The dish that Knock Out Thai Noodles & Rice in Van Nuys calls Special Pad Thai is, by the standards of most diners, an overwhelming plate of food. The roster of ingredients includes bean sprouts, chives, green beans, crushed peanuts, egg, shrimp, dried shrimp, a giant prawn, and pork belly. This gang of goodies is mounted atop a pile of sen chan–flat rice noodles made in Thailand, direct from chef Sakris Chaiwattananon’s friend’s noodle factory.
The noodles are stir-fried with tamarind, chiles, palm sugar, fish sauce, and various spices. The pork belly is roasted with the skin intact and crunchy. The massive prawn is split and fried, head still attached. Portion-wise, it’s about one and a half times larger than most pad thais, if not twice as big. Knock Out Thai’s Special Pad Thai is a meal you can easily share.
An interesting characteristic you’ll notice right away about this particular pad thai is that it’s not overly sweet like many pad thais in L.A. In fact, it’s barely sweet. The predominant profile here is spicy—hellish spicy. That’s because the chef models his pad thai on a variation from his hometown in the Northern Thailand’s Sukhothai Province. There, they like it hot. They also like lots of proteins mingling with their rice noodles, which explains the pork belly and shellfish.
Chaiwattananon is a retired Thai boxing coach, hence the name of his restaurant: Knock Out Thai But, it can just as easily be an alert to the intense heat that’s about to hit you square in the mouth. Don’t say nobody warned you.
Knock Out Thai Noodles & Rice, 16449 Vanowen St., Van Nuys, 818-787-6083