I’d heard that Sukhothai was famous for it’s noodle soup dish, but I never realized that it was also well known for its unique and tasty Pad Thai! Normally when Anna and I order Pad Thai in Bangkok there’s always a small mound of dried shrimp and fried tofu squares left over. But this was a very different experience, and we left after thoroughly cleaning our plates.
During our weekend getaway to Sukhothai we ate at many places nearby, but there really wasn’t anything that really impressed us. It was good food, but it didn’t knock our socks off. That is until we discovered a little roadside restaurant Ploy Champu Kitchen. We’d been biking around all the more remote historical ruins site that we hadn’t covered the previous day during our organized bike tour. We were hot, sweaty, and hungry. We were rounding the bend towards the road that leads to the Historical Park entrance when we discovered a row of roadside restaurants that hadn’t been open previously (it was a major Buddhist holiday for two days prior). Eager to try something a little less “touristy”, we dismounted our bikes at the very first place that welcomed us.
Maybe it was the fact that we were having an ice-cold Leo beer (after not being able to purchase alcohol for 2 days due to the holiday) or their food really was THAT good; but I’m thinking that with the flow of Thai diners that soon swarmed in after our arrival their food really was THAT good!
Along with our two large Leo Beers we each also ordered a bowl of Sukhothai Noodle Soup and an order of Pad Thai to share. Sukhothai Noodle soup has a very unique broth. It has a nice meaty pork broth, but also a creamy sweetness from the palm sugar that is mixed in. There’s also a slight hint of clove or cinnamon–I honestly couldn’t place it. The noodles are just like the rice noodles found in Vietnamese pho. It came with several pork balls which were nice and springy and very flavorful and bits of pork which really didn’t have a lot of flavor but added a nice texture with the noodles. Also included in the soup is crushed peanuts, herbs, and chopped long green beans (which seemed to be added to many of the dishes we ate in Sukhothai). I added the tiniest bit of red pepper flakes (less than 10 flakes total) from the condiment tray on the table and it brought the heat up on the soup quickly. One could really hurt themselves if they’re not judicious with the application of the chili condiment!
The surprise hit was the Pad Thai. It’s so different from all of the other Pad Thai dishes we’ve had. First, they do not add the dried shrimp or bits of fried tofu. Second, they use palm sugar instead of regular sugar which gives it a nice creaminess and mild sweetness. Finally, the noodles are different. They’re thinner and I’m pretty sure they are the same rice noodles from the soup–just fried and cooked al dente (they’re chewier). The noodles are fried with egg, bean sprouts, and long green bean (of course!), a wedge of lime, a mound of crushed peanuts, and chopped spring onion are on the side to mix in.
I’m always amazed when we get away from Bangkok just how inexpensive food can be. The entire meal with the large beers was 320 baht ($9.32). It would have been much cheaper without the beers, but c’mon! It was all absolutely delicious and our best meal during our stay in Sukhothai!
Along the main road which leads directly to the ticketing entrance to the Sukhothai Historical Park are many tourist friendly restaurants (translation: the food is decent but you might not be getting the authentic cuisine while paying a higher price for it). If you follow the road as it loops around the park you will find more local places and at the end of these places you will find Ploy Chompu Kitchen. It’s worth the extra steps/bicycle peddling to get there!
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