|Pad Thai Kitchen Brief Review|
|Overall||Service||Food Quality||Atmosphere||Vegan Options|
|Location: 2309 SE Belmont St, Portland, OR 97214|
|Hours: lunch & dinner||Times Visited: 2|
Our friend Karla of Veganshizzle has been talking up the vegan-friendly Thai food at Pad Thai Kitchen for a couple years now. I never tried it when I lived in the neighborhood with my attention going to the vegan-friendly but now-closed Golden Jade for Chinese food (which is now a Mai Thai). Our readers should be confident that the Stumptown Vegans are very wary of Thai that’s not from Vege Thai – we’ve been tricked by even ‘vegetarian’ marked entrees that turned fishy. We know there’s a cultural distinction that’s not clear enough, and we hopefully haven’t ever purposely been screwed, but we have a mini inquisition for servers when dining at non-vegetarian Asian restaurants.
With the Shizzle’s assurance* and another round of “No fish sauce, oyster sauce or shrimp paste, I can’t eat them” delicious Thai food was mine once again. Both servers I’ve had have been very friendly and assuring and didn’t look at me like a crazy person. Vegetarian entrees are $8.50 across the board, and include what you’d expect on a Thai menu: curries**, stir fries and noodle dishes. There is no faux meat, but there is nicely fried and sliced tofu. It’s basic, no frills Thai food, and that’s a big deal, at least to me. It’s vegan friendly no frills Thai food in SE Portland! This makes me even happier with recent lackluster meals at that old favorite Vege Thai, which is under new management.
Appetizers are quickly fried and are a just bit more money than I’d like to pay when splitting with friends, ranging from $5-6. The spring rolls are filled with typical shredded veggies, mostly cabbage, and are served with a simple sweet and sour sauce. The fried tofu was served with the same sauce, and tasted just like what it was – tofu cooked in oil. The sweet and sour was a little too sweet and sour up against the plain tofu, a peanut sauce would have worked better. I wasn’t craving sweet and sour tofu as an appetizer.
On my first visit I ordered the obligatory Pad Thai ($8.50), minus the eggs. Certainly order the ‘vegetarian’ choice, but ask for tofu if you want it. There is no extra charge, but vegetarian will simply bring vegetables and who doesn’t want fried tofu in their Thai food? What crazy vegan do you know? The Pad Thai is basically a heaping pile of thin rice noodles tossed in a predictably tangy sauce, with fresh bean sprouts, shredded carrot, cabbage, onion, a few sauteed broccoli florets, sliced, fried tofu and a side of lime. No surprises there. The vegetables are pleasantly crisp and the fresh bean sprouts and carrots are served on top so you can mix them into the dish yourself. There’s soy sauce, Sricihi, and roasted chili sauce on each table for going wild; I did, and I don’t regret it. Rumor is that to go portions of Pad Thai are even larger than what’s on the plate pictured, and the same price. This meal provided ample leftovers that reheated nicely with a splash of water and hot sauce for lunch the next day.
Another classic Thai dish, Drunken Noodles, or Pad Kee Mow, was a considerably spicier (even ordered medium) but again, comfortably predictable experience. It was greasier and loaded with more vegetables, flavor, and bang for my buck. It was speckled with fresh basil and I didn’t reach for any condiments. Sadly, the leftover noodles were too drenched with spice for my taste, but there was still a good amount. It’s still great to know that a $8.50 meal, especially a dinner, can feed you more than once.
Pad Thai Kitchen provides both indoor and outdoor seating. The outdoor seating is on picnic tables besides Christmas lights – charmingly casual for a relaxing dinner on SE Belmont with friends, splitting vegan friendly Thai food. Indoors the mood is still casual yet could easily make for a dinner date with a bit more atmosphere than other informal restaurants. With Thai restaurants all over Portland, the Stumptown Vegans would like to think there’s vegan friendly Thai food in your neighborhood, but if not, it exists here and is affordable.
Pad Thai Woon Sen with Tofu and Vegetables (Glass Noodles)
Vegetarian Pad Thai with Tofu
Vegetarian Drunken Noodles with Tofu
Fried Tofu appetizer
*This was not doubting a fellow vegan. As the Stumptown Vegans have learned, it is best to keep asking! Servers and ingredients change, as do answers. Case in point, the Thai Peacock incident.
**It’s important to note that while fish sauce and whatnot can be requested out of curries, the curry paste itself many not be vegan. It’s a matter of asking and trusting or not. Have you heard something different? Let us know!