Thipsamai: Is it the best Pad Thai in Bangkok, Thailand?

Thipsamai Restaurant is one of the restaurants known for its Pad Thai in Bangkok, Thailand. Its legendary Pad Thai has appeared in an episode of NatGeo’s Street Food Around the World.

Since then, I promised myself that I would try it once I visited Bangkok. There was something that captivated me about the restaurant’s signature dish. And I was eager to find out if all he said was true.

Origins of Pad Thai

pad thai
Photo by John Aledia on Unsplash

Pad Thai has become the most popular Thai dish worldwide, making it synonymous with Thailand, aside from temples, hot and humid weather, and spicy food.

This stir-fried rice noodle dish is one of the country’s national dishes, making it ubiquitous.  Different variations are available not just in Thailand but in Thai restaurants worldwide.

It was popularized by a Prime Minister in the late 1930s to promote nationalism and nutrition. Yet, its origins are said to be Chinese, who invented noodles and stir-fry.

Said to be Thailand’s first fast food, this dish aims to represent the flavors and essence of Thai cuisine: sweet, salty, and sour. There have been many variations of the recipe but its main ingredients are rice noodles, eggs, tofu slices, tamarind, fish sauce, dried shrimp, shallots, red chili pepper, and palm sugar. It is also often served with chopped peanuts, lime wedges, bean sprouts, and coriander leaves.

The search for the best Pad Thai in Bangkok

thip samai bangkok thailand original restaurant
Facade of Thipsamai restaurant (taken in 2015)

Unfortunately, the first time I set foot in Bangkok, our jam-packed schedule did not allow me to search for it. So the second time I visited Bangkok while backpacking alone, I took my time to hunt it down.

After finally getting an address online, I tried going on a Tuesday, which was a mistake. I got there before 5 PM so I waited by the 7/11 across the street. 5 PM rolled around and still, there was no sign of activity at the restaurant. So I asked a local to confirm what I was thinking all along. Turns out, it was closed that day and I didn’t know why.

So I came back the next day, after spending the whole afternoon at the Golden Mount which is just a few blocks away from the location of Thip Samai. I got there around 4:30 PM and already the restaurant was bustling, with the staff clad in gray and orange uniforms getting ready for the operating hours. A few foreigners waiting nearby decided to make a queue so I crossed the street and lined up.

The sound of metal spatulas hitting the woks is like music to the ears, with the delicious smell of Pad Thai wafting up our noses and enticing us with the dish we’ll soon be able to finally taste. By opening, there was already quite a line which filled up the whole dining area immediately when the staff finally let people in.

The waiting game at Thip Samai

thipsamai pad thai bangkok

I took a table for myself and observed. It seems I was the only solo diner this time. The walls are decorated with the accolades the restaurant received in its nearly 50 years. The takeaway station was already busy, with the cooks getting ready for the barrage of orders.

The restaurant has improved since they filmed that NatGeo episode. But the sequence remains to be like that of an efficient manufacturing assembly. Whipped from one station to the next until the finished product gets picked up by the waiting servers.

The waitresses finally distributed the menu and took orders. Of course, I would be getting their famed Pad Thai cooked over charcoal. This lends a scorched and smoky flavor to the dish. I didn’t expect though that there would be quite a few choices.

So I ordered the one I remembered that Ishai Golan ate on the show – their Pad Thai delicately wrapped in egg with prawns and cooked with shrimp oil. Also known as Pad Thai Haw Kai Goong Sot or Superb Pad Thai.

I also ordered their orange juice which seems to be a hit for both foreigners and locals. It is sweet and pulpy, exactly how I like my OJ. The best thing about it is that there are no preservatives. Although, the price is quite steep for a small bottle.

After my order was passed on to the cooks, I passed the time by taking a look around inside the dining area. The diners were composed of 90% foreigners, with the locals dominating the takeaway. After 25 minutes, and a lot of stomach growls, my order finally came!

Superb Pad Thai

Admittedly, I have eaten a lot of Pad Thai in Bangkok before this. From food courts to street food and floating markets. They taste the same but still somehow different. I didn’t expect anything because usually famous restaurants are almost always just hyped. But Thip Samai proved me wrong.

It was everything I wanted and more. I loved their version of Pad Thai wrapped in egg, instead of the usual. Opening the egg wrapper to get to the noodles was akin to opening a gift you have been waiting for.

I also liked that their version is not as dry as the ones found on the streets, and their noodles are not as chewy compared to the previous ones I tried. Their rice noodles are said to be sun-dried and sourced from the province of Chanthaburi. I was also thankful that there was a bottle of chopped peanuts on the table. I got to put as many peanuts as I wanted!

Just writing this and looking at the picture makes my mouth water and reminisce about the burst of flavors from that first bite. Served with lime and extra vegetables, the egg-covered concoction is just enough for one person.

It’s pricier than the regular Padthai you can get in Bangkok but you’ll get the bang for your buck. Unfortunately, this is not a restaurant where you can linger after eating since there’s usually a long queue.

The restaurant also offers food products for cooking like Shrimp Fat in Oil, Rice Noodles, and Pad Thai Sauce.

My cravings were satisfied! The wait was worth it. And I have a good feeling that I will be returning the next time I’m in Bangkok.


How to eat Superb Padthai

  • Peel off the egg
  • Taste before adding lime juice, condiments and grounded peanuts as you like
  • Add chives, bean sprouts, banana blossom as needed
  • Mix together then enjoy!

Thipsamai Padthai Pratoopee Menu

source: https://thipsamai.com/

Padthai

Padthai with dried shrimp and egg90 baht
Vegetarian Padthai105 baht
Padthai with shrimp oil and egg105 baht
Padthai with shrimp oil, fresh deep sea prawns, and wrapped with egg (Original | Superb Padthai)150 baht
Padthai with shrimp oil, prawns and egg150 baht
Padthai with shrimp oil, prawns and egg (without noodles)165 baht
Padthai Song-Kreung (Signature)
Padthai with shrimp oil, fresh deep-sea prawns, crabmeat, sliced squid, and sliced mango (Sen – Chan or glass noodle)
500 baht
Padthai with shrimp oil, Big Tiger Prawns (available seasonally), and wrapped with egg (Recommended)700 baht

Drinks

Mineral water15 baht
Ice2 baht
Icy Coconut Juice in Cup40 baht
Icy Coconut Juice in Bag50 baht
Fresh Orange Juice (small bottle)99 baht
Fresh Orange Juice (big bottle)160 baht
  • Prices do not include service charges and tax
  • Menu and prices may change without notice
  • Menu and prices differ in other branches

Thipsamai Restaurant info:

  • Thipsamai Padthai Pratoopee
  • Since 1939
  • Known for: Padthai Sen-Chan (with shrimp oil and prawns wrapped in egg)
  • Main location (original branch): 313-315 Mahachai Road, Samranrat, Pranakorn, Bangkok, 10200 (Google Maps location)
    • Open Daily: 9:00 am to 12:00 am, Close every Tuesday
  • Other branches:
    • Putamonthon Sai 4: 99/11 Moo 6 Phutthamonthon Sai 4 Road, Tumbon Salaya, Amphoe Phutthamonthon, Chang Wat Nakhon Pathom 73170
    • King Power Complex: Khwaeng Thanon Phaya Thai, Khet Ratchathewi, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10400
    • ICONSIAM: 299 ICONSIAM Department Store, 6th floor, R602, R603 Charoen Nakhon Rd., Khlong Ton Sai, Khlong San District
    • SIAM PARAGON: Siam Paragon Department Store, G Floor Paragon Food Hall
    • Siam Royal International: Siam Royal International Co., Ltd. 99/99 Moo. 2 Phetkasem Road, Aomyai, Sampran, Nakhon Path0m 73160
  • Social media: Instagram

Learn how to cook Pad Thai by taking a cooking class in Bangkok:

Klook.com

Go on a food tour in Bangkok:

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Thailand travel resources:


Originally published on November 27, 2015 (updated in 2024)

Darlene is currently on the road again and traveling full-time after being an expat/overseas Filipino worker in Qatar. She's rediscovering what it means to travel solo and in her 30s while working on her blogs.