Thai places always catch my eye. Just this year, I've made two trips to Thailand. In Korea, Thai restaurants are generally overpriced, Koreanized, and lacking a great deal of authenticity. While I don't find that Thai Noodle is a total deviation from this description, it does have some brightness to offer to the Thai dining scene. The first thing that struck me as inviting and appealing about Thai Noodle is the environment. It looks clean, simple, and honest.
I really dislike what Thai cuisine, or any "exotic" cuisine, has become in Korea. Thai food shouldn't be wildly expensive. The basic ingredients are for sale in any well-stocked supermarket, and they aren't expensive. Thai noodles cost about 1,000 won. I'm not expecting pad thai to cost 60 cents like it does in Thailand, but the high price tag that "foreign" cuisines command here are a bit ridiculous. I found the prices to be reasonable at Thai Noodle, but more so, the environment isn't pretentious. It gave off the same vibe I got eating from a local eatery in Thailand where one woman was manning her pot of chicken noodle soup or whatever.
The owner and sole chef/server at Thai Noodle is Korean and studied Thai cooking in Chiang Mai intensively for three months before deciding to open her little restaurant in Gyeongnidan. While three months isn't a long time, I found that she has the flavors down pretty well. Where she lacks is technique. For example, we ordered the pad thai. It's a good go-to dish to gauge any Thai restaurant.
Pad thai needs to be cooked over high heat on a pan or griddle with a wide surface area in order for the sauce to evaporate quickly so the flavors are left to adhere to the noodle. See the watery bits under the noodles? Not enough evaporation. Also, look at the noodles. They're white and slippery. The sauce and flavor didn't adhere correctly to the noodle. So, you're basically left with cooked noodles and sauce. Like spaghetti.
Regardless of faltering technique, the pad thai had great flavor, but was lacking in terms of measuring up to the authentically dirty, nasty (delicious) pad thai you get on the streets of Bangkok.
|Colorful and delicious.|
Their menu needs some work. I like for Thai restaurants to have the Thai name of the dish on the menu and not just an English description. It's like ordering rice with vegetables and meat in Korea - it could be bibimbap, bulgogi over rice, or a million other things. At Thai Noodle, the "stir-fried meat with noodles" could be anything. There is an endless combination of stir-fried meat with noodles. I also don't think having "meat" ambiguously sitting on the menu sounds very appetizing.
|I'm still not sure what "stir-fried meat with noodles" is supposed to be. |
It's like Pad See Ew with thinner noodles.
|Again with the white noodles with the sauce slipping right off.|
Finally, let's talk about the spring rolls. At first, the serving looked a bit scant, but then I just realized that the plate was just too big for the rolls. For 2,000 won, it's cheap, and tastes fine. Nothing spectacular. Filled with clear vermicelli noodles, mushrooms, cabbage, and onions.
Yongsan-gu, Itaewon-2-dong 210-68
Directions: From Noksapyeong Station, take exit 2. Walk straight until you reach the underpass. Use the underpass to cross over to the other side of the street. Exit left out of the underpass so you come out in from of Earl Sushi and Lazy Sue's. Make a right at the large intersection opposite Noxa to go up towards the Hyatt Hotel and Namsan Park. At the Paris Baguette intersection, veer right and keep walking up the hill towards Hyatt/Namsan Park. Thai Noodle will be on the right opposite Asian Tigers Realty.