As fancy as some try to make pad thai, at its core it is still Thai street food. In that motherland, a plate of noodle deliciousness* costs about $1 USD. And therefore, no matter how much I am craving it/ethnic food as I am sequestered in Switzerland … I refuse, REFUSE to pay 34 CHF ($36 USD!!!!!) for a plate of pad thai!!!
I knew cost of living (specifically food) is significantly higher than America – even compared to NYC. An entree at most restaurants is around 30 Swiss Francs. However, I assumed Asian restaurants would be cheaper (like how it is in the US). I assumed wrong.
The other night I solo-dined in Basel (which I’m used to doing in the US, but it’s quite uncommon over here and I know I was making others feel weird). I heard there were a few decent Thai restaurants so I found a place online with respectable reviews – Thai Family Suds Ard. It was even in a kind of sketchy area of town (as sketchy as Basel/Switzerland can get I guess, which is not), and I thought that was an omen the food would be good. I thought wrong.
Well, to be fair, the egg roll appetizer was surprisingly tasty! Good amount of meat filling and flavorful. They reminded me of Mama N’s infamous ones (and then I remembered she started her “cooking career” at a Vietnamese restaurant in Switzerland during college). A criticism was that the wrapper was quite thick/over-fried in some areas. (At home, Mama N always used the red and yellow brand Wei Chuan spring roll shells to get her perfectly crisp rolls.)
The rolls came with an artistic, though mediocre, side salad. Btw, over here people like to add corn in their salads. I see it all the time.
Even though I REALLY wanted pad thai, I just could not bring myself to order a $30+ plate. So I settled on a house special curry with rice that was also $30+. It was forgettable.
What was clever though was how entrees were served – on top of a tea candle so that food stayed really hot!
Still not worth $30+.
The worst part of the meal though was the “Thai iced tea.” I made a rookie traveler mistake by assuming a common phrase in one country meant the same in another, and I did not clarify what this restaurant’s version of “Thai iced tea” was. I expected Thai tea with condensed/evaporated milk. I received tea over ice.
horrible luck too … that evening the restaurant had “special” tea that the waitress was excited to serve me.
It was vanilla-flavored iced tea. YUCK!
Oh well. Another dining adventure under my belt, albeit a failed one. Though maybe I’ll go back just for those egg rolls!
Until next time,
Thai Family Suds Ard – Drahtzugstrasse 32, 4057 Basel, Switzerland; Tel : 041 – (0)61 681 40 45
* Some people argue that pad thai is trite – like ordering a PB&J at an American restaurant – but I like it and it is often how I judge the quality of a Thai restaurant. Generally, if they can’t get the pad thai right, my faith in their ability to get more complex dishes right dwindles.