Sawasdee-ka my lovely readers! It’s a greeting from Jan Napas, Thai ASEAN-Korea blog correspondent. Many of you guys must recognize well or have heard about Thailand’s most favorite noodles dish, Pad Thai. For some of you who might not know, Pad Thai is Thai fried noodles cooked with flat noodles, shrimps, egg tofu, peanuts, Chinese leeks, and most importantly, the perfectly-mixed sauce from tamarind juice and lime juice…Yummy! Since I have been living in Korea for almost two years, there are millions of times when I crave for my country food and get to visit (more than ten of) Thai restaurants in Korea. So, in this article, we will together find out more about Pad Thai that is sold in Korea, how different it is from the original one in Thailand, and also, we will experience some Thai eating culture in Korea. Let’s go!
Many Thai residents in Korea share almost the same opinions when asked about how Thai food tastes in Korea. We all agree that, some of the food is very close to our home food; however, some is totally different. It is possible that some foreign food can become ‘Koreanized’ in order to match Korean customers’ taste buds (same thing goes when you have a super-duper spicy Dak Galbi in Bangkok!)Therefore, I am very excited to go trying Pad Thai in various places in Korea and see how they will taste like. First destination is an authentic restaurant in Itaewon of which I heard the chefs are Thai natives. Perfectly decorated in Thai-style, the restaurant also offers different types of Pad Thai: chicken, shrimp, pork, etc. When Pad Thai Goong (shrimp Pad Thai) is served on the table, the appearance gives me an immensely good impression thanks to the traditional plate, savory ingredients (except for the lemon, we normally use limes, in fact), and colorfulness of the food.
Next stop, we are going to another Asian restaurant which I heard its fame of Pad Thai very often before (but apparently it self-describes as a Vietnamese restaurant…oh, well!), located in Anam station. What they sell here is Hae Mul Pad Thai which means seafood Pad Thai. It amazes me because seafood Pad Thai sounds very special (we do eat, but not so generally.) In reality, shrimp Pad Thai is the most common and the most popular among all types. When the food comes to our table, the amount never fails to satisfy me. See how huge it is.
We have something slightly different here from the original one in Thailand. In fact, we do not put Chinese cabbage in Pad Thai. The taste is not too bad though; but, it is hard for a Thai to call this a ‘real’ Pad Thai. The sauce they use here is much different (I suppose they use some Vietnamese sauce which is quite spicier.) Spicy-food lovers are just going to love this for sure (but remember not to take this as a real Pad Thai! hahaha!)
Next, we move to another famous Asian restaurant which owns franchises all over Korea. Fortunately, I have a chance to go there with an Indonesian friend (along with other western fellows), so we get to try some Indonesian dishes also. What we order are Pad Thai Goong, Tom Yam Goong (Thai), Mi Goreng, Nasi Goreng (Indonesian) and some fried spring rolls. Surprisingly, Pad Thai and Mi Goreng look and taste pretty much the same. Pad Thai here is very tasty, not too spicy, but still it is not an authentic flavor. What makes disparity, again, is the sauce. It somehow lacks that sourness from tamarind juice (it is indeed the key of a yummy and original Pad Thai!) However, if you are already a fan of Mi Goreng, I think it is very easy for you to fall in love with Pad Thai since both are cooked in similar way, just the bases of ingredients are slightly different.
I hope you enjoy this month’s article and get to know more about Thai cuisine market in Korea. Is it the same or different in your country? Is there any other Thai food do you like? Let me know more about interesting Thai food in your country by sharing your comments below. For those who are living in Korea, feel free to ask me if you need more information regarding Thai restaurants in Korea. I shall be very glad to give you more suggestions. Until next time!
By Napas Kornvipasruang, ASEAN Correspondent from Thailand E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org All photos are taken by Napas Kornvipasruang