When it comes to our favourite Thai food, pad ka prao tops our list. Yes, tom yum goong is sassily good and pad thai is super comforting thanks to its lusciously delicious sauce. But when done right, the meat and holy basil stir-fry gives a burst of umami that’s hard to compete with. What you need to know is that pad kra prao, like pizza and chocolate chip cookies, is very personal. Everyone has their own categories to define what a good pad kra prao should be and taste like. Some like it speckled with tonnes of bird’s eye chillies, some like it dry and some like it watery with oyster sauce.
But when the dish is by far the non-negotiable part of the menu in most street stalls to grade-A Thai restaurants, it’s nearly impossible to cover all the spots that serve legit, crave-worthy pad ka prao. But to keep you posted on the best places to get the best eats in town, we’ve curated a roundup of eateries we editors always go back to for this meat-on-rice dish. Scroll down to see which one on the list would match up to your pad ka prao standard.
Rarb by Escapade – Kankanit Wichiantanon’s pick.
Pad Kra Prao with Fried Egg for the Thais is a staple that always makes a downright satisfying breakfast, lunch or dinner. The one served at Rarb by Escapade, the cool cocktail bar slash restaurant focusing on Isaan fare, in particular, is my absolute favourite. It’s plated on an enamel bowl, just like the one you’d find at your grandma’s. If you like your holy basil stir-fried dish dried and flavour-packed instead of watery, this place has got just the thing to offer. Topped with the crispy-edged fried egg which is a typical topping for most Thai dishes, the venue totally nails this Thai classic dish.
Rarb by Escapade, 49 Phra Arthit Road, Bangkok, +6681 406 3773
Open: Mon-Sun, 12-9:30 pm.
EASY buddy – Karn Chatikavanij’s pick
Karn likes to have choices when she eats. And people who eat at EASY buddy know this haunt is not exactly humble when it comes to its extensive pad kra prao-focused menu. Although every dish is basically based on the same sauce and recipe, the venue does offer a variety of carbs and proteins – think rice, sticky rice, quinoa, noodle, salmon fillet, pork tenderloin, ribeye and sirloin – just so you can recreate the pad ka prao of your dreams. Try their uniquely delicious Holy Basil Fried Sticky Rice with Crispy Minced Beef and Marinated Sirloin (THB 210) – since it’s not usual to use sticky rice in pad ka prao and they totally make it work.
EASY Buddy, 92/5 North Sathorn Road, Silom, Bangkok, +6665 535 9319
Open: Mon-Sat, 11 am-8:30 pm.
Live Lounge BKK – Catherine Napalai Faulder’s pick
Obviously, Live Lounge BKK is dedicated to building a community upon art and live performances – think mini-concerts and open mics. But one thing that might not be as equally obvious is that the music bar also devotes itself fully on serving good food. The establishment is not playing around with the quality of their Thai fare. Our Managing Editor slash part-time poet, Catherine, loves to indulge her love of music here whilst gorging on her favourite bowl of pad ka prao paired with the bar’s tasty clear soup with tofu, vegetables and glass noodles.
Live Lounge BKK, 10/47 Trendy Building, Sukumvit Soi 13, Bangkok, +662 168 7335
Open: Sun-Thu, 5 pm-1 am; Fri-Sat, 5 pm- 2 am.
all Six To Twelve Café & Social Bar – Lisa Gries
Our Drinks Editor, Lisa Gries, loves her drinks and there’s no doubt about that when you read her articles. But other than savouring good drinks, she, like most of us, loves good comfort food. So when she is not out enjoying a drink in sleek bars, you’ll often find her at concept cafes around town with one of them being all Six To Twelve Café & Social Bar where she often – if not always – gets her usual of drip coffee and drool-inducing pad ka prao. According to Lisa, this is by far the best place to get stir-fried Thai basil pork in Bangkok.
all Six To Twelve Café & Social Bar, 1533/8 Lat Krabang-On Nut, Bangkok, +6663 480 8888
Open: Mon-Sun, 6-12 am.
Kub Kao’ Kub Pla – Alisha Pawa’s pick.
Every Tuesday, our Branded Content Creator, Alisha has a ritual of eating only vegetarian meals. And the place where she loves to get her veggie-centred craving fix is usually here at Kub Kao’ Kub Pla where she would always opt for the scrumptious Mushroom Ka Prao (THB 180). It’s hearty and unapologetically spicy. The dish also runs about the size of normal pad ka prao dish so it keeps her satisfyingly full despite being just a veggie-only meal.
Kub Kao’ Kub Pla, Empire Tower, Sathorn, Bangkok, +66 2 670 1799 (conveniently you can find it at the malls throughout Bangkok),
Open: Mon-Sun, 10 am-8 pm.