Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Thai & Chinese Express - Irvine

Pad Thai is a fine dish. But to me the Thai noodle to eat is pad see ew. In my humble opinion, it is the truest expression of a stir fried noodle as any. Forget about chow mein or even chow fun.

The components of a pad see ew is dead simple: sweet soy sauce, beef, some sort of green vegetable but preferably something with a crisp stalk like broccoli, and then rice noodle ribbons rendered to silk. Pad see ew should have just the slightest chew, a little sticky, a little tacky; but it needs to ultimately slide into your gullet as if it were lubricated in KY jelly.

Everything else is execution and depends on the talents of the wok jockey charged to make your dish. There was once a food court vendor called Zesty Thai in the now defunct Palm Court Cafe in Irvine that used to do a pad see ew of unequaled splendor--a masterpiece that bested even Buena Park's Thai Nakorn and Vegas's Lotus of Siam--but they've been gone for years now.

Now I think I've found a close enough replacement. Like Zesty Thai, Thai & Chinese Express is a food court denizen, and it prepares its pad see ew to order. Eaten seconds from the blazing heat of the wok, the noodles have that wok-seared flavor and soul that lasts only a few fleeting minutes. Plus, it's also got the most vegetables I've seen in a pad see ew, which isn't a bad thing--I could always use more vegetables...especially when I order the fried bananas for dessert, a banana deep fried in egg roll skin, which is all it needs to be.

Thai & Chinese Express
2540 Main St. Unit J
Irvine, CA 92614
(949) 724-1813

Pizzeria Mozza - Newport Beach


At 10:16 AM, Anonymous Steve Martin said...

Sounds like a winner!

Thank you.

Just a heads-up...there is a new Vietnamese restaurant in San Clemente (furthest South in the O.C.).

I haven't tried it yet as I just discovered it about 10 minutes ago.

It's called Pho Tranh Binh. It's off the 5 at Pico behind the post office in the Pico Plaza (formerly Bad to the Bone BBQ )

At 10:39 AM, Blogger Wonginator said...

After visiting this food court for years because of Chicago's Best being in the same food court, I just tried this place last week for the first time, too, and I ordered the pad see ew also, which is my favorite of the Thai dishes because it is pretty similar to beef chow fun, which is among my favorite Chinese dishes.

And yes, that was me in last week's review commenting on the beef chow fun in your Sky Express post. Something changed on the posting setup where my identity was listed as Unknown until I changed it.

At this place, they didn't ask for any spice level, so there was no spiciness to it, which is how I prefer it. But when I go to Thai Spice, they always ask me what spice level I want, which I usually get mild, and it's got a fair amount of kick to it. Once I asked for moderate spice, and my mouth was tingling pretty heavily throughout the meal, but not quite burning. I can't imagine what the hot level is like.

But yeah, I've found a new place to get my pad see ew at
Thai & Chinese Express, like you have. :-)

At 1:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really? KY?
I know it's food porn, but...
I love wide rice noodles fried up to a chewy texture.


At 7:03 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


A few pho shops have just opened up here too, just in time for the winter! Slurp!

And I had no idea Bad to the Bone closed up...


Yes, I, too, prefer my pad see ew not spicy. I do eat it with a ready supply of Sriracha though, dabbing each forkful with the paste. Next time, if I can wean myself off of their excellent pad see ew, I might do their pad ke mow, which promises to be hot!


HEHE on the KY bit! A part of me put it in because just curious if people are still reading! I'm glad you are, and paying attention!

At 12:30 PM, Blogger Mark said...

Great tip! Stopped there for lunch today. It was awesome.

At 9:58 AM, Blogger Diamond Dog said...

Do you have experience with putting things down your throat lubricated in KY in order to make the analogy you wrote about?

Not that there is anything wrong with that.....just learning new things about our beloved Elmo all the time!

Diamond Dog - Censored by the OC Weekly

At 12:52 PM, Anonymous stephanie s said...

their pad kee mao is awesome! definitely try it next time, you will be in spice heaven!

At 5:08 PM, Blogger freedb1 said...

Check out this great cookbook that I found. All healthy foods.


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