Restaurant: Thai Boat
City: San Luis Obispo, CA

I am now 205 miles away from my home, visiting the sister in SLO for a few days! I always try to eat at Thai Boat whenever I’m in town; it’s my favorite restaurant in SLO. It’s also perhaps the best Asian restaurant in SLO; there are very few Asian restaurants here, unlike the SF Bay Area. Thai Boat is a family owned restaurant, and closes randomly when the family travels back to Thailand. They also only open M-F, 11am-2pm and 4:30pm-8pm.

pad thai

Pan fried small rice noodles with one choice of meat (chicken, pork, beef, tofu, veggie, shrimp, or squid), egg, bean sprouts, and ground peanut. We chose beef as our meat. There’s a scoop of rice on the plate because when we ordered, the waiter said my sister looked really hungry and gave us a free portion of rice on the side! :D

Did you know that pad Thai (ผัดไทย) did not originate in Thailand?

The following excerpt about the origins behind Pad Thai is taken from Gastronomica 9:1.

For many westerners, pad Thai—or, more accurately, kway tow pad Thai (stir-fried rice noodles Thai-style)—symbolizes Thai cooking, thanks in large part to the Thai government’s ongoing efforts to introduce the country’s food to the rest of the world.

If Westerners believe that pad Thai symbolizes Thai cooking, many Thais agree. “Whenever we try Thai food,” says Nick Srisawat, a native of Thailand who now oversees a large Thai restaurant group in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, “we try pad Thai first, because that is a way to judge how good a restaurant is. That’s true all over the world—except in Thailand.” Because pad Thai is a specialty dish in Thailand, many restaurants choose not to compete with the street-food vendors, who make and serve only pad Thai all day long and thus have perfected the recipe.

Pad Thai is really nothing more than a regular noodle dish, one that is not even native to Thailand. Its full name, kway teow pad Thai, hints at its possible Chinese origins; kway teow, in Chinese, refers to rice noodles. It is likely that some early version of the dish came to Thailand with settlers crossing from southern China, who brought their own recipe for fried rice noodles. Certainly the cooking style—stir-frying—is Chinese, and most food historians credit the Chinese with the invention of noodles. And, as Chombhala Chareonying, former Minister-Counsellor at the Royal Thai Embassy in Washington, D.C., points out, Thai food is basically Indo-Chinese in origin. The cooked meats and vegetables in pad Thai resemble dishes prepared by the Cantonese and Tae Chiew (Chao Zhou in Mandarin) from China’s eastern Guangdong province. Nevertheless, the flavors and textures are pure Thai.

[Edit on 12.30.2014] I took a video of a chef making pad thai during a Songkran Festival back in 2011, at Wat Buddhanusorn in Fremont, California. They had a food court with various stands selling different types of Thai dishes. Since 2013, they no longer sell food to the public, or to anyone, because their permit only allows them to operate as a church, not a restaurant.