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Food Odyssey

Pad Thai at Thip Samai, Bangkok Oct 16, 2018

Pad Thai at Thip Samai, Bangkok

Rating: star star star star star 2 stars (out of 5)
Hours: 5:00pm - 2:00am
Price Range: B60-B300
Location: Thip Samai PadThai Restaurant, 313 315 Maha Chai Rd, Khwaeng Samran Rat, Khet Phra Nakhon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10200, Bangkok, Thailand

Thip Samai Restaurant
At least on the internet, the runaway pad thai bestseller is Thip Samai Restaurant. One site even stated that 9 out of 10 locals will mention Thip Samai as the pad thai place of choice. One site described it as 'legendary' while another claimed that it 'should be on everyone's list of the best local restaurants'. There was simply too much hype riding on this pad thai place.

Birthday Treat
It was my birthday and I had been craving for pad thai the last couple of days. There is none in my neighborhood so a trip to Thip Samai was in order. I planned my bus route for this fabled pad thai place - I just love the Bangkok Via Bus app, Google Maps and Maps.Me for my bus travels. Without them, I would have to be reliant on the more expensive BTS trains.

Exploring the Neighborhood
I didn't know they open at 5. I arrived 4pm and had to wait for an hour. I explored a little bit of the neighborhood in the meantime. Just a few steps away from Thip Samai is another famous restaurant, Raan Jay Fai. They serve crab omelette at B1,500 a pop and there's even a 2-hour waiting time! It's insane in this area. Because of this pricing, everything in the immediate area is also slightly more expensive compared to the rest of Bangkok.

The Queue
Around 4:30pm, a line started to form. I was within the first 10 people. The organization was spot-on! They had a maitre d' who showed us to our seats - one table per group, even if you are a 1-person group. I met a Korean tourist while lining up, Harim and we took a table together, but we were separated into 2 tables because we wanted separate bills. The restaurant extended deeper into to the rear of the shophouse. It was comfortably air-conditioned with lots of uniformed staff who knew what they were doing. The process was like a well-oiled machinery. All tables immediately got full before the first dish was served. The line outside got longer. The menu consisted of several types of pad thai. I simply ordered the cheapest on the menu - B60. It is my position that a restaurant's food quality should be measured by the cheapest on it's menu. If they can do that well, then there won't be any problem with the pricier items. I would have ordered the orange juice, but at B160, I declined.

Outdoor Kitchen
It wasn't just an open kitchen, it was a fully open alfresco kitchen out on the forefront of the restaurant in full view of the public. Yes, it was brilliant in bringing eye-candy factor to the spectacle with all the flame flaring up from the heated woks. I cannot imagine a more inviting way to lure dinner guests in. But they didn't really rely on walk-ins. People came from all over Bangkok to line-up and spend big on their pad thai.

Pad Thai at Thip Samai, Bangkok
busy bodies preparing pad thai at Thip Samai

Chow Time
I was disappointed when my dish finally came. The serving was so small. It looked like an appetizer pad thai instead of a meal. Compared to the usual pad thai, this one looked a little pale. I was looking at the other pad thais ordered by the adjacent tables. Some pad thais were wrapped in thin egg omelette and others were marginally more, often with a giant jumbo prawn on top - that must be the B300 pad thai on the menu. My order had a few ingredients and a small shrimp but that didn't matter. I was after the taste. So, how was it?

Verdict...hmmm...let me put it this way. If I had ordered that same dish for B35 along an obscure street as a nondescript street pad thai, it would not wow me. In fact, it would not even get my attention. I'm not saying it's bad - no, it's not bad, but neither can I say it's good. It was as average as average gets. If it were an obscure street pad thai at B35, I would give it 3 stars (out of 5). However, since I paid B70 for it (the menu said B60 but I didn't bother to ask why B10 more since none could speak English), given its small portion and the wait, I would have to give it lower than 3 - thus the 2 stars. Curious if it was just me, I asked Harim - she ordered 2 dishes and her pad thai had the big shrimp on top. She said that despite 2 dishes, it didn't really fill her up. And taste? She said so-so. I'm no pad thai expert, but the best one I've had so far was actually in Battambang, Cambodia. To summarize, Thip Samai did not live up to the hype. It's was not worth the trip, not worth the lining up and not worth the money.

I noticed that in Bangkok, when a restaurant gets famous, the price is jacked-up. Ok, understandable. But just in contrast, when I was in Penang, Malaysia, there were so many fabled restaurants some still on push carts where people took long lines - the prices remained competitive and the taste really lived-up to its hype. I would have to say that on a food scale, my top 3 cities are Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City and Penang with Penang keeping the crown.

--- TheLoneRider
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Reader Comments:

Joy TanJoy Philippines
(Oct 20, 2018) AJ, based on Gigit's blog, pad thai is all hype in bangkok... we never really go to eat one that's yummy and priced reasonably

(Oct 20, 2018) Joy, just a qualification. "pad thai is all hype in bangkok" No, just in Thip Samai. I'm sure there is very good pad thai to be had in Bangkok. I just haven't tried the good ones yet.

(Oct 20, 2018) ok copy that

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Bangkok Blogs by TheLoneRider
  1. Bangkok in Pictures Mar 17-21, 2021
  2. Bangkok for Passport Renewal Mar 17-21, 2021
  3. Bangkok with $19 Dec 8-11, 2018
  4. 30 Days - Goodbye Bangkok Nov 8, 2018
  5. Revolving Peoplescape of Bangkok Oct 8 - Nov 8, 2018
  6. Food and Friendship at Dalad Vietnamese Oct 8 - Nov 8, 2018
  7. Movie Review: First Reformed (2017) Nov 6, 2018
  8. Doing Online Work at The Work Loft Nov 5, 2018
  9. Window Seat [His Precious] Nov 1, 2018
  10. Surreal Odyssey at Bangkok Float Center Oct 29/31, 2018
  11. Bangkok Halloween with Rinna and Steve Oct 27, 2018
  12. Push-Ups Oct 22/24, 2018
  13. Pad Thai at Thip Samai, Bangkok Oct 16, 2018
  14. Birthday Walkabout Oct 16, 2018
  15. Coming to Terms with Donations Oct 14, 2018
  16. Feelin' Da Blues at Adhere the 13th Blues Bar Oct 12, 2018
  17. Visiting the Grand Palace of Thailand Oct 12, 2018
  18. A Web Mandate in Bangkok Oct 8, 2018
  19. 29 Days in Bangkok: Thank You and Goodbye Aug 27 - Sep 24, 2018
  20. Calling the Bangkok Police Sep 23, 2018
  21. Movie Review: Mindfulness and Murder (2011) Sep 22, 2018
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  23. Flow Yoga with Teacher Kea at Now's Fitness Sep 18, 2018
  24. Movie Review: Under Construction (2015) Sep 15, 2018
  25. Walking Tour of Little India Sep 15, 2018
  26. Vinyasa Yoga with Teacher That at Now's Fitness Sep 14, 2018
  27. Abs Workout with Teacher San at Now's Fitness Sep 13, 2018
  28. Vinyasa Yoga with Teacher That at Now's Fitness Sep 14, 2018
  29. Abs Workout with Teacher San at Now's Fitness Sep 13, 2018
  30. Exercise Ball Workout with Teacher Bie at Now's Fitness Sep 11, 2018
  31. Exploring the Amphawa Floating Market Sep 9, 2018
  32. Exploring the Tree-Engulfed Wat Bang Kung Temple Sep 9, 2018
  33. Parting of the Maeklong Railway Market with a Passing Train Sep 9, 2018
  34. Exploring Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Sep 9, 2018
  35. Horse Racing at the The Royal Bangkok Sports Club Sep 8, 2018
  36. Fight Class with Teacher San at Now's Fitness Sep 7, 2018
  37. Exploring the Bangkok Art Book Fair 2018 Sep 6, 2018
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  42. Outside Looking In Aug 29, 2018
  43. Back in Bangkok After 5 Weeks Aug 27, 2018
  44. 15 Days in Bangkok July 10-24, 2018
  45. Peoplescape: Bangkok July 10-24, 2018
  46. Hatha and Yantra Yoga Fusion July 10-24, 2018
  47. Revisiting Terminal 21 Mall, Bangkok July 23, 2018
  48. Rope Skipping, 4mins Full-on July 22, 2018
  49. Sunday Visit to Chatuchak Weekend Market July 17, 2018
  50. Fork on the Road: Abundance or Poverty by Choice? July 16, 2018
  51. Loving Bangkok All Over Again Feb 22-26, 2016
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  56. Bangkok Revisited 3 Oct 6-20, 2014
  57. A First Timer in Bangkok December 31, 2005 - January 3, 2006

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hotels in Bangkok HOTEL

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restaurant in Bangkok RESTAURANT

Dalad Vietnamese Restaurant Dalad Vietnamese Restaurant - N7 BTS train stop, authentic Vietnamese cuisine, clean & hygienic, fresh green leafy vegetables
195 Soi Pradipat 19, Pradipat Road, Phayathai

spa and wellness in Bangkok SPA / WELLNESS

Bangkok Float Center Bangkok Float Center - experience a surreal sensory immersion as you effortlessly float on 10 inches of water, 5-stars from 524 Tripadvisor reviews
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gyms on On Nut, Bangkok GYM| gyms on On Nut, Bangkok YOGA

Now's Fitness Bangkok - gym equipment, yoga, Muay Thai, boxing, fitness trainer, cafe, healthy food
726 Soi On Nut 14 Rd, Khwaeng Suan Luang, Khet Suan Luang, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10250

Useful Information

Bangkok Cost Index

as of Sep 4, 2018: US$1 = Baht 32 = Php 53

  • Bht 60 sm, 90 big one mug draft beer
  • Bht 13 1.5 liter drinking water
  • Bht 220 one hour massage
  • Bht 60-80 muesli breakfast
  • Bht 60-80 tom yum soup in modest eatery
  • Bht 25-30 coffee
  • Bht 30-50 pad thai
  • Bht 350 Adventure Hostel lodging
  • Bht 20-30/load laundry, coin operated machine
  • Bht 7 bus ride
Transport Maps of Bangkok
  1. Chao Phraya Express, MRT, BTS, Khlong boats, Airport Link
  2. Bus Routes: 1-14
  3. Bus Routes: 15-30
  4. Bus Routes: 32-49
  5. Bus Routes: 50-70
  6. Bus Routes: 71-88
  7. Bus Routes: 501-516
  8. individual bus routes
Bangkok to Chiang Mai by Train from Bang Sue Train Station

For more train info: Bangkok to Chiang Mai trains - departing from Hua Lamphong - MRT (Bangkok)

(I'm using Bang Sue as a starting point because I was closer to it, but you may be closer to the Hua Lamphong station)

  1. take the MRT train to Bang Sue Station. Take the #1 Exit to the north provincial trains
  2. Proceed to Counter 2. You will see an information booth, a train schedule chart and the ticket counter. Choose the train and pay at the ticket counter.
  3. daily train schedule:
    • 8:48am - #7 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 7:30pm, not sleeper, B638
    • 2:06pm - #109 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 4:05am, sleeper
    • 6:31pm - #9 Premium Train, arrive Chiang Mai 7:15am, sleeper, B938 upper deck, B1038 lower deck
    • 7:56pm - #13 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 8:40am, sleeper, B768 upper deck, B838 lower deck
    • 10:22pm - #51 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 12:10pm, sleeper, 3rd class B270 (non sleeper), 2nd class B438, B728 upper deck, B798 lower deck

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