It’s not often that I rave about pad thai. That’s partly because, as a dish, it is over-hyped outside of Thailand to such an extent that you would be forgiven for thinking that it’s all the Thais eat, or that’s it the national dish. It’s not – in my view, that accolade easily goes to somtum, the papaya salad dish that fuels the whole country.
But that’s not to say I don’t enjoy a plate of pad thai every so often, though I am rather picky about where I eat it – as, done badly (i.e. in its greasiest form from the carts of backpacker enclave Khaosan Road), it can be a pretty ghastly affair. My sure-fire spot to get a hit of insanely good pad thai, loaded with flavour and topped with fresh, juicy, shell-on prawns and served up in a banana leaf, is a stall at On Nut night market run by this genius of a woman.
Watch her knock up a giant wok-ful of pad thai at her streetside stall, part of a cluster of stalls on the edge of On Nut night market serving a whole variety of foods – she throws in an insane quantity of noodles, beansprouts, eggs and an even more copious amount of oil, before tossing it around and dividing up the resulting goodness between the fifteen or so banana leaves laid out on the table behind her. Most people opt for take-away, the banana leaf wrapped up inside a sheet of paper and secured with a rubber band, but you can get it on a polystyrene tray to eat at the tables behind, where you can combine it with snacks from any of the other stalls and a beer from one of the small bars inside the market. Either way, expect to pay a modest 40 baht.
The ordering system can be a tad confusing at times, so just ignore the countless people standing around at the stall – they’ve already ordered, are waiting for their take-away food and are in themselves a sign of the popularity of this place – and leap in and ask the woman assisting the cook for however many eat-in or take-away portions you want. You’ll usually be given a numbered ticket, then wait for your serving to be dished up and your number to be called out. Pay when you get your goods – they don’t seem to have much of a problem of people ordering and then not picking up, so there’s no need to pay in advance (and in any case, there’s enough punters around to sell the stuff on to someone else, and it always sells out quickly.)
The one downside to the stall is that your order can take a while to come through, so feel free to head off elsewhere in the market to hunt down more food and drink, or if you’re with a group eating in then have a seat and just pop back periodically to check if your pad thai is ready yet. It’s worth the wait, though – oh yes, well worth the wait.
On Nut Night Market (BTS On Nut), evenings only from around 5.00pm