A gem of a noodle restaurant in the Ratchawat market of Bangkok.
The Ratchawat area is popular among locals for its wide range of authentic street food and traditional delicacies. Nestling among the myriad food offerings is a gem that shouldn’t be missed. It’s called Ma Rad Na Yod Pak—which is Thai for Ma’s Fried Noodles with Vegetables and gravy.
In the best of Thai traditions, it was my mother who first introduced me to this stall—she is the undisputed queen of secret food addresses. Nothing can quite compare to noodles that are fried overa charcoal stove. The tangy aroma of noodles and the smoke from the flames beneath them, create an alchemy of flavours that I find hard to resist.
Though the shop is known for its Rad Na, it is also renowned for its delicious Pad Si Ew, noodles fried in dark soy sauce. The secret weapon that makes these dishes such killer favourites is the quality of the Chinese broccoli (‘Kana’ in Thai). Chefs use the leaves and the stems, cooking to a satisfying balance of crunchy tenderness. As to the meat, imagine the most succulent pork marinated to a velvety tenderness in a secret sauce, and you’ll begin to comprehend just how mouthwatering this dish is.
You can choose your noodles—there is a choice between narrow, flat and vermicelli style. I prefer the large flat noodles known in Thai as ‘Sen Yai’. The key to a great Pad Si Ew is that the noodles should be soft and wet, but not oily. In the case of Rad Na, all the noodle styles are available plus a crunchy version where the noodles are deep-fried. This version is known as ‘mee krop’ and is my absolute favourite. The gravy is from a long-cooked pork rib stock that gives a naturally sweet taste to the gravy, mixed with fermented soya beans and seasoned to harmonise the taste before adding kana and marinated pork meats, served separately, so you can dip your noodles into the sauce and soften to your liking. It’s an exciting blend of texture and flavour, combined with the earthy pleasure of food cooked over real charcoal.
Over the three generations or more than 60 years, since Ma Rad Na Yod Pak first opened, this little stall has expanded its menu to include curry over rice and ‘Khao Tom Pla’, which is boiled rice soup with fish. There are even some fancy soda drinks with a variety of flavours for those with a sweet tooth.
One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the traditional family-style hospitality that greets every customer. You are welcomed with the warmth of a returning friend, rather than the cold professionalism that is sometimes extended to customers in more polished establishments. Moreover, don’t forget the atmosphere. You are in the open air. Also, you’re sitting out in the street with all the colours and movements of Bangkok swirling around you. It’s busy but not frenetic. A perfect local experience.
Address: Ma Rad Na Yod Pak is located near Ratchawat intersection on Nakhornchaisri Rd. Open: Mon-Fri, 10:30am-2pm and 5pm-00:30am; Sat-Sun, 5pm-00:30am. Prices vary 65-105 Baht.