Home Recipes Pad Kee Mao vs Pad See Ew: Similarities and Differences

Pad Kee Mao vs Pad See Ew: Similarities and Differences

Welcome to our in-depth comparison of two of the most popular Thai noodle dishes – Pad Kee Mao and Pad See Ew. While these dishes share some similarities, there are also significant differences that you should know about before deciding which one to order.

In this article, we will explore the origins, preparation methods, flavor profiles, ingredients, nutritional values, popular variants, pairing with beverages, serving suggestions, and cooking tips for both dishes. We will also help you make a decision by discussing taste preferences, dietary needs, and personal experience. So, let’s dive in and explore the wonderful world of Pad Kee Mao and Pad See Ew!

Origin and History

Pad Kee Mao and Pad See Ew are two of the most popular Thai noodle dishes, loved by locals and tourists alike. Both dishes have a rich history and a cultural significance that is embedded in the Thai cuisine traditions. Their names, “Pad Kee Mao” and “Pad See Ew,” have interesting origins that are worth exploring.

Pad Kee Mao

The name “Pad Kee Mao” translates to “Drunken Noodles” in English. The dish got its name from its spicy flavor, which is meant to be so strong that it will cure a hangover. The dish originated in central Thailand and is believed to have been created by Chinese immigrants living in the region. It was traditionally served with a strong alcoholic drink, hence the name.

Pad See Ew

“Pad See Ew” translates to “Stir-Fried Soy Sauce Noodles” in English. The dish originated in the central region of Thailand and is believed to have been influenced by Chinese cuisine. The dish is typically made with Chinese broccoli and meat, such as chicken or beef. The thick noodles used in Pad See Ew are similar to those used in Pad Kee Mao.

Both dishes have become staples in Thai cuisine and are enjoyed by people all around the world. The primary difference between the two dishes is their flavor profile and the ingredients used.

Preparation Method

Both Pad Kee Mao and Pad See Ew are prepared using stir-frying, which is a quick and high-heat cooking method typical in Thai cuisine. The main difference in the preparation method is the type of sauce used.

Pad Kee Mao, also known as Drunken Noodles, is made with a spicy sauce that includes chili peppers, garlic, and Thai basil. The noodles are stir-fried with meat, seafood, or vegetables, and the sauce is added towards the end of cooking to ensure that the noodles retain their texture.

Pad See Ew, on the other hand, is made with a sweeter and milder sauce that includes soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar. The noodles are stir-fried with meat, seafood, or vegetables, and the sauce is added at the beginning of cooking to ensure that the noodles absorb the flavor.

Overall, both dishes are quick and easy to make, but the main difference lies in the sauce ingredients, resulting in distinct flavor profiles.

Flavor Profile

Pad Kee Mao and Pad See Ew share some similarities in flavor profile but have distinct differences. Both dishes are savory and slightly sweet, but Pad Kee Mao tends to be spicier than Pad See Ew. The spiciness in Pad Kee Mao comes from the use of fresh chilies, while Pad See Ew has a milder taste with a hint of savory sweetness.

The balance of flavors in each dish is achieved through the use of different sauces and herbs. Pad Kee Mao uses a combination of oyster sauce, soy sauce, and fish sauce along with Thai basil leaves and sometimes cilantro to give it a distinct aroma. Pad See Ew, on the other hand, relies on a delicate balance of soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sweet soy sauce. The dish is usually finished off with a sprinkle of white pepper and some chopped Chinese kale to provide a hint of bitterness.

Both dishes are delicious and offer their own unique flavors to the table. Depending on your preference for spiciness and sweetness, you can choose either Pad Kee Mao or Pad See Ew.


Pad Kee Mao and Pad See Ew share some common ingredients, while others make each dish unique. Both dishes use flat rice noodles, but Pad Kee Mao often includes additional vegetables like bell peppers, Thai basil, and tomatoes. Pad See Ew typically includes Chinese broccoli and soy sauce, giving it a slightly sweeter flavor.

The protein used in the dishes can vary, but popular options include chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, and tofu for vegetarian options. Vegetables like onions, carrots, and broccoli are often added to the dishes, giving them a healthy serving of greens.

For spices and sauces, both dishes typically include garlic, chili, and soy sauce, but Pad Kee Mao also uses oyster sauce and fish sauce.

In summary, while the two dishes have some common ingredients, the additional vegetables and sauces used in each make Pad Kee Mao and Pad See Ew distinct from one another.

Nutritional Value

While Pad Kee Mao and Pad See Ew are both delicious and satisfying, they are not exactly low in calories or fat. However, they do offer some nutritional benefits, especially when made with fresh, high-quality ingredients.

A typical serving of Pad Kee Mao contains approximately 700-800 calories, depending on the type and amount of protein used. It also contains a significant amount of fat, usually around 30-40 grams per serving. However, the dish is a good source of protein, fiber, and vitamin C, thanks to ingredients like chicken, tofu, vegetables, and herbs.

Pad See Ew typically has fewer calories and less fat than Pad Kee Mao, with around 500-600 calories per serving and 10-20 grams of fat. This is largely due to the fact that it contains fewer ingredients overall, with a focus on rice noodles and vegetables instead of meat or tofu. Pad See Ew is also a good source of iron, which can be particularly important for those following a vegetarian or vegan diet.

If you’re looking to enjoy these dishes while also being mindful of your health, there are some easy modifications you can make. To reduce calories and fat, try opting for a vegetarian or tofu-based version, or request your dish to be made with less oil or sauce. You can also add extra vegetables or swap the noodles for a low-carb option like zucchini or spaghetti squash.

Popular Variants

Both Pad Kee Mao and Pad See Ew offer a variety of options for those with different taste preferences and dietary needs. Here are some of the most popular variants:


For vegetarians, both dishes can be made with tofu or mixed vegetables instead of meat. The sauce can also be adjusted to be vegetarian-friendly by using vegetarian oyster sauce or soy sauce instead of fish sauce.


Seafood lovers can enjoy Pad Kee Mao or Pad See Ew with shrimp, squid, or a combination of both. The seafood is usually stir-fried along with the other ingredients and adds a delicious flavor to the dish.


The most common meat used in Pad Kee Mao and Pad See Ew is chicken, but beef and pork are also popular options. The meat is thinly sliced and stir-fried with the noodles and vegetables, giving the dish a hearty and satisfying flavor.

No matter what your dietary preferences are, Pad Kee Mao and Pad See Ew can be tailored to your liking. Just make sure to communicate your needs to the restaurant or chef when ordering.

Pairing with Beverages

When it comes to finding the perfect beverage to pair with Pad Kee Mao or Pad See Ew, there are several options to consider. Whether you prefer a cold beer or a glass of wine, there is a pairing that can complement the flavors of the dish.


If you’re looking for a refreshing drink to enjoy with your Thai noodle dish, beer is always a good option. For Pad Kee Mao, a light lager or pilsner pairs well with the bold flavors of the dish. For Pad See Ew, a malty brown ale or amber beer can help balance out the sweetness of the sauce.


If you prefer wine, a crisp white wine such as a Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc can complement the spiciness of Pad Kee Mao. For Pad See Ew, a light red wine like Pinot Noir can pair well with the flavorful sauce.

Thai Iced Tea

If you’re looking for a classic Thai beverage to pair with your meal, Thai iced tea is a sweet and refreshing option. The creamy and slightly spicy flavors of the tea can help counteract the heat of spicy Pad Kee Mao or add extra sweetness to Pad See Ew.

Serving Suggestions

When it comes to serving Pad Kee Mao or Pad See Ew, there are many ways to customize each dish to personal preferences.

For Pad Kee Mao, try topping it with fresh Thai basil or cilantro for an added burst of flavor. You can also add a squeeze of lime or sprinkle of crushed peanuts to give it a tangy and crunchy finish.

As for Pad See Ew, garnish with green onions for extra freshness. You can also add a little bit of chili flakes or chili oil to give it a spicy kick. Additionally, you can serve the dish with a side of chili vinegar sauce to balance the sweetness of the sauce.

If you prefer spicier dishes, you can add more fresh chili peppers or chili oil to either dish. For a milder taste, reduce the amount of chili peppers or omit them altogether.

Both dishes pair well with white rice or sticky rice on the side. For added protein, you can add shrimp, chicken, beef, or tofu.

Spices and Sauces

Thai cuisine is known for its bold flavors and use of spices. Some common spices used in Pad Kee Mao and Pad See Ew include garlic, chili peppers, and shallots.

Additionally, both dishes use a sauce made from a combination of soy sauce, oyster sauce, and fish sauce. This sauce is what gives the dishes their distinct umami flavor.

If you are a fan of spicier food, try adding Sriracha or chili garlic sauce to either dish for an extra kick. For a sweeter taste, add a little bit of honey or brown sugar.

Presentation Tips

To make your dish look more appetizing, consider using a deep bowl or plate. This will allow the sauce to pool at the bottom, making the dish look more vibrant and colorful.

You can also add a sprinkle of sesame seeds or chopped scallions on top to give the dish a pop of color.

Don’t forget to use chopsticks or a fork and spoon when serving the dish. Using a spoon to scoop up the sauce and noodles, and a fork or chopsticks to pick up the vegetables and meat, is a common way to enjoy both dishes in Thailand.

Which One to Order?

So, now that you know the differences and similarities between Pad Kee Mao and Pad See Ew, you may be wondering which dish to order. Ultimately, the decision comes down to personal taste preference and dietary needs.

Taste Preference

If you prefer a spicier dish with bold flavors and a bit of tanginess, Pad Kee Mao may be the way to go. On the other hand, if you enjoy a milder, sweeter dish with a focus on the rich soy sauce flavor, Pad See Ew might be a better choice.

Dietary Needs

Both dishes are typically made with a protein such as chicken, beef, or shrimp, but can easily be made vegetarian by omitting the protein or substituting with tofu or vegetables. If you have any specific dietary needs or restrictions, be sure to ask your server or check with the restaurant to see if they can accommodate them.

Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind the nutritional value of each dish. Pad Kee Mao typically has more calories and fat due to its spicier and more flavorful sauce. If you’re looking for a healthier option, you might want to consider Pad See Ew or ask for modifications to make it a lighter meal.

Ultimately, the decision of which dish to order depends on your personal taste and dietary needs. Both Pad Kee Mao and Pad See Ew are delicious Thai noodle dishes that are sure to satisfy your cravings.

Cooking Tips

Now that you know the differences between Pad Kee Mao and Pad See Ew, you may want to try your hand at making these dishes at home. Here are some helpful cooking tips to get you started.

Ingredient Substitutions

If you are unable to find certain ingredients, don’t worry! There are plenty of substitutions you can make without sacrificing flavor. For example, if you cannot find wide rice noodles, you can use dried or fresh udon noodles instead. If you are a vegetarian, you can substitute tofu or seitan for meat.

Cooking Techniques

One of the keys to making a great Pad Kee Mao or Pad See Ew is the cooking technique. For both dishes, you will need to stir-fry the ingredients over high heat. It’s important to cook the meat or tofu first, remove it from the wok or pan, and then cook the vegetables separately. This helps to ensure that everything is cooked evenly and nothing gets overcooked.

Getting the Right Balance of Flavors

The perfect Pad Kee Mao or Pad See Ew should have a well-balanced mix of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy flavors. To achieve this, you will need to use the right combination of sauces and seasonings. Don’t be afraid to adjust the amount of each ingredient to suit your taste!

Serving Suggestions

When serving Pad Kee Mao or Pad See Ew, it’s always a good idea to have some garnishes and spices on hand. Cilantro, lime wedges, and sliced chili peppers are popular garnishes, while chili flakes and fish sauce can be used to add extra flavor. Remember, presentation is key! Arrange the noodles and veggies in an appealing way to make your dish look as appetizing as possible.

Practice Makes Perfect

Like any new skill, cooking Pad Kee Mao or Pad See Ew takes practice. Don’t be discouraged if your first attempt doesn’t turn out perfectly. Keep experimenting with different ingredients and techniques until you find the perfect recipe that suits your taste.

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Here are some frequently asked questions about Pad Kee Mao and Pad See Ew:

1. Are Pad Kee Mao and Pad See Ew spicy?

Yes, both dishes can be spicy. However, the level of spiciness can be adjusted to personal preference and many restaurants will ask how spicy you want your dish when you order.

2. Can I make these dishes vegetarian?

Yes, both dishes can easily be made vegetarian by substituting tofu or vegetables for the meat. Just be sure to check with the restaurant or recipe to make sure the sauce doesn’t contain any animal products.

3. What is the difference between Pad Kee Mao and Pad See Ew?

The main difference is in the type of noodle used. Pad Kee Mao is made with wide, flat rice noodles, while Pad See Ew uses thin, flat rice noodles. Additionally, Pad Kee Mao typically contains more vegetables and has a spicier flavor than Pad See Ew.

4. Can I make these dishes gluten-free?

Yes, both dishes can be made gluten-free by using gluten-free soy sauce and rice noodles. Just be sure to check with the restaurant or recipe to make sure no other ingredients contain gluten.

5. How do I reheat leftovers?

The best way to reheat leftovers is in a pan over low heat with a splash of water or broth to prevent the noodles from drying out. Alternatively, you can microwave it with a damp paper towel over the top to prevent it from drying out.