Words and Photos by Aleena Inthaly
A delicious Pad Thai is a right balance of salty and sweet flavors that will melt in your mouth! Pad Thai is a well-known rice noodle dish that is made up of sweet tamarind, vinegar, and chilies garnished with bean sprouts and green onions. I always say you can find the best Thai restaurants by judging the flavor and execution of their Pad Thai. Therefore I have compiled my top five restaurant picks in Richmond to order this delectable dish.
5. Mom’s Siam, Carytown
Right across from the historic Byrd Theatre, Mom’s Siam is a quaint two-level restaurant serving up a new take on Thai food. The Pad Thai at Mom’s Siam is good enough to get your taste buds going but I wouldn’t say their Pad Thai is super scrumptious. It posses the right amount of sweet and spice for people who have never had Pad Thai before in their lives. I recommend using the lime on the plate because it will definitely bring the noodles to life. Though Mom’s Siam is not the traditional Thai restaurant, the creative take on Thai cuisine is admirable.
Pros: Mild flavor, fresh chilies, crispy peanuts, served with lime, moderate prices
Cons: A little too mild for Pad Thai veterans, not traditional, very sweet flavor, missing distinctive tamarind flavor
4. Elephant Thai, Harrison St
The first time I entered Elephant Thai, I was dumbfounded by the lack of flavor in each dish I ordered. However, after giving it another shot, I found that their Pad Thai is rather titillating. A step up from Mom’s Siam, Elephant Thai’s Pad Thai has both flavor and color. Though not the best of the best, an order of Pad Thai and Thai Iced Tea at this restaurant will put you into a happy food coma for a couple of hours. The tamarind sauce is on the sickly sweet side but it is more enjoyable with a few touches of lime juice. Elephant Thai is also a great place for carryout because it is right next to campus.
Pros: Served with lots of limes, colorful, bright presentation, good portion
Cons: Too mild, too sweet, needs more peanuts, expensive
3. Ginger Thai Taste, Carytown
You’ll want to go to dinner early because Ginger Thai Taste can get really busy come dinnertime. This small quaint restaurant has traditional Thai ambiance and decor. The food here is very good and the presentation is impressive. Despite not being the best I’ve had in this city, their Pad Thai is rather memorable and scrumptious. Ginger Thai’s Pad Thai is pretty close to the real thing. It is full of wonderful sweet and sour flavor served with the right amount of chilies, peanuts, and limes The portion for each person is pretty big so if you want to share, Ginger Thai gives you that option.
Pros: Served with the right amount of garnishes, big portion size, colorful
Cons: Busy Restaurant, a little on the sweet side, needs more tamarind, expensive
2. Thai Top Ten, West Grace St
Close to the top of the list is Thai Top Ten, a convenient Thai restaurant located right on campus near the Plaza Art Store. Thai Top Ten’s food is incredibly authentic and satisfying. It did not make first place because of the questionable service and inconsistency of the flavors but overall this is a great place to stop by and get some Thai comfort food. The Pad Thai is a wonderful remedy of flavor and spice. The tangy sweet punch will have you savoring each bite. However, I wish they were more consistent with the flavors in the sauce because one day it can be spot on but the next day it can be too sweet or too sour. Other than that, Top Ten is a strong Pad Thai creating force. I boast that Thai Top Ten is the best Thai restaurant on campus and recommend that everyone go here at least once.
Pros: Authentic, good prices, delicious garnishes, balanced tamarind sauce
Cons: Inconsistency in food, bad service
Conquering the number one spot, Thai Diner Too holds a special place in my heart. The flavors at this restaurant just fill your stomach with goodness. If you are a person who enjoys spicy food and dishes that are full of unique flavors, this is the place to go. Not only is the Pad Thai exquisite, it holds a lot of personality that Pad Thai can lack here and there. Though Thai Diner Too looks a little sketchy from its exterior, it definitely makes up for it with the food. If you are a foodie who is not afraid to try something different and you aren’t really familiar with Thai food, this is the place to be.
Pros: Authentic, good service, cozy interior, flavorful noodle dishes, full of spice, good portions
Cons: Sketchy interior, busy