Pad See Ew vs Pad Thai Differences

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Let’s talk Thai noodles: pad see ew vs pad Thai! These two noodle dishes are among the most popular in Thai cuisine. Today, we’ll explore the key differences between them, from flavors and ingredients to cooking methods and serving suggestions.

Pad see ew vs pad Thai comparison.

After reading this post where we compare two delicious Thai noodle dishes, be sure to try one of my authentic Thai recipes for each of them!

If you love dry rice noodles, try my chicken pad thai recipe or beef pad thai.

Prefer the fresh wide rice noodles? Then you’ll love my recipes for beef pad see ew, chicken pad see ew, and pad see ew shrimp!

Pad see ew vs pad Thai ingredients

Both pad see ew and pad Thai are iconic Thai dishes, but their ingredients are what make them so different. Let’s take a look at what makes each dish uniquely flavorful, from the noodles to the sauces, vegetables, and proteins.

Noodles

Pad Thai noodles are thin, flat rice noodles called sen lek in Thai. These flat noodles are stir-fried until they are tender but still slightly chewy, absorbing the tangy, sweet, and savory flavors of the tamarind-based pad Thai sauce.

Another popular Thai dish that can be prepared with sen lek (thin rice noodles) is pad kee mao (drunken noodles).

Rice noodles on a bamboo dish.
Dry rice noodles for making pad Thai.

Pad see ew is made with fresh wide rice noodles, known as sen yai in Thai. These noodles are broader and thicker, providing a satisfyingly chewy texture that pairs perfectly with the savory soy sauce and the slight char from the high-heat stir-fry.

If you love sen yai noodles, you might also like noodle dishes like kuay teow kua gai (stir-fried wide rice noodles with chicken) and lad na or rad na (fresh noodles with gravy).

Close-up of homemade Thai sen yai noodles prepped for stir-frying.
Sen yai noodles for making pad see ew.

Flavors and sauces

Both dishes have unique sauces and seasonings which create their distinct flavor.

Pad see ew flavors: Pad see ew is known for its savory flavor with a hint of sweetness and the prominent use of soy sauce. The noodles are typically tossed with dark soy sauce before being stir-fried, which gives them their distinct dark color and sweet, caramelized flavor.

The fresh rice noodles are chewy and typically stir-fried over high heat, which chars them slightly, adding a delicious smoky undertone.

Pad see ew shrimp served in a patterned dish.

Pad Thai flavors: Pad Thai has a balanced blend of sweet, tangy, and savory flavors, thanks to its tamarind-based sauce. This pad Thai sauce combines tamarind paste, palm sugar, and fish sauce to create its unique taste that complements the noodles perfectly.

Garlic, shallots, and dried shrimp are added to the stir-fried noodles to add flavor and texture.

Authentic chicken pad Thai served in a traditional bamboo dish, accompanied by chili flakes and a lime wedge.

Note: Both dishes can also be made with other types of noodles, like thin rice vermicelli. For a delicious variation, try my recipe for sen mee pad see ew.

Vegetables

The vegetables used in pad see ew and pad Thai can vary depending on the region in Thailand, the specific recipe, or the household preparing it. However, there are some classic veggies that are typically found in both dishes:

Vegetables in pad see ew: In pad see ew, the most commonly used vegetable is Chinese broccoli (kai lan or gai lan). Its thick stems and tender leaves provide a delightful crunch and a slightly bitter flavor that contrasts beautifully with the savory, sweet noodles. Garlic is always used, and onions are often included as well.

Vegetables in Pad Thai: Pad Thai typically features a mix of vegetables, such as bean sprouts, shallots, preserved radish, garlic, and garlic chives. The bean sprouts and garlic chives are typically added towards the end of cooking to retain their crunch.

Feel free to adapt the vegetables based on what you have on hand or your personal preferences! Some recipes will use different vegetables to create new flavors, just like my recipe for vegetarian pad Thai vegetables includes carrots.

Vegetarian pad Thai vegetables served in a wooden dish.

Garnishes

Garnishes add the finishing touch to both dishes, enhancing the flavor and presentation.

Pad see ew garnishes: Pad see ew is typically garnished with a sprinkle of white pepper and a wedge of lime. The white pepper adds a subtle spiciness, while the lime provides a burst of acidity that balances the savory and sweet flavors of the dish.

Personally, I like pad see ew best with a bit of spice from Thai chili flakes.

Pad Thai garnishes: In Thailand, pad Thai is typically served with a side of crushed peanuts, fresh bean sprouts, a lime wedge, white sugar, and sometimes red pepper flakes for added heat.

Hand squeezing lime over beef pad Thai garnished with bean sprouts and peanuts.

Proteins

Both pad see ew and pad Thai can be made with different proteins like chicken, pork, beef, and seafood.

Pad see ew’s savory-sweet sauce pairs well with any protein, and it can also be made vegetarian with tofu or extra veggies.

Pad Thai often includes dried shrimp and tofu and can also feature chicken, pork, beef, or seafood.

Pad Thai vs pad see ew calories

Pad Thai typically has around 450–600 calories per serving, offering a balance of carbs, proteins, and fats, with higher sugar content. Pad see ew usually has about 400–550 calories per serving, with fewer carbs and sugars but similar protein. Both dishes provide essential nutrition from their ingredients.

Summary

Pad see ew

  • Preparation: Quick and easy, ideal for a fast meal.
  • Noodles: Made with wide rice noodles (sen yai).
  • Flavor: Savory with a hint of sweetness, featuring a caramelized soy sauce flavor.
  • Sauce: Simple stir-fry sauce made with dark and light soy sauces, often with a touch of sugar.

Pad Thai

  • Preparation: Requires more time with special ingredients like tamarind sauce, fish sauce, and roasted peanuts.
  • Noodles: Traditionally made with thin rice noodles (sen lek). It can also be made with glass noodles, known as pad Thai woon sen.
  • Flavor: Bold, tangy, and sweet.
  • Sauce: Complex sauce with salty, sweet, and sour flavors, made from tamarind paste, fish sauce, and palm sugar.

More Thai noodle comparisons

Conclusion

Both of these Thai street food options are full of flavor and make perfect weeknight dinners. Do you prefer the savory, slightly sweet taste of pad see ew or the bold, tangy flavors of pad Thai? Share your favorite Thai noodle dish in the comments! Don’t forget to follow me on social media: FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest.

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