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Pad Thai at Aw Taw Kaw (Or Tor Kor) Market

Michael Babcock, April 4th, 2009

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Outside of Or Tor Kor Market

Kasma always gets a chuckle when people talk about Pad Thai as “the signature dish of Thai cuisine.” In Thailand it is  just one of many noodle dishes, available mostly as a street food or at noodle shops and not particularly popular dish amongst Thais. It’s mainly a fast food. Kasma does have a very good recipe for Pad Thai and teaches it in her Thai cooking classes.

Note: The official Thai spelling for this market is Or Tor Kor. This, unfortunately, leads most westerners to the wrong pronunciation. Aw Taw Kaw is closer to correct for pronouncing but less recognized; so I’ve used both interchangeably here.

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Aisle at Aw Taw Kaw Market

(Click on an image to see a larger version.)

The one place where I sometimes order Pad Thai for myself is at a stand at Or Tor Kor (or Aw Taw Kaw) Market (Talaat Or Tor Kor, in Thai) in Bangkok, which also happens to be one of our favorite markets in Thailand. Although Or Tor Kor is considered “high end” and the prices are higher than at other markets, the selection of food and the presentation makes it worth the extra few baht. I still find it very reasonable by United States standards. Our collection of Thailand market photos contains many pictures of this Aw Taw Kaw Market.

Pad Thai Stall at Aw Taw Kaw

Pad Thai Stall at Aw Taw Kaw

Or Tor Kor market is very near to the well-known Chatuchak Weekend Market. You can get there via the MRT subway – get off at the Kamphaengpetch Road station. The first picture above shows the outside of the market from the street. If you go on a weekend, you can also enjoy Chatuchak, with it’s estimated 8,000 vendors selling any and everything you can imagine. We usually go to Or Tor Kor on a weekday because it can get very crowded indeed on a weekend.

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Pad Thai Cook at Aw Taw Kaw Market

If you’re going to Aw Taw Kaw, eat lightly beforehand. As you browse the aisles you’ll see pre-cooked food such as grilled prawns, satay, sour sausage, shrimp cakes as well as numerous kanom (snacks) such as sticky rice and kanom krok (rice pancakes) and it will be hard to resist grazing. There are, however, numerous food stalls that cook food to order in the back of the market and many of them are worth a taste.

The stand with the delicious Pad Thai is back in the eating area towards the outside edge of the market. The third picture shows the stand with the stall number (11/40) visible in the background. I actually had taken and delivered pictures of the woman making the dish many times before I actually ordered the dish, though Kasma had been ordering it for her trip members for many years.

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Pad Thai Ready to Eat

Most Pad Thai recipes call for egg, usually (as in Kasma’s Pad Thai recipe) scrambled lightly. This woman’s adds eggs in a different way – she uses them to make a covering for the noodles in the center, sort of a Pad Thai omelette, if you will. Kasma tells me that this presentation is relatively common in Thailand, particularly when Pad Thai is served in a restaurant. In fact, there are as many different Pad Thai recipes as there are cooks. (Kasma’s article on The Spirit of Thai Cooking talks a bit about how Thai dishes can vary a great deal depending on the cook.) It’s served (as you can see to the left) with a banana blossom, some scallions (underneath), fresh bean sprouts and a lime. The lime is squeezed over the noodles and the fresh ingredients are eaten along with it.

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Pad Thai with Outer Egg Opened Up

As you can see, once you open up noodles it looks very delicious indeed. It bears little resemblance to some of the Pad Thai noodles you find in the states – it is savory and tasty and completely without Ketchup!

For more information about the origins of Pad Thai, check out Kasma’s Pad Thai Notes and Pointers.

One other dish that the same woman makes is an mussel omelette. It is also very tasty (see picture below).

We’ve since done a whole blog post on Or Tor Kor Market. Austin Bush has some photographs of Aw Taw Kaw Market that are worth a look.

Note: When asking for directions or taking a cab to Or Tor Kor, be sure to refer to it as Dtalaht Aw Taw Kaw – the usual spelling is talaat, meaning market, but dtalaht is closer to the actual sound in Thai. (See our Note on Thai Spelling & Pronunciation.)

If you are taking a cab, make sure that the driver takes you to the correct market. There is also an Aw Taw Kaw Market (Dtalaat Aw Taw Kaw) on Sukhumvit Soi 105 (Soi Lasalle, pronounced Soi “La-sahn”) – it is not as interesting a market.

Mussel Omelette

Mussel Omelette On the Griddle


Written by Michael Babcock, April 2009.

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17 Responses to “Pad Thai at Aw Taw Kaw (Or Tor Kor) Market”

  1. I like most tourist places in Thailand. It does not matter which part of Thailand I stay, usually have a good time. May be the only spots in which you can go on your own or with friends and family and have a good time. People are so wonderful. I really like Thai traditions and food.

  2. Sad to say that Pad Thai in the Philippines is expensive because it is served in restaurants, not in open places like these. But taste and texture is not par with an authentic one!

    It’s nice that I’ve found a Thai cooking classes link in your blog.

    Thanks!

  3. [...] Pad Thai at Aw Taw Kaw Market (31 March 2009 by Michael) [...]

  4. [...] on). We’ve already written about the stand that sells delicious pad Thai and mussel omelets (Pad Thai at Aw Taw Kaw Market). My other favorite dish is called (in Thai) Pad Gkaprao Bped – Basil Duck; it’s your basic [...]

  5. Thanks for sharing, great site and keep it up. I will be back!

  6. [...] One of our first blog posts was Pad Thai at Aw Taw Kaw Market. [...]

  7. What is the best brand of Thai Tea?

  8. I think that another oil that is often used in Thai cooking is palm oil — particularly for fried foods is the markets.

    • Michael Babcock says:

      You’re right: palm oil is used a lot in street food. And contrary to many people’s belief, it is a healthy oil. It makes a delicious, crispy fried chicken.

  9. [...] more on Aw Taw Kaw Market, see Michael’s blog entry Pad Thai at Aw Taw Kaw Market. For more on Durian (including photos), check out Kasma’s article on the website: Durian, [...]

  10. choua says:

    good pad thai

  11. HerbDish.com says:

    As we know Thailand is the land of smile and great food, there are variety and often seen on the street food. From the picture of PadThai it seem oily food and seem not healthy food. Somehow PadThai still contains essential herbs for prevent many diseases.

    • Michael Babcock says:

      It depends a lot on what oil is used to cook food. Traditionally people used only oils that they could render themselves, things such as duck fat, chicken fat or lard. All of those oils are actually higher in mono-unsaturated fats than any other kind and are very healthy for you. It’s the modern oils — things such as soy oil — that I think we need to be wary of.

      Another oil that is often used in Thai cooking is palm oil — particularly for fried foods is the markets.

      I agree that the Thai herbs are very healthy and healing.

  12. In Palms Springs and Seattle where I spend large amounts of time,
    this quality Pad Thai is not available.
    Sad!
    I suscribed to the Google Feed. This is cool.

  13. [...] Pad Thai at Aw Taw Kaw Market « Thai Food and Travel Blog [...]

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