Call me a basic bitch, but I really enjoy a traditional Pad Thai.
I know I should be exploring other types of dishes like clay pot noodles or basil squid, but how often do you actually get a good Pad Thai? It’s a filling-enough meal that should be justly celebrated and that’s why it’s become my absolute must-order whenever I find myself at Sala Thai, 1614 N.W. 23rd Street, which is surprisingly quite often.
With the supernaturally glowing sign out front reading “Vegetarians Welcome,” the mildly full eatery was the perfect place for me to have my weekly McCartney-inspired “Meatless Monday” exercise, somewhat desperate to try their highly-praised tofu, both on and off the menu.
Glancing at the listings momentarily, I knew that I was craving their tofu-drenched Pat Thai, but for an appetizer, the Fried Tofu ($7.25) seemed like a rather unpretentious evening treat; it arrived shortly, stacked like gently-fried building blocks of coagulated soy, complete with a sweet and sour dipping sauce that, while adequate, I instead paired with a bit of hot chili sauce for some absolutely necessary heat.
Each tofu brick was firmly packed, with a full-on peanut oil flavor that was compressed with the additionally nut-heavy sweet and sour sauce. But it achieved its absolute ferocity with a small spoonful or two of the chili sauce strait from the metallic dish. I probably could have simply enjoyed this appetizer alone for dinner, but I pushed the malicious remnants away as my Pad Thai was brought to the table.
Like one night in Bangkok, this Pad Thai ($9.50) is an edible god in a golden cloister. A “very traditional” dish, per the menu, what makes Sala Thai’s take on this classic a true local marvel is the renowned purity of the individual ingredients; here, we have stir fried rice noodles with fresh bean sprouts, strips of green onions, a side of ground peanuts, as well as plenty of perfectly diced cubes of tofu, once again fried to a golden hue—nobody said that the pearls were free.
Each dreamy aspect of this Pad Thai keeps a singularly distinctive flavor, either when enjoyed separately on showy chopsticks or mostly together on a reductive fork. I sometimes think that this is one of the few Oklahoma City meals that has a culinary identity all its own, that remarkably unmistakable Sala Thai taste when you lightly and politely bring each helping to waiting lips.
Sala Thai is, of course, an obvious Oklahoma City food destination that is prayerfully on every locals’ scrawny list of restaurants to try or hopefully try soon. And you know, if that makes me a basic bitch, pass the Target-bought Frappuccino and a used copy of Reputation, as well as another serving of this magical Pad Thai. Cómpralo ya!