Pad Thai restaurant is a small, white building with orange trim and a green roof, planted on the corner of Portsmouth Avenue and High Street in Exeter, New Hampshire. Pad Thai has been in business for several years, and used to be called Pan Thai. About once every couple of months I get takeout from this place on the way home. It is a nice change from the usual pizza, subs or Chinese takeout. I’ve found the food, for the most part, to be fresh and flavorful, and the prices to be reasonable. Friday, August 6, 2010 was one of those days when my husband called before I left work, and asked me to bring home takeout. “Get something different,” he said. This is not terribly easy to accomplish. My favorite options for “something different” are Pad Thai, Fresh Wave in Exeter (almost across the street from Pad Thai), and Ronaldo’s in North Hampton.
I made some choices from Pad Thai’s extensive menu before leaving work. The menu is varied and interesting, offering 16 different appetizers, four types of soups, several salads, and pages of entrees. Whoever put the menu together has a sense of humor. Some of the section titles and entree names are funny. The noodles section is headed, “Noodles Doodles,” and the fried rice section is called, “Fried Rice Fanatics.” The rice choices sound like race horse names: Hawaii Hi Five, Basil Angels, Mama’s Top Secret, and Baby Clams Champions, to name a few.
My order was ready as soon as I arrived, and rung up by a friendly cashier. The dining room of Pad Thai is very small, brightly painted, and decorated with a few artsy objects. It looks like a comfortable place for a few small people to sit and enjoy a small meal. It is definitely not the right spot to take a large family or football team out to dinner. It appears much of the restaurant’s business comes from takeout orders.
My order that night included the Thai dumplings, steamed ($5.95). They were stuffed with pork and served with a flavorful ginger sauce. I also chose “Lady in the Forest” ($11.95), which is boiled chicken with vegetables in peanut sauce. This dish was delicious and rich. My husband commented, “It’s covered with peanut butter!” I can only imagine the calorie count.
Rice does not come with entrees, but may be purchased for a small price. An individual order of jasmine rice is $1.00, brown rice is $1.50, and sticky rice is $2.50. I chose sticky rice, which was a very hard rectangle of rice wrapped in plastic wrap. It was slightly bigger than a deck of cards, and inedible. The rice did not break apart, and had a rubber consistency.
I also ordered a green curry dish with chicken ($12,95). It was hard to decide among yellow, red, and green curry, not to mention “massamun” and “panang” curry. Items on the menu are coded with chili peppers, one for mild, two for medium, and three for hot. The green curry was marked with two chili peppers, and was very spicy, though pleasantly so.
The “deluxe” pad thai ($10.95) rounded out our meal. The “deluxe” pad thai (as opposed to the regular or crispy versions) is a described as a “spectacular healthy version” of pad thai. It is a heaping foil container of cellophane noodles with eggs, chicken, shrimp, scallions, bean sprouts, and ground peanuts. It was of better quality than the pad thai I have had at local Chinese restaurants. Still, it could have tasted fresher.
As always, we enjoyed the food very much, and will be back again and again to try different menu items with curious names.
Pad Thai is open Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. On Friday and Saturday it is open from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday hours are from 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. The restaurant serves beer and wine. Also, gift certificates are available. The complete menu can be viewed on the restaurant’s website, http://padthaiexeter.com/default.aspx.