Pad-Thai Perfection

Some of the best ethnic food in town is hidden in surprising places. Such is the case with a teeny tiny delectable gem tucked at the end of a strip mall near 143rd Street and Metcalf Avenue.

Pad-Thai Restaurant is don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it small. Once found (it’s near Tanner’s), the hard part is over.

Now, for the easy part.

Prepare to swoon over some of the most crave-worthy authentic Thai cuisine in town.

The intimate eatery is pristine, with glass-top tables populated with perky flowers in blue and white vases. The wait staff is unfailingly eager to please, and if the place happens to be full, there’s a small patio area to accommodate al fresco dining, weather permitting. Otherwise, “take out” is always an option.

As Thai restaurants go, much of the appetizer menu is predictable, with usual suspects like pot stickers, soft spring rolls, egg rolls, crab rangoon, coconut shrimp, beef ribs and chicken satay.

What’s not so predictable are the spicy basil wings, fried mussels and plameuk (fried squid). You could come for dinner but instead choose to make a meal of appetizer samplers alone.

The namesake dish is ample and reasonably priced, $9.95 (lunch) and $19.95 (dinner). You’ll enjoy a plate heaping with noodles — plenty, in fact, to easily share. The dinner pad Thai is served in a variety of preparations, such as seafood, royal Thai, chicken marinated in garlic and rum and the sensuous Chef’s Delight, which is a combination of chicken, beef, shrimp, pork, mussels, scallops, squid and crab meat. It’s impossible to put words on paper to aptly describe the explosion of flavors and textures in this tasty dish.

Be warned when ordering your dish prepared “hot.” They take heat seriously. The menu options include mild, medium, hot or Thai hot. Try ordering mild and request the Thai chili pepper preparation on the side so you can spice it up to your precise liking.

Hot jasmine tea is a delicate complement to balance a satisfying lunch or dinner meal. Or for a refreshing twist, try the Thai iced tea with cream.

photos: Brooke Vandever