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Nom Nom Nom – Review: Pad Kee Mao

This week will be a battle of Thai food. As of late, I’ve been eating a lot of Thai food, so I’ve decided to take one of my most favorite Thai dishes — Pad Kee Mao — and compare it at two popular Thai restaurants in town, Dok Bua in Brookline, MA and Pad Thai Cafe in the Back Bay.

Dok Bua Thai Kitchen Restaurant
411 Harvard St.
Brookline, MA 02446

Review Date: August 2010
Website: http://www.dokbua-thai.com/

Pad Thai Cafe
1116 Boylston St.
Boston, MA 02115

Review Date: August 2010
Website: http://www.padthaicafe.com/

For those of you who don’t know and have never had Pad Kee Mao before:

Pad Kee Mao is just pan-fried rice noodle topped with basil, tomato, onion, green peppers and chili paste. It usually comes with a choice of meat: chicken or pork; beef, duck, or seafood. But the main characteristic of it is it’s SPICY!

So, first at Dok Bua, this place got pretty good reviews, from Yelp and Zagat for example, for having the “best Thai food” in town. It’s a medium-sized place; got lots of tables and even a big table if you got a large party. It is located on Harvard St. right in the Brookline area, in between the Coolidge Corner area and the area on Harvard St. where all the bars are and college kids hang out. Parking is pretty much street parking but since it’s in a lesser busy area, it’s not too difficult to find a spot.

Here, I had ordered the Pad Kee Mao with beef. It is not bad. For some reason, the rice noodles wasn’t as smooth as I had expected when I put them in my mouth. The beef was kinda chewy, so perhaps it was just a tad bit overcooked. But overall, it was spicy. Not too spicy, just a bit spicy (well, at least to my tastes). Besides that, it had the right taste of fresh basil in it (oh how I love the taste and smell of fresh basil nom nom nom).

The other place I had tried this at was Pad Thai Cafe, over on Boylston St., in the Back Bay area of Boston. This place is much smaller than at Dok Bua. It is probably 1/3 the size? No big tables for that big party but you can always put together several of their little small tables together if need be; and they also have booths too. Now, as for the parking there, it is ALL street parking, but compared to the parking at the first place, it is TOUGH to find a spot close to around here, since this is a way more busy area than in Brookline. As a result, this place is probably frequented by walking tourists, college students, and people who work around this area (which is how I found this place out a couple of years ago).

As for their Pad Kee Mao, I had ordered it with chicken this time. The rice noodles at this place felt a bit smoother when I put them in my mouth, which probably means that they are oilier (?), which also is fine by me. This one still has that strong taste of fresh basil too. The chicken was okay. It wasn’t as tough and chewy as the beef for the first one had been. The meat was done right for this one. But the big difference here is this dish was spicier than the first. It was probably because they had left the slices of green chili peppers with the seeds included in so that’s what attributed to the spiciness. And if you’re ever brave enough and decide to pop one of these slices in your mouth, seeds included, like I did, then you’ll know how HOT it gets. Believe you me, your mouth will literally feel like it’s burning and be numb in just a matter of seconds. Afterwards, I had to rush and fumble opening a can of Coke® just to cool down my mouth. It was a little effective in lessening the burning but my mouth was still numb after that. And then with every bite afterwards, I can hardly taste my food anymore; it just tasted hot and I have to take a sip of soda with every bite of food. So, if you love hot and spicy food, the Pad Kee Mao at Pad Thai Cafe is for you.

Money: $$ (out of 4) for both places

Good date place? Yes, most definitely I would bring a date here to both places… just not at the same time 😉

Grade: A for both places

Would I return? (Yay or nay): Of course yay. I did give “A’s” to both places didn’t I? Duh. In fact, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been to both places since I’ve been there so many.

And the winner is: for the best Pad Kee Mao of both of these 2 places (in my opinion)… I have to give it to Pad Thai Cafe, mostly for the fact that theirs was wayyy more spicy than at Dok Bua and I just loveee really spicy Thai food now.



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