About a month ago Shefali, Kaya, and I had the pleasure of spending almost twenty hours on two planes (with one layover) to travel 8,651 miles to Bangkok, exactly twelve hours ahead (timewise), where we would spend four short days before another two and a half hour flight (on one plane) to Hong Kong for another four short days. Then we came home. End of story. Actually no. We went to Bangkok and Hong Kong to spend our winter break with Shefali’s family in Bangkok and my family in Hong Kong. But more on that in a future (possible) post wherein I just talk about all the “first” foods that Kaya ate. Yeah, I’m that dad.
This post is about pad thai, specifically the pad thai found at Luang Pha Pad Thai restaurant in Bangkok. You know, that place on Maha Chai Road, a stone’s throw from the Wat Saket? Yeah that one. Ok, to be honest, we had some insider knowledge. Shefali’s sister (not Thai) and her husband (Thai) told us about this place a year and a half ago when we visited them. And boy were we appreciative. The flavor of that pad thai and the simple but elegant way it was prepared were etched into my memory. Plus I took lots of photos.
Shef wants this pad thai and bad… This is from our first trip to Luang Pha.
This small woman is a giant among cooks
But seriously, watching this diminutive woman wielding this massive wok reminded me of what a pleasure it is to watch someone who is really good at what they do. Each gesture and motion is effortless, the perfect expression of thought into action. There is no wasted effort – efficiency epitomized. Or, maybe it’s because this is her job and she does it everyday. In any case, the results are ridiculously good. So, this past trip, Shefali and I brought her mom and her sis (and of course Kaya) along to experience quite possibly the perfect pad thai. Please enjoy some photos and be sure to watch the video above which shows this awesome cook in action. You might even learn how to cook some real pad thai. Though good luck finding the shrimp fat oil…
Luang Pha on busy Maha Chai Road. Because pad thai should be enjoyed with the soothing sounds motor scooters zooming by.
This year, pad thai was a family affair
View of the kitchen
Tools of the trade.
This is how she does it.
Mmm… shrimp fat oil.
The stove: an electric fan that blows air into a wood fire to increase the heat. Genius!
Pad thai wrapped in an egg omelet.
Saheli holds Kaya who wishes she could eat this.
Me and the cook. I’m not really a giant. She’s just tiny.
It might surprise you, as it did me, that MY mom is not the only Chinese mom in the world who knows a thing or two about cooking. Imagine. Well according to my friend Jason, HIS mom makes a mean dish of chow mein that blows the socks off of Chinese restaurant chow mein – that is if chow mein wore socks. Well, fortunately for all of us Jason convinced his mom to cook up a batch. And even more fortunately, he made a video of her doing it so we may all learn how to make this mean dish of chow mein. I’ll let Jason do the honors of introducing his mom’s chow mein. Enjoy!
I luckily grew up in a household with a loving mother who happened to be a great cook. Lacking her cooking prowess, I finally asked my mom to teach my wife and me how to make one of her best dishes: Chicken Chow Mein. My mom agreed and showed up to our place ready to cook! She didn’t know we would be putting her instructions on video and posting it to the rest of the world. After a few grumbles about her appearance, she agreed to be on camera and started instructing like a pro.
We picked this dish because I have never found Chow Mein like hers. She uses standard size noodles, but pan fries them until they are crispy. When the crispy noodles soak in her incredible gravy/sauce, magical things happen. I am very happy we got her instructions on video and will be shocked if we can ever duplicate what she does so well.
Here’s the latest and greatest from my youngest contributor, four-year old Hana (seen above sampling a dumpling). This time, she takes on something a little more involved than ants on a log but as usual, she demonstrates her ease and charm in front of the camera as she guides us through the preparation of this healthy and delicious soba. Me thinks she might have a future in this business. Enjoy!
[From Hana (as channeled by her food obsessed mom, Sari)]
Dear Uncle Clarence,
Here is my favorite meal of all time and I video’d myself for you. I even take my healthy soba to pre-school in my lunch box sometimes. My friends think “What the hell is that? It kinda stinks…” but I don’t care–it’s goood! I make it myself and thought you needed my recipe on your website. I got confused and called the Japanese yam (which my mom thinks is taro in English but maybe not?) many different things. It’s real name is “tororo” but I said, tororo, totoro and daikon and something else. They are all white and weird except for Totoro so it’s all the same.