Pad Thai is a world-renowned dish, but we are more of a big fan of the spicy & fragrance Pad Kee Mao. Between Pad Thai vs Pad Kee Mao, what are the similarities and differences? Learn more with us and decide which one should be your favorite Thai stir fried noodles!
Table of Contents
Both dishes names start with “Pad” which means stir-fried in Thai. As the names imply, both dishes are stir-fried Thai noodle dishes. Pad Thai and Pad Kee Mao also both contain a certain degree of flexibility when it comes to what protein can be used in the dish. However, the most common/famous one tends to be its seafood variation. The same flexibility also applies to noodle types. However, Pad Thai is dominated by “Chan” noodles while Pad Kee Mao commonly uses big noodles or Thai instant noodles. That is really about it when it comes to similarities.
The two dishes have a lot of differences. While common noodles and main protein options are covered above, there are still many differences.
Vegetables: Pad Kee Mao tends to involve more cooked vegetables than Pad Thai. A bowl of Pad Kee Mao may have many vegetables ranging from mushrooms, carrots, baby corn, or even kale. However, Pad Thai has limited vegetables and is often limited to chives. However, Pad Thai is usually served with raw vegetables like bean sprouts, raw mango, and banana blossom.
Other protein: Pad Thai tend to have other sources of protein outside of its main protein like dried shrimp and tofu.
Herbs: Pad Thai is not known for herbs, but Pad Kee Mao is full of them. While there is no standard formula, Pad Kee Mao tends to have basil leaves, peppercorn, chili, kaffir limes and finger roots.
Seasoning and sauce: Pad Kee Mao mostly makes use of oyster sauce and light soy sauce whereas Pad Thai uses palm sugar, fish sauce and tamarind sauce (+ adding lime before eating for sour taste).
Taste: Based on the above, you can already guess that the tastes of the two dishes are different in taste. Pad Kee Mao is spicy and offers an herbal fragrance whereas Pad Thai has a rich, sweet taste with a tangy, sourness provided by fresh lime at the end.
Pad Thai vs Pad Kee Mao calories
We are using recipes from Phol Food Mania as a reference. Pad Thai has between 600 to 700 Calories while Pad Kee Mao has 460 to 700 Calories per serving by our estimate. The calories tend to vary depending on ingredients and serving size.
Pad Thai vs Pad Kee Mao calories sources also differ:
- “Chan” noodle contains higher calories count than other types of noodle
- Seasoning and ingredients used in Pad Thai contain more high calorie components like sugar and peanut
- Pad Kee Mao tends to be more protein heavy, for example Pad Kee Mao with fattier pork could contain higher calories than shrimp Pad Thai!
Read more on Pad Thai calories! or Pad Thai vs Lo Mein: difference, origin, taste and more
Pad Thai vs Pad Kee Mao: who's the winner?
So Pad Thai vs Pad Kee Mao? Pad Kee Mao a.k.a drunken noodle is the winner for us because of its rich herbal taste and fragrance. We are also a big fan of big rice noodles, which has a very special noodle texture that we love. Many of our friends however love Pad Thai for its richness in taste and its unique texture especially when it incorporates raw vegetables (bean sprouts, raw mango, banana blossoms) that are crunchy. Peanuts that are added as a topping will also add to the texture of the food.
All in all, you should try both of these dishes if you haven’t!
Learn more about Thailand with us!