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If you ask someone in Bangkok what is the most stereotypical street food dish, then Pad Kaprao (often spelt krprow) will regularly come at the top of this list. If you ask people where to get the best Pad Kaprao in Bangkok many people would simply point to their local vendor. Pad Kaprao (Stir fry with holy basil) epitomises Thai street food and for many if you add a fried egg on top it becomes the perfect Thai comfort dish (despite potentially being loaded with chilli).
In the last few years Pad Kaprao has become a bit of a trend with several restaurants / food outlets opening which focus exclusively on this dish. Possibly the most notable of all was the opening of Phed Mark, which is a collaboration between Mark Weins (possibly the most famous food travel blogger in the world) and some of his chef and foodie friends.
In light of this trend we decided to do a taste test and decide where is the the best Pad Kaprao in Bangkok. We selected 6 vendors (including our local food court) and ordered either chicken or beef or both if available. We chose to test without adding a fried egg (Pad Kaprao Khai Dao).
And who are the judges? Our team (plus 3 local aunties). Actually quite a diverse group of 12 judges (11 Thais and 1 Brit), some of who can eat very spicy and some who cannot!
Ka Prow Khun Phor
Both the chicken and beef versions came it the top 2. Overall there was no debate. A great balance. A good amount of chili (too spicy for some) and a good amount of basil. Not too dry and not to moist. The perfect Thai comfort dish!
Prow is just round the corner from our office and we have eaten here a lot and the results justified this. What we love about Prow is the variety. You can chose from a range of meats or fish. These included premium cut beef. You can chose the level of spiciness from 1-5! Level 5 is extremely spicy! Basically there is a adaption for everyone and it all tastes great!
By default the spicy level is set on high! It has a great flavor but maybe just a little to unique from the stereotype to win this competition. It is a very dry, peppery and herby Pad Kaprao. For those who can take strong flavours you will love it. For those who just want you familiar comfort food you may be disappointed.
Our Local Food Court
For many Pad Kaprao is a comfort dish that you get on your local street corner. It is not intended to be a masterpiece or a unique flavor. You expect to get it the way you know it and for many, their local vendor cooks the best. It was interesting that the 3 Aunts (Local ladies above the age of 70) overall agreed the one from the “no name” vendor in the local food court was the best!
The other others we tested were Moom Gapaw and Siew Lang.
Siew Lang is on the edge of The Flower Market and has a reputation for massive “worker sized” portions. While it is quite tasty, it is more sauce based and with less basil and chilli than you may expect in the perfect pad kaprao – but this makes it easy to eat in large portions.
Moom Gapaw is a relatively new chain of restaurants and honestly was a massive disappointment when you compare to the others.
Kaprow Khun Phor may have come out as the overall winner but it is a bold move for us to say it is the best in Bangkok, unless we have tasted every vendor! Even then it is very dependent on taste preference. Some people simply do not like it if it is too dry while others prefer mild. It us very likely we will do it again and compare our winner to 5 more vendors.
However, what we can confidently say is that there is no more of an authentic experience than finding a local street vendor and sitting on colourful plastic chairs at a metal folding table and ordering Pad Kaprao Khai Dao!
Let us know which ones we should try next!
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