Pakpao Thai

09.17.2014 by: Allison Turpin
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Pakpao Thai is a small restaurant tucked behind Oak in the Design District that serves fresh Thai food in a trendy casual setting. Its open dining room is welcoming with clear views to the kitchen and large windows streaming in natural light. There aren’t many tables and you may experience a wait on weekends. For this reason, we highly recommend calling 30 minutes ahead to get on the waitlist.

Open, airy interior with modern touches

The decor is simple: sprout green leather booths, beautiful wood tables nestled together, an open bar with plenty of room to mingle, and a floating ceiling of paper kites suspended overhead. The kites are unique but meaningful, as the “female” shaped kites give the restaurant its name, pakpao.

The cocktail list and wine list are good, with many options and several “skinny” cocktails for those looking for a more figure-friendly drink. The favorite at the table was the Chularita, which is a lemongrass margarita and the restaurant’s signature cocktail.

Chularita is both pretty and delicious

Hot tea served in a beautiful tea pot

The food menu is relatively large and comprised of a mix of traditional dishes like Pad Thai and several dishes with creative twists. As a starter, the Chicken Meatballs were underwhelming, especially since our waiter forgot to bring them as an appetizer and we had to remind him as our entrees were served. The Pork Belly, however, was much more appealing - with each bite giving you a nugget of salty, juicy pork belly.

Chicken Meatballs served with a cool cucumber salad

Light and refreshing Green Papaya Salad

If you are interested in a salad, try the Som Tum, or green papaya salad. It is light and refreshing with an acidic dressing that complements the sweet papaya strands.

The standout entrees were the Pad Kra Prow Mou Makreau Yao (ground pork with holy basil), Gaang Keau Wann Pla Salmon (salmon with green curry), and the Pad Kee Mow (drunken noodles). The ground pork and the salmon dishes were both packed with flavor yet very spicy, so be cautious before blindly ordering. If eaten with a side of sweet coconut rice, the spice is mellowed. The pork and the drunken noodles both were served in large portions, and we had plenty to save for lunch the following day. Overall, flavors were excellent in the entrees and it would be worth getting a few for the table so you can try several dishes, family style.

Green curry salmon

Ground pork with holy basil

Thai Coffee Mousse with Chocolate Brownie

While the food and atmosphere at Pakpao Thai is inviting, warm, and delicious, the service, unfortunately, is somewhat lacking. Not only did our appetizer arrive late, but we were also charged $5 for coconut rice that our waiter recommended substituting in our entrees for the jasmine rice. There was no mention that the coconut rice was an additional charge, and when the bill came, it was a difficult task to get those charges removed. Our waiter did try to redeem himself by bringing us a free dessert, Thai Coffee Mousse with a Chocolate Brownie.

Despite the lack of superior service, Pakpao Thai is a fun, reasonably priced restaurant that is worth a try. They have several specials weekly, including Pad Thai Mondays, happy hour daily, and brunch on the weekends. The restaurant is a concept from the creators of Oak and Belly & Trumpet, and it will give you a good flair for Southeast Asian eats. If you know how to navigate the menu and are in the mood for Thai, add Pakpao Thai to your list of restaurants to try. 

Pakpao Thai Official Website

TAGS : Design District , Pakpao Thai - Design District