Pad Thai is the go-to dish for most diners at a Thai restaurant. And there's a good reason for that – Pad Thai is downright delicious, which is exactly why it's stuck around for all this time. The ingredients are simple, cheap, and nutritious without being overpowering or guilt-ridden. Let's be real, we've never had a bad Pad Thai, but we've definitely had some memorable ones over the years, which is why we're sharing the best of the best with you!
At the end of the day, you can't beat the classic recipe for Pad Thai – meaning the following dishes do indeed contain a lot of the same ingredients, but it's the love, passion, and quality going into each of these Pad Thai dishes that make these ones stand out from the rest.
Big Fish Eatery
Constantly popping up on our radar, Big Fish Eatery have certainly made a name for themselves with gorgeous plates of food and a warm welcoming attitude. The Penrose eatery is hidden off the main street, allowing for their indoor-outdoor space to create a certain type of serenity – and the perfect setting to enjoy their Pad Thai. Firstly, opt between their Pad Thai Chicken, Prawns, or Tofu, and then dig into a heaping plate (seriously, we had to get a doggy-bag, and it was even better the next day!) of beans, egg, rice noodles, tofu, crispy shallots, crushed peanuts, house-made tamarind sauce. The house-made features really make it an indulgent dish, made with the passion we were talking about.
One of our all-time favourite homely restaurants, Mulan's head chef James Balakrishnan is dedicated to creating each sauce and spice blend in-house – and their Pad Thai is no exception. Their Northern Pad Thai takes rice noodles, egg, mung beans, garlic chives, roasted peanuts and tamarind and tops it off with your choice of chicken, prawns, or a vegetarian mix of tofu, beans, and mixed peppers. You can truly taste the experience and love going into Mulan's dishes, as each recipe draws on James' experience growing up in Penang.
If you're looking for an upscale dining experience with the chance to order one of your favourite comfort dishes, SOHO Thai Kitchen is the spot. The Takapuna restaurant sits in the Goodside precinct of the North Shore, accumulating friendly neighbours such as The Grange and Fantail & Turtle. SOHO's Pad Thai comes with a seasonal pick of vegetables, peanuts, chives, bean sprouts, and a bean curd – with the option to add prawns. Refined and sophisticated, SOHO nails it every time.
Nestled into the bustling Ponsonby Road, popular BYO joint Po Brothers serves up one of the tastiest Pad Thai's you'll find. Aside from being a lovely date night spot Sunday - Thursday, Po Brothers pours plenty of flavour and passion into their dishes, with one of our (many) favourites being their Pad Thai. The noodles arrive hot with egg, crushed peanuts, fresh bean sprouts and chives, with a balance of Thai seasoning served with lemon wedge for the DIY finishing touch. Grab a few other mains and sides, and complete your night with a bottle of your favourite red. Voila!
White + Wong's
Ask any Aucklander (or anyone who's travelled to Queenstown), you can always rely on White + Wong's. With two venues in Auckland City, their divine Pad Thai is accessible as ever. Their Pad Thai keeps it simple, following a traditional lineup of ingredients including Pad Thai noodles, egg, bean sprouts, peanuts, coriander, and a squeeze of lime to bring it all together. Choose your protein (chicken, prawns, or fried tofu for a vegetarian option) and you'll be presented with a steaming plate of infallible Pad Thai, just how you like it. Pairing perfectly with their Long Island ice tea and waterfront & rooftop views.
On the go? The Taste is ready to prepare your Pad Thai and run it to you - piping hot and delicious. The takeaway joint has been providing the people of Devonport with mouth-watering lashings of Thai cuisine for a while now, and we think it's the perfect time to share our little secret. The Pad Thai is served up in the form of crispy fried rice noodles with a lightly scrambled egg, bean sprouts, crushed peanuts and a slightly sweet tamarind sauce, add on the protein of your choice and you're set. The servings are fab, as are the entree dishes (we can't go past curry puffs, especially when they're this good). And the best part? You get to enjoy it on the comfort of your own couch.
Not only does Kiss Kiss provide one of the best Asian Fusion atmospheres in the city, they also dish up a bloody good Pad Thai – amongst everything else on the menu. Their Phat Thai Thamadaa tosses thin rice noodles in with rendered pork fat with tamarind, fish sauce, palm sugar, peanuts, tofu, egg, garlic, chives and bean sprouts, only to be taken up another level with your choice of free-range chicken, prawn, or chicken + prawn. Kiss Kiss serves it up gluten-free, with the option to make it vegetarian or vegan too. It's all-round delicious, served up as a very generous portion. We say order it for the table and mix in a few of their killer side dishes for a memorable dinner you'll be thinking about for days to come. Pro Tip: Add on a sizeable portion of their satay sauce for $3 to make it extra peanut-ty.
Chu Thai Eatery
Another Ponsonby spot making it onto the list – but hear us out, Chu Thai is worth the awful parking situation that plagues Grey Lynn. Once you're inside the comfort of Chu Thai's walls, it's all about the food. Never missing, the Pad Thai is just one of the stellar items on the menu, but let's put that on the back-burner while we discuss their Pad Thai Noodles. Coming in at one of the cheapest dishes on this list, you'll receive a perfect portion of rice noodles, egg, bean sprout, spring onion, & crushed peanut, and your choice of chicken or tofu. The flavour packed into each noodle shines through, even when you're a bottle deep into the BYO portion of the night. Chu Thai is your friendly neighbourhood Thai bistro, with reasonable prices for sublime dishes.
While there's plenty of vegan Pad Thai options out there, no one does vegan dishes better than Khu Khu – Ponsonby's very own vegan-dedicated eatery. Everything on the menu is fully vegan ( as well as mainly gluten-free and allergen-free options, just ask!), but its the Tempeh Pad Thai that has our hearts. The dish is constructed around the familiar saucy sweet noodles of Pad Thai we all know and love, topped with crunchy peanuts and protein-packed tempeh. It's that easy, and it's that delicious. Paired with their fresh rolls and perhaps a Penang Curry, you're good to go.
It's always the littlest eateries that pack the biggest punch – At Bangkok is living proof. Situated in a quaint spot in Kingsland central, the Thai restaurant serves their dishes up fast, and they serve them up bloody good. Of course it's the Pad Thai we're drawn to, made with soft rice noodles stir-fried with egg, tofu, crushed peanut, fresh bean sprouts and spring onion, their special Thai seasoning, and a lemon wedge as usual. Taking the simple (and traditional) route, At Bangkok hit the nail on the head when it comes to the unique flavours of Thai street vendors.
To finish our ultimate guide of Pad Thai in Auckland, we simply had to include Wok Express – the Thai chain taking over Auckland with their absolutely divine stir-fried dishes. Not only is Wok Express cheap as chips, as well as probably pretty close to your place considering their wide range of venues, they also cater extensively to vegan diets, keto diets, and gluten-free diets while still maintaining enough flavour to be one of our favourite go-to dishes, don't ask us how they do it! Their Pad Thai is available with chicken, prawns, or tofu, as well as with the classic rice noodles or with low-carb noodles for a keto choice. You can really have it your way at Wok Express.