a strong flame, an iron wok, and high-quality ingredients, while managing to keep the formula simple.
To my eyes it’s a straightforward Pad Thai to which he adds the interesting twist of using unexpected meats, and the version with pork neck is divine! Besides the quality of the meat, sourced from an organic butcher, Chef Andy also knows how to cook pork neck to its best texture. It’s perfectly burnt around the edges yet so tender in the middle. I know from the first bite that I will be in trouble because it’s not easy to stop craving more!
I move on to another Pad Thai, this time with crispy pork lard—a taste from my childhood, reminding me of when my grandmother made oil from pork lard and we ate the crispy leftover pieces for a snack. I am telling you, this ingredient works so well, and the texture of the crispy bits amidst the noodles, tofu, and bean sprouts makes it deliciously fun to chomp. Also on offer is a Pad Thai Koong (shrimp), which is a classic and familiar version, but the heart of this dish here made me feel like I was having a custom-made creation.
It’s true that good food makes you want to move, and the sound of northeastern morlam music playing in the restaurant transports me to another time and space, where I feel like I want to dance and celebrate with good friends.
Forget about comparing this Pad Thai to the ones on Khao San Road. I won’t say which is better, but I will say this is on another level. Try it for yourself and you can start to make your own comparative notes.
Prices are up to the ingredients chosen, starting from B75 and going up to B230. Pad Thai Fai Ta Lu is open between 11am and 11pm from Monday to Saturday, and between noon and midnight on Sundays. The shop is located at 115/5 Dinso Road in Pranakorn (north of Democracy Monument).