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In the battle for pad thai dominance, Angel's reigns supreme

In this food tasting experiment, three different chicken pad thai dishes from three downtown restaurants were tried. Several categories featuring common elements of each dish were created to judge the differences between each resaturant.
Pad Thai from Angel's Thai Cafe

Pad Thai from Angel's Thai Cafe /Ryan Yuenger

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Cost/ Extras

Angel's Thai Cafe- Just over $7 with no extra items.

XO Asian Cuisine - Just over $7; comes with two crab rangoons and a spring roll

Bangkok Taste - Just over $8 with no extra items.

Pad Thai from XO Asian Cuisine

Pad Thai from XO Asian Cuisine /Ryan Yuenger

Pad Thai from Bangkok Taste

Pad Thai from Bangkok Taste /Ryan Yuenger

Three downtown restaurants, XO Asian Cuisine, Bangkok Taste and Angel's Thai Cafe, each offer pad thai for lunch. This traditional Thai dish traditionally consists of stir-fried rice noodles with eggs, fish sauce, tamarind juice and red chili peppers. At each restaurant, there is a choice of having vegetables in your dish or a number of meats, including chicken.

XO Asian Cuisine serves Chinese, Japanese and Thai food, while the other two restaurants specialize solely in Thai. Each restaurant offers the chance to order your pad thai as spicy as you want. They also include green onion, peanuts and a lemon wedge. The dishes were ordered as similarly as possible, with chicken and medium spice, in order to have a controlled tasting experiment where all of the similar elements could be compared by dividing them into categories. 


Sauce is the most important component of any pad thai dish. The flavor from the sauce works its way into the other ingredients while being cooked, and continues to do so until the dish has been completely gobbled down.

The first thing that sticks out about the XO sauce is its red color, which is surprising for a fish based sauce. The sauce here is overwhelming in that it feels heavy and oily, and underwhelming because the only thing it tastes like is a spicy, chili paste with no depth of flavor.

The sauce in the Angel’s pad thai is a light, clear sauce with equal parts tang, sweetness, and spiciness. There is enough to keep the whole dish flavorful, and it absorbs into each component during cooking.

Bangkok Taste’s sauce is light and flavorful as well, though not as sweet as the Angel’s sauce. The issue here is that there isn’t enough sauce to go around. After a short amount of time, the noodles begin to stick together because there isn’t enough sauce to keep them happy and free.


Noodles are the main ingredient of substance in pad thai. The noodles in the XO pad thai are wide rice noodles. To say that these noodles are overcooked is an understatement. They absorb the flavor, but are cooked so thoroughly they turn to mush as soon as you bite into them.

The Angel’s noodles are skinny rice noodles that are cooked enough to absorb the flavors of the sauce, but not so much that they lose their form when you bite into them. The noodles from Bangkok Taste are identical to the Angel’s noodles, and are cooked just as well.


The XO chicken is clearly breast meat, thinly sliced and tender. The meat is not overcooked, and takes on what flavor there is. It is disappointing, though, to have good chicken go to waste because of the unsuccessful other elements of the dish.

The Angel’s chicken is tender and flavorful, although there were a couple pieces that were fatty, chewy and somewhat unpleasant. You can taste the tang and spice from the sauce in each bite of chicken more so than the other two dishes. The chicken in the Bangkok Taste pad thai was slightly dry, but tasted great and was high quality. It absorbs some of the flavor from the sauce and works well with the other components of the dish. 

Lemon and Peanut

The lemon wedge provided with each pad thai is a necessity. In the Angel’s and Bangkok Taste dishes, the lemon provides a sweet and sour element that contrasts the tang of the fish sauce and spice of the red pepper. In the XO pad thai, the lemon provides much needed flavor to this otherwise bland dish.

The peanuts in the Angel’s pad thai appear to be incorporated throughout the dish, while the peanuts in the XO and Bangkok Taste are used as a garnish on top of the dish. Angel’s using the peanuts in the cooking of the dish allows the flavor to be distributed evenly, and the nut adds a nice complement to the sweetness of the fish sauce and the spiciness of the chili pepper. 


The XO pad thai has none of the contrast of sweet, tangy and spicy that the other two pad thai dishes have and is easily the most disappointing pad thai. The competition is close between the Bangkok Taste and Angel’s pad thai, and both are enjoyable. However, as time passed and the food turned to leftovers, a clear champion emerged.

For this eater, the state of leftovers is one of the most important parts of stir-fried food because it gives the flavors more time to marry. Because the restaurants cook the dishes so fast, there is not enough time for each element of the dish to fully mingle with one another. As leftovers, the Bangkok taste noodles began to stick together even more and started to dry out a bit, while the Angel’s noodles remained happy, swimming in a little pool of the clear sauce.

In this battle, the leftovers were the difference between Angel's and Bangkok Taste, both of which were delicious throughout. Angel’s Thai Café's leftovers and sauce, however, put that dish just ahead of Bangkok taste and proved itself worthy of the pad thai of downtown crown.

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