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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Casual restaurant

Mon–Thu 11:00am–3:00pm
Mon–Thu 5:00pm–9:30pm
Fri 11:00am–3:00pm
Fri 5:00pm–10:00pm
Sat–Sun noon–10:00pm

Features Outdoor dining, veg-friendly
Bar Beer, wine
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted

2309 SE Belmont St.
Portland, OR
(503) 232-8766
Pad Thai Kitchen
Some of the city’s best Thai-American dishes in a warm, hip spot

When will the madness end? When will real Thai food be readily available all over the United States?

Because as it is now, there are only a handful of restaurants in the entire country serving legit Thai food to non-Thai customers (Pok Pok being one of them). So Portlanders are lucky. But get out of our little oasis, and head east, say, to Omaha, Nebraska, and you’re totally out of luck.

Part of this green-curry-with-chicken problem is that non-savvy travelers are duped into believing that Thai food is indeed sticky-sweet pad Thai and milky coconut curries by the fact that you can find this stuff in...Thailand. All over tourist areas in Thailand, establishments have popped up hawking sweet noodles and bland curries to foreigners, perpetuating this myth.

None of this is to say that Thai-American food is bad. It’s just important to note the difference between the centuries-old cuisine of a country, and a new—dare we say—fusion of that food with American’s fondness for sugar and distaste for spice.

In the case of Pad Thai Kitchen, the name puts it all out there, so we know better than to go in expecting flash-fried ants or fire-roasted snake-head fish stuffed with lemongrass. Yet, we have been pleasantly surprised by touches that elevate Pad Thai Kitchen above your average noodle house. Kaffir lime leaf, an ambassador Thai spice, works its tasty way into some dishes here.

And the eponymous pad Thai isn’t half bad, as this kitchen has reined in, to some extent, the sweetness that has become rampant in the dish. Pumpkin curry is immensely popular, but we find it too one-dimensional.

All in all, we understand the appeal of this place. They do a better job than most at making the atmosphere chill, a place you’d want to linger in. There’s warm light, the buzz of people, and a certain hipness. This is nothing like the boring cafeteria-like rooms with royal accoutrements that you have come to expect from Thai-American. As such, the place is always packed, making it very lively. Servers flit about, deftly balancing too many plates of food.

But ultimately it’s Thai-American, no more. For real Thai food, go to Pok Pok.

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