Local pad thai flavors vary
Lat14 comes out on top
April 9, 2019
I tasted vegetarian pad thai at five different local restaurants, reviewing the various components that make up a pad thai. The reviews below are not based off authenticity or traditionality — subjects that I am not qualified for — instead it is simply how much I enjoyed each dish. I acknowledge spice levels can drastically change the flavor profile of a meal, so I tried to go with the baseline pad thai item that each restaurant had to offer.
Lat14 Asian Eatery
8815 7th Ave. N, Golden Valley, MN 55427
Immediately after walking into Lat14, I felt a very modern vibe. The interior design is contemporary and you can tell the restaurant is relatively new, only recently its opening doors Sept. 18, according to Mpls.St. Paul Magazine. The menu did not have any spice level distinctions, so I went ahead and ordered the pad thai. When my dish came, the dark red sauce was a telltale sign of heat. Within the first few bites, I could feel the spice in the back of my throat. Eventually, after a bit of struggle, I was able to identify a vibrant flavor behind the cloud of spice I was tasting. I loved the thick sauce’s flavor with smoky undertones, which did a phenomenal job coating the noodles. The noodles themselves had a slimy feel that I liked a lot, providing a bit of resistance with each bite, but not too hard. For those who do not appreciate a nice hot pepper, I would try to ask for it mild; otherwise I would stay away from the pad thai. The sauce truly popped, which was paired with well-made noodles and delicious toppings, a phenomenal combination reaching five stars.
10100 6th Ave. N, Plymouth, MN 5544
After I had my first bite at Thai Table, I identified that Thai Table knew exactly how to make a soft noodle that still was uniform. Along with the noodles came a tangy sauce with a touch of sweetness. The balance between the sweet and savory was outstanding. The harmony found between the impeccable noodles and sauce was great. Despite having exotic flavors, one of the main downsides of the meal was how oily the sauce was. Thai Table was really generous with the amount of sauce, so I ended up with an unpleasant oil-filled liquid at the bottom of my bowl. Something that disappointed me was that there was not much egg added to the pad thai. I did enjoy having the peanuts on the side because I was able to add whenever needed. One positive was I ordered the pad thai as mild, and I could not identify any spice. In addition, the portion of food was large, especially at its price point of around $10, perfect for an evening dinner out. At the end of the day, the abundance of greasy sauce and lack of egg had Thai Table’s pad thai reach only four stars.
Sawatdee Thai Cuisine
607 Washington Ave. S, Minneapolis, MN 55415
I ordered the #58, pad thai, that also happened to be gluten-free. On the menu, the dish was marked as a restaurant favorite, shown by a small elephant next to the description. For me, their pad thai could not be considered a favorite. The noodles were harder than most of the other restaurants I went to. On top of the al dente noodles was a sweet sauce that did not have the same tang as Thai Table, leaving just sweetness coming from the green onions on top. The sauce was not very desirable. It also did not help that the sauce congregated toward the bottom of the bowl. The baseline pad thai was mild, which is a plus for those who wince at the idea of piping hot pad thai. My meal at Sawatdee Thai Cuisine simply fell short in most categories, only being saved by the good portion size, mild flavors and mediocre sauce.
Wok in the Park
3005 Utah Ave. S, St. Louis Park, MN 55426
Wok in the Park was packed on a Tuesday night, causing a long wait for seating and food, which did not help my mood going into the meal. The room itself had a very beautiful painting on the wall, which added to the dining experience — it was something nice to look at while I was waiting for my meal. I ordered their vegetable pad thai, which is gluten-free, and was surprised to see broccoli, pea pods, carrots and celery on my plate. Once again, I was hit with a sauce that had some kick to it, which I expected after two chili peppers were present on the menu, signifying medium spice. Unlike the sauce at Lat14 that really popped, Wok in the Park’s spice did not come with vibrance. The brown sauce seemed to be soy-based, lacking good flavor underneath the spice. There also was not much sweetness present in the very large portion. The noodles were a bit hard but had decent texture. Despite shortcomings in the sauce and noodle categories, I loved that Wok in the Park had an abundance of peanuts added.
Noodles & Company
5326 16th St., St. Louis Park, MN 55416
Unfortunately, I had to stay away from my classic order of Wisconsin Mac & Cheese, and this meal really had me regretting that decision. The regular pad thai at Noodles & Company was not what I was looking for. The noodles were thick and needed a significant bite to break apart. I much rather prefer having soft and delicate noodles, which are able to absorb the sauce — one of the many things Noodles & Company was unable to deliver. The sauce was very sweet — way too sweet for my liking. The regular pad thai came with a little extra kick of spice, something that was not advertised on the menu. Rather than having a nice garnish of egg on top of the pad thai, Noodles & Company decided to top the dish with a couple of large pieces of egg. The large eggs were not able to add to the pad thai the way scattered pieces would have been able to. Instead I was left trying to get at least one bite with both egg and noodle. Finally, the size of the bowl was deceiving; there was a wide bowl with only a thin layer of pad thai. It was not surprising the cheapest option ended up with the lowest score. Ultimately, the large chain was unable to do the main players of a pad thai justice, resulting in a two star rating.