Pad Thai Fai Ta Lu
This reinvented shop-house is home to perhaps Bangkok's smokiest pad Thai.
This review took place in Feb 2019 and is based on a visit to the restaurant without the restaurant's knowledge. For more on BK's review policy, click here.
Anyone with an on-point pad Thai radar will tell you that greatness is made in the wok. Real flames—intense, one foot high and licking the inside of the pan—are essential for imparting that rich, smoky flavor that the Khaosan sidewok masses have forgotten about. The smokiest of them all might well be Pad Thai Fa Ta Lu (literally: “Pad Thai through flames”), a discreet Old Town shop-house that’s been reinvented by Andy Yang, a Thai-American chef whose New York restaurant Rhong Tiam won a Michelin star.
Guests arrive to the sight of a downstairs fireshow from the kitchen’s overworked ring-burners. Above the action sits a dining room that feels more like a local dive bar with its strings of neon fairy lights and mismatched furnishings. Michelin, this ain’t, but Pad Thai Fa Ta Lu won Bib Gourmand recognition in the 2019 guide. Michelin tells readers that Andy’s pad Thai has been “jazzed up,” but that’s a bit misleading.
The recipe here is classic, only with an adherence to GMO-free ingredients and quality proteins that you rarely find on the street. Berkshire pork is the star of the menu, more commonly listed locally by its Japanese name kurobuta (literally “black pig”) and renowned for its high content of deliciously savory fat. Here it gets deep-fried into sinful chunks of sticky-crunchy moo krob or grilled on charcoal then sliced on tamarind-wood cutting boards.
The menu lists just four pad Thais that range in price from B75-185. Reviewers on Facebook will tell you that Pad Thai Fa Ta Lu is expensive. Ignore them. B75 is more than good value for one portion of these gooey glass noodles, rich with the natural sweetness of a well-balanced tamarind paste and deeply imparted with that smoky wok flavor.
More expensive plates from the pork neck to the grilled prawns justify their price with ample and high-quality proteins. We dined as a pair and left with a bill of just B500.
Our meal also included a side dish of confit grilled chicken for B160. Though moist and plump, we’ll admit to preferring the barbecued skin of regular street-food gai yang.
What our bill didn’t include was any beer. Pad Thai Fa Ta Lu’s drinks menu is completely teetotal for now, though they’ll happily let you bring in adult refreshments from the nearby 7-Eleven.