Why Are They Called Drunken Noodles? Pad Kee Mao in Thailand Name (With Recipe)

druken noodle pad kee mao

Are you a fan of Thai food? If so, you’ve probably heard of drunken noodles, also known as pad kee mao, a popular dish that both locals and tourists frequently enjoy.

But have you ever wondered how this spicy noodle dish got its name? Why are they called drunken noodles? It turns out that there’s an interesting story behind its name.

In this post, we’ll talk about the history and origins of drunken noodles, as well as what they mean to Thai culture. We will look at some different varieties of this special dish from different regions of Thailand.

So grab a plate and let’s dive into the world of drunken noodles!

History and Origins of Drunken Noodles

The origins of drunken noodles can be traced back to the streets of Thailand, where they were commonly sold by vendors to late-night revelers looking for a quick, spicy meal to soak up the alcohol. 

Even though they started out as a simple dish, drunken noodles are now one of Thailand’s most popular dishes. They are made in many different ways, depending on the region. 

In some parts of the country, the dish is made with seafood, while in others, it is made with chicken or pork. Some versions also include vegetables such as tomatoes, bell peppers, and basil.

Why Are They Called Drunken Noodles: Pad Kee Mao?

Well, the name “drunken noodles” may have come from the fact that drunk people often ate this dish because they thought the spicy flavors would help them feel better.

People who had been drinking often ate this dish because they thought the spicy flavors would help them feel better. Thus, “drunken noodles” came to be known.

In Thailand, the dish is often just called “pad kee mao,” not “drunken pad kee mao.” This is because the name “drunken noodles” is a translation of the dish’s name from Thai to English, and the word “drunken” is not part of the original Thai name.

But don’t let the name fool you—drunken noodles are delicious even if you’re sober!

Recipe: Pad Thai Stir-Fried Noodle With Prawns and Shrimp Recipe

Traditional Ingredients Used To Make Drunken Noodles

Drunken noodles are known for having a strong, spicy flavor, and both locals and tourists like to eat them.

The traditional ingredients used to make drunken noodles include wide rice noodles, meat or seafood (such as chicken, pork, shrimp, or squid), chili peppers, garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, and sugar.

Most of the time, the noodles are soaked in water before they are stir-fried in a wok with the other ingredients. This makes a spicy and flavorful dish.

In addition to these main ingredients, vegetables like tomatoes, bell peppers, and basil are often added to drunken noodles. Some versions also add extra flavors, like oyster sauce or fermented bean paste, to make the taste more complex. 

Sugar can be added for sweetness, while chili peppers can add heat. The bell pepper adds a crunchy texture, while the basil leaves give it a fresh aroma. Lastly, green onions provide an additional layer of flavor and aroma to the dish.

Different Variations of Drunken Noodles That Can Be Found in Different Regions of Thailand

In Thailand, there are many different variations of drunken noodles that can be found in different regions of the country

In some areas, the dish is made with seafood, such as shrimp or raw squid, while in others it is made with chicken or pork. 

Some versions also have vegetables like tomatoes, bell peppers, and basil in them, while others don’t.

Additionally, the level of spiciness can vary greatly depending on the region. In northern Thailand, where the cuisine is known for its bold, spicy flavors, drunken noodles are often made with extra chili peppers to give them a fiery kick. 

In southern Thailand, where the cuisine is more mild, the dish is often made with fewer chili peppers to make it more palatable for a wider range of diners.

The different kinds of drunken noodles you can find in different parts of Thailand show how different the country’s food traditions are and how each region has its own tastes and ingredients. No matter where you try drunken noodles in Thailand, you’re sure to find a delicious and satisfying dish.

Related: Can You Reheat Leftover Noodles Twice?

Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao) Prices and Where to Find 

In terms of prices and availability, drunken noodles can be found at a wide range of restaurants and street food stalls throughout Thailand. 

The price for one serving of the dish is usually between 50 and 100 Thai baht, which is about $1.50 to $3.00.

Drunken noodles are easy to find all over the country, from big cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai to smaller towns and rural areas.

They can be found at both high-end restaurants and casual street food stalls, so it’s easy to find a tasty version of the dish no matter where you are in Thailand.

Is it Safe to Eat Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao)?

Both locals and tourists frequently enjoy the dish because of its spicy, strong flavor. But is it safe to eat drunken noodles? 

The short answer is yes; drunken noodles are generally safe to eat

Like any other dish, it’s important to make sure that the ingredients are fresh and properly cooked to avoid foodborne illness. If you’re eating at a reputable restaurant or street food stall, the chances of getting sick from drunken noodles are relatively low.

Some people may also be sensitive to the spices in drunken noodles, which can make their stomach hurt or cause other symptoms.

If you’re unsure about how your body will react to the spicy flavors of the dish, it’s best to start with a small portion and see how you feel before eating more.

druken noodle pad kee mao

Drunken Noodles— Pad Kee Mao Recipe

Drunken Noodles, or as the locals call it, Pad Kee Mao. This enchanting dish combines the essence of Thai street food with a touch of rebelliousness, leaving you craving for more with every fiery bite.
5 from 1 vote
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Thailand
Servings 2


  • 8 oz wide rice noodles
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 lb chicken, thinly sliced
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp chili flakes (optional)


  • Soak the rice noodles for 10 minutes in warm water, then drain and set aside.
  • In a wok or large frying pan set over medium-high heat, add the vegetable oil, add the chicken, and stir-fry for about 5 minutes, or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.
  • Add the garlic and bell pepper and stir-fry for an additional 2 minutes.
  • Add the soaked rice noodles, soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, and chili flakes (if using) and stir-fry until the noodles are heated through and coated with the sauce, about 3-5 minutes.
  • Stir in the fresh basil leaves and cook for an additional minute.
  • Serve the drunken noodles hot, garnished with additional fresh basil if desired.
Keyword drunken noodles, pad kee mao

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