The Thai restaurant industry in the Portland area is thriving. There are countless mouthwatering restaurants throughout the city, each one providing a unique experience with delicious food. As a vegetarian, each dish that I tried and reviewed does not include meat but rather tofu or vegetables. At each restaurant, I tried the dish Pad See Ew. Because there is such great variation in the spelling of this dish, I wrote the spelling used by each restaurant on their menu within each individual review.
Rice Thai Cookery
The first restaurant I tried was Rice Thai Cookery on Southeast Main Street in Milwaukie. Located in the heart of downtown Milwaukie, and only being 9 minutes away from La Salle, this restaurant is of prime location for many in our community.
I started my meal off with the Fresh Salad Rolls. The combined crunch of the bean sprouts and carrots, along with the unique flavor of a large basil leaf really made these rolls unforgettable. Truly the best salad rolls I have ever had. All of the ingredients were fresh and full of flavor, and each roll was perfectly handmade. Served with creamy peanut sauce that wasn’t too heavy, the two complimented each other excellently, and left me wanting more.
The Pad See Ew unfortunately did not live up to the salad rolls. The dish didn’t have a very vibrant flavor and wasn’t my favorite.
That being said, the spicy eggplant stir fry was outstanding. A wide variety of vegetables including eggplant, yellow onion, broccoli, and bell pepper was stir-fried in with tofu, chili paste, and their house sauce. The crunch from the yellow onion especially was perfect and really made the dish noteworthy as it combined the different textures and consistencies throughout the dish.
Tom Yum Thai Cuisine
Tom Yum Thai Cuisine provided a flavorful experience from their restaurant on Southeast Woodstock Boulevard. Every dish popped with flavor and provided nothing but good flavorful Thai food.
The salad rolls accompanied with peanut sauce were the perfect way to start the meal; the combination of the thick creamy sauce and the fresh and crisp salad rolls perfectly prepared my palette for the meal to come.
I then tried the Pad Se-Ew. This was the most flavorful dish out of the four that I tried. The broccoli in the dish was fresh and added a good crunch to the noodles. I also want to emphasize the sauce that Tom Yum used for this dish. The flavor made it pop as a dish and even though the ingredients seem relatively straightforward, the combination of flavors provides a complex experience for your mouth.
I also ordered Pad Thai. The dish was exemplary, vibrantly combining funky, sour, and sweet flavors on top of a base of wide rice noodles. This dish doesn’t provide many fresh vegetables, but alongside the other dishes I tried, this wasn’t a problem.
I then tried the yellow curry with a side of rice. The somewhat sweet sauce paired with a variety of vegetables was delicious, as the vegetables became infused with the sauce and made every bite rich with flavor.
Lastly, I had an order of sticky rice. The slightly sweet and chewy rice was absolutely delicious and was the perfect way to end my meal. It wrapped up the assortment of flavors throughout the meal and left a great taste in my mouth. I highly recommend it.
Pdx Thai Dining
Having opened in March of 2020, Pdx Thai Dining on Southeast Holgate Boulevard and 28th Avenue has had quite an abnormal opening year and a half. The restaurant offers excellent value and quality for its cost and provided an amazing experience that will definitely bring me back. I tried the Pad Se-Ew, Panang Curry, and Pad-Ped.
In order to switch things up, unlike in the past, I ordered the Pad Se-Ew with vegetables instead of tofu. This proved to be a remarkable decision and turned the dish into one full of numerous flavors and textures as a result of the wide variety of added vegetables. The dish on its own is always delicious, but with this slight switch, the dish became my favorite Thai food I had ever eaten.
The Pad-Ped was also a hit, with noticeably fresh vegetables, and the perfect balance of sweet and savory flavors throughout the dish. It was moderately spicy, which was a bit much for me, but for the average person, I think it would add a good kick and serve as an additional flavor for the dish.
The Panang Curry was the last dish I tried, and though made well, I wasn’t a huge fan. Coconut was the predominant flavor, and thus, I would only recommend this dish to those who greatly enjoy coconut. The dish was definitely on the sweeter side, and consisted mainly of green beans, but was also joined by bell peppers and basil leaves. The green beans were made flawlessly, not overcooked, and with the perfect level of crunch.
Farmhouse Kitchen Thai Cuisine
Farmhouse Kitchen Thai Cuisine is located on the corner of Southeast Hawthorne and 34th Avenue. The dine-in experience is unmatched, with colorful unique decorations scattering the restaurant and eccentric detailing throughout the restaurant. A few standout features of the restaurant include a black and yellow three-wheeled vehicle called a tuk-tuk by the entrance, and a vibrant blue wall protruding numerous repeated faucets.
The decor of the restaurant doesn’t stand alone, as the food matches the impeccable interior and leaves you wanting more. I tried the Herbal Rice Salad, Pad See You with tofu, and upon asking for a recommendation or special, received the Farmhouse Khao Soi with tofu. The three dishes were served beautifully, all with vibrant colors throughout each dish.
The Herbal Rice Salad was my favorite of the three, providing a unique mixture of textures and flavors that I have never experienced in any Thai food I have ever had before. Their iconic blue rice centers the dish, with toasted coconut, peanuts, shredded green mango, shallots, lemongrass, cilantro, sliced long beans, chili, and kaffir lime surrounding it, along with Tamarind dressing. You are prompted to “mix and enjoy!” The multitude of contrasting flavors and textures provided in this dish creates a blend of sweet, sour, spicy, and tangy flavors all blended together along with the crunchy, smooth, and chewy textures of the various ingredients.
The Pad See You was also a favorite, with the classic elements of the dish made to perfection with fresh flat rice noodles, cage-free eggs, carrots, and broccoli. The combination of sweet and salty flavors made for an appetizing experience, and the incorporation of fresh vegetables made the dish just that much better.
Lastly, I tried the Farmhouse Khao Soi with tofu. I had no prior knowledge about this dish and had never had anything like it. It is typically composed of slow-cooked boneless beef ribs in Northern Thai yellow curry paste and coconut milk, served with egg noodles, bean sprouts, shallots, pickled mustard greens, and condiments, although they replaced the beef with tofu in order to accommodate my vegetarianism. My own lack of knowledge of the dish led me to try it without success due to the high level of spice. Considering my low spice tolerance, this dish was overwhelmed by the heat, and I was unable to fully experience the assortment of flavors and textures I presume it provided. The bean sprouts and dry crunchy egg noodles both add a level of crunch to the dish that I found noteworthy, as yet again Farmhouse Kitchen Thai Cuisine exploited numerous textures and flavors in a combination that is unforgettable.
Overall, I recommend every one of these restaurants. I think that Farmhouse Thai Cuisine is worth the slightly longer car ride and extra expense if you’re really looking for the best Thai food in the Portland area, but also want to highlight Pdx Thai Dining for a restaurant that is truly a bang for your buck, and is the best value considering the price point.