Pad Thai Kitchen

Pad Thai Kitchen Brief Review
Overall Service Food Quality Atmosphere Vegan Options
7.25 8 7 6 8
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)

Pad Thai Woon Sen - Vegan

Spring rolls

Vegetarian Pad Thai with Tofu

Vegetarian Drunken Noodles with Tofu

Picture 003

Fried Tofu appetizer

Picture 002

*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!


20 responses to “Pad Thai Kitchen

  1. When you said “no fish sauce, oyster sauce, shrimp paste” did they say that the vegetarian items already lacked those, or must I request that every time?

  2. Thanks for the tip on Monsoon, zac!

    illin – at this particular restaurant, they did not write down anything specific about my ‘no’s’ on the check and I assume they were not technically included in the vegetarian entrees anyway.

    however, being that answers and preparations change, the stumptown vegans repeatedly ask.

  3. I love this place.

    My partner and I eat there all the time with our 6 month old. The servers invariably will come over, take our daughter and carry her around the restaurant for a few minutes. They love her. It’s great; like having a baby sitter for a few minutes so I can enjoy my pad thai.

  4. Yeah, the to-go’s are a godsend. The lunch to-gos are enough for two meals. The dinners are close to three, its INSANE.

    Also, the owners are cool as fuck. Whenever I come home from vacation, this is where is I instantly head ( like today…).

  5. Hi stumptown vegans! I’m going to Portland for the first time today, I’ll be there until the 9th! What, say, 2 restaurant would you say are MUSTS for a vegan’s first time there? Besides, of course, Sip, which I already know I’m going to..thanks!

  6. Hi Eleanor –

    Are you the same Eleanor who commented on jess’ blog, Get Sconed! ? ; )

    My top recommendations would be Nutshell (keep in mind the foie gras controversy – the owners of Nutshell, not the Nutshell management, own a restaurant that serves foie gras, though it is not technically on the menu) and Blossoming Lotus..with a close third going to Proper Eats/Vita Cafe.. it depends on what you’re looking for!

    FYI, a while back we wrote a ‘Top 10 Best Things We’ve Eaten in Portland’ for Herbivore Magazine – they were at:
    The Farm Cafe*, Junior’s, Blossoming Lotus, Hush Hush, Nutshell, Flavourspot, Backspace, Sweet Pea Bakery*, Proper Eats and Vita Cafe.

    Let us know if you have any questions!


  7. Eleanor –
    I suggest Flavorspot (a food cart) and Sweetpea Baking Company.

    Check out other food carts as well because they are often over looked – Sip, Potato Champion, Los Gorditos…

  8. make sure to call beforehand to check that they have the vegan sausage again if you’re going to Flavorspot specifically for the Vegan Sausage Maple Waffle (which, really, is the only reason i go). it’s such a bummer if they don’t. (they were using gardenburger, which is having some quality control difficulties and stopped producing stuff for awhile)

    yum, pad thai kitchen!

  9. hey guys! Thanks for your restaurant recs! (and yes, i’m the same eleanor who commented on jess’ blog!). I ended up going to blossoming lotus, vita, junior’s, nutshell, SIP!!, sweet pea/the mini mall, and Kinta (which my uncle recommended). Nutshell was obviously my favorite..breads and salts! exotic combinations! lavender soda! really chill waiter/atmosphere!! haha but sip was adorable as well..i got a pb and choc with newman’s o’s! 🙂 anyways, i had a GREAT time in portland, i loved the city, and my uncle showed me all the cool places and special sustainability aspects of the city..i really think i want to go there for grad school, and then i won’t have to be jealous of you guys anymore..if you ever come to AZ, go to Green and Mandala Tearoom!!!

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  11. Careful. After eating here several times (the food IS really good), I made my usual ” no fish sauce, no shrimp paste etc.” request while ordering and was told I’d better order something else then, because “we don’t really know what’s in the chili paste”. The waitress advised me not to order anything with chili paste in it, which excludes my favorite dish and in fact most of the menu… now I can’t go back 😦

  12. JAX –

    When ordering the Cashew Veggies with tofu, which has chili paste listed in it’s description, I was told that this particular paste was not vegan – but that because I specified vegan, they could leave it out and make a vegan version.

    I have also been assured that all the sauces on the table, which include a roasted chili sauce, are vegan.

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