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Fearless Critic restaurant review
New Haven
Casual restaurant

Mon–Fri 11:30am–3:30pm
Mon–Fri 5:00pm–10:00pm
Sat–Sun 11:30am–10:30pm

Features Delivery, outdoor dining
Bar Beer, wine
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted

Upper Chapel Area
1170 Chapel St.
New Haven, CT
(203) 562-0322
Pad Thai
You should be scared off by the name, but this place still pulls in a steady stream of customers

Naming one’s restaurant after a dish that doesn’t even exist in a remotely similar form in the country of Thailand is quite the odd move. Or is it? So sorry is the general state of Thai food in the US that this sugary noodle dish, which is the most popular “Thai” dish among Americans, so maybe they’re just good businesspeople.

But if you’ve been to Thailand—or some of the more authentic local places like Rice Pot or Thai Terrace—and fallen in love with the salty-sweet-sour-bitter experience that’s the trademark of real Thai food, it is hard to go back to Thai-Chinese-American places like Pad Thai.

The space here isn’t bad—lighting is nice and dim—but the décor is still uninspiring. There are, however, a few outdoor tables in the summer—a definite plus. Many of the flavors have been toned down from their traditional levels in that classic misguided concession to the American palate. Slightly more interesting “chef’s specials” have attendant prices that are a bit dear, but they’re still not great.

If you do find yourself here, we suggest that you order anything but the eponymous pad Thai, an already bland dish that gains nothing from this lackluster treatment. Well-priced noodle options abound, and the standard meat-and-vegetable stir-fry dishes are all in attendance—the usual low-priced options for those on a grad-student stipend.

Perhaps because of the rather sterile atmosphere, the place rarely seems crowded; they seem to do much of their business on a take-out basis. There is one advantage to Pad Thai, though: with the big glass front window on upper Chapel, you can spot your arch-nemesis dining inside from clear across the street, in plenty of time to turn tail and go elsewhere.

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