I love Pad Thai when well made, just as much as I hate a blend version of what it can be. Unfortunately the latter version is the norm. But Orawan in the Sri Yan area is a true master in making this famous dish, a dish that was a result of Marshal Phibin’s idea of incorporating noodles into Thai eating habits by declaring a competition in the early 1940s. And Pad Thai was the winning dish.
You might be of the idea that Bangkok is flooded with good Pad Thai vendors along the cities smaler and bigger roads, as it from a technical perspective is an easy dish to make. The truth is, when you have tasted a couple of the truly great plates, that only a few top notch makers of the dish has habitated the city. And the two sisters at Orawan, that has taken over their fathers cooking station, is among the few masters.
I have met a big number of backpackers and others over the years that has shuffled spoon after spoon with Pad Thai from the many street stalls along Khao San Road, praising the quality, saying it’s the best there is. And they have really believed it. I have told them the truth, given them a couple of addresses near by the famous party street, together with my email and an agreement that they respond with an opinion. And the response is overwhelming, asking me for more tips on where to eat.
It’s not always easy to know how good the plate in front of you is if you havent tasted a plate by any of the masters, and if Khao San Road is your reference, you haven’t met a master. On the other hand, the chances are quite high that you stop eating the far to oily and greasy reheated stuff along Khao San Road when you have tasted one of the good plates. Pad thai is made from stir-fried rice noodles with egg, tofu, prawns, bean sprouts, peanuts, shallots and the make or break for this dish, tamarind juice/sauce. The protein are sometimes changed to chicken or prawns. It’s a dish that is both sweet and tangy. By adding a few flakes of chili you add a light spicyness that really fits the dish.
Orawan is nothing more than a big pan and a few tables, a place many would be a bit sceptical to test wihout a reference, as it most likely look a tad or two more grungier then your usual choice of street food vendor. But please order a plate and sit down, the taste will soon make you forget any worries you might have had.
What really separates Orawan from the crowd, except for excellent cooking skills (including the cooking to the noodles) and fresh ingredients, is the tamarind sauce. They use real tamarind pulp to make a tamarind water mix that really makes their version among the best Pad Thai’s there is in the city of Angels. And yes, they guard their secret on how to mix the pulp. Don’t feel ashamed when ordering you’re second portion. And don’t forget that the condiments on the table are ment to be used. We’re after all talking about a noodle dish. And everybody have their own preferences for that. So first you taste, then you make a decision of what is needed, if any. Personally I like to add a few flakes of chili and sometimes a drop or two of fish sauce (think salt in western termes).
You find the sisters, one of them in her fathers far to big black clogs, shuffling the ingredients with inherited moves on the corner of the entrance Soi to the old Chantima Theatre. Don’t just pas them but sit down for a taste. It just doesn’t get any better. I have not tasted their hoi tod (mussel omelet) as I always take the opportunity to have one of Bangkok’s best Pad Thai plates when in the Sri Yan area.
Name: Orawan Pad Thai Hoy Tod
Food: Pad Thai and Hoy Tod
Open: Daily 5-10pm (sometimes it seems to open a bit earlier – 4 pm).
Phone: 086-973-0756, 080-973-5772
Address: Nakhon Chaisi (sometimes written Chai Si or Chaisri) in the Sri Yan area.
How to get there: From down town, take the BTS to Victory Monument and jump into a taxi for a 15 minutes ride (unless rush hours). You could also come the waterway as Payap pier takes you directly to Sri Yan market in Dusit district. Orawan and Sri Yan market is a short 5 minutes straight walk away, just follow the Nakhon Chaisi road from the pier. You find Orawan on the other side of the road from the market entrance. It’s a real street stall without a formal number, but you find them on the corner of the soi that leads to the old Chantima Theatre. On the other corner of that soi is a Chinese shop selling chinese high quality ingredients to make food. Nakhon Chaisi Road number 470 i on the other side of the Nakhon Chaisi road where the entrance to the market also is some twenti-thirty meters away. If you come from Khao San Road or Phra Athit road, take Samsen road until Nakhon Chaisi and turn right. Orawan i on the corner of the first soi to the left.