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The World’s Second Best Pad Thai

Las Vegas is one of my favorite places to visit. I love the energy of the city. And the food… oh! The food. There are so many amazing restaurants that have vegan-specific menus which offer more than just lettuce. Steve Wynn, for example, went vegan several years ago and hired a chef to create gourmet-quality vegan menus at every single restaurant at Wynn and Encore. As a result, these destinations have become something of a Mecca within the vegan community. From the vegan Bolognese sauce at Terrace Point Cafe to the dumplings and sushi rolls at Wazuzu… it’s a good time to be a vegan.

But on the other side of the strip, tucked away on the 3rd floor of the Mandarin Oriental at City Center is MOzen Bisrto which has, in my opinion, the finest vegan menu I have ever seen. No, the menu is not large or overly creative (there’s only 3 dinner entrees), but the food is exactly what I love: it’s simple and polished with expertly developed flavors. It’s pure artwork. If you’re ever in Las Vegas, add this spot to your list of must-visit restaurants.

The pad Thai on their menu was one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever eaten. After I took the first bite, my only thought was, “I’ve got to steal this.” It was so good, I just wanted to make it for myself every day. As I ate the dish, I made mental notes about the ingredients and flavors. What we have below is a pad Thai that I created based on my memories of the one at MOzen. No, it’s not as good (that would be impossible) but this could be the world’s second best pad Thai. ๐Ÿ™‚

Vegetarian Pad Thai

Makes 3-4 servings

Pad Thai Sauce Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable stock
  • 3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 1+ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 sheet nori/seaweed (optional)

The perfect pad Thai sauce should hit your tongue with notes of sweetness, then acidity, and then spiciness in that order. This sauce does a great job of developing those flavors. Simply combine all the ingredients (except the seaweed) into a saucepan and warm on low heat. It doesn’t need to be cooked, just warmed to incorporate all the flavors.

Finally, you can optionally add a sheet of seaweed into the sauce for 30 seconds to give it a mildly fishy flavor. Traditional pad Thai requires fish sauce, which is obviously out of the question for a plant-based version. But adding seaweed is a perfect substitute. It doesn’t take long, though, simply dip the sheet into the sauce until it wilts, then remove and discard it.

This sauce can easily be made ahead of time and it keeps well in the refrigerator for several days.

Pad Thai Recipe

Ingredients:

  • Pad Thai rice noodles (8-10 oz.)
  • 8-12 asparagus
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 yellow summer squash
  • 1 cup mung bean sprouts
  • 2-3 green onions
  • 8 oz tofu
  • 1-2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2-3 limes
  • 1/3 cup cilantro
  • Crushed peanuts
  • Pad Thai sauce (above)

Step One: The Veggies

Pad Thai Veggies

Begin heating a large pot of water for the rice noodles. Meanwhile, chop all the vegetables into rounds. For the asparagus, cut off the tips and use them whole, but thinly slice the stalks (much like you would a green onion). Heat a wok or large skillet for the vegetables with one tablespoon of peanut oil and begin stir frying them over medium heat.

Step Two: The Tofu

Pad Thai Tofu

Heat a smaller skillet with another tablespoon of peanut oil for the tofu. While the pan is warming, slice the tofu into 1/4 inch squares and use paper towels to thoroughly squeeze out all remaining water. (see my How to Cook Tofu tutorial for more info on properly cooking tofu). Then, slice these squares into thin strips and add them to the hot skillet to brown.

Step Three: The Noodles

When the pot of water for the rice noodles is boiling, remove it from the heat and add the noodles. They should take only about 5 minutes to cook in the hot water. When they’re becoming soft, drain the water and add the rice noodles into the wok with the veggies. Pour in the pad Thai sauce and the golden tofu. Toss everything together and let the flavors mingle for about 5 minutes.

Step Four: The Finish

When everything is coming together in the wok, squeeze the juice of 1-2 limes over the top and add 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, toss again, and transfer to serving plates/bowls. Sprinkle peanuts over the top of the bowls, add a sprig of cilantro, and garnish with more bean sprouts and a lime wedge.

Vegetarian Pad Thai

17 Comments

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  1. This looks delicious and I’m reviewing the ingredient list which says 2 butternut squash — then I look at the pictures and it looks like it has summer (yellow) squash in it. Can you please clarify. Thanks. Can’t wait to try it.

    And thanks for an amazing website.

    • Hey Jill! Thanks for pointing that out. Yes, it is yellow summer squash. I’ve updated the recipe, sorry about that. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I just made this delicious dish last night! I have tried a few different variations and nothing compares to this one! Thank you! Luisa

  3. I moved out of Vegas a week ago and Pad Thai from MOzen Bistro is the only thing I miss lol ๐Ÿ˜›

    • Oh, you left? I loved all your IG pictures from Vegas! MOzen, China Poblano, and maybe Ronald’s Donuts would be the only things I’d miss too much. But hey, now you can make a replica of MOzen’s Pad Thai ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Sure, you can use any sweetener you like, there was no special reason for using agave. Brown sugar works nicely, maple syrup, etc.

  4. I have been wanting to make this for a while now and finally made it tonight! I did reduce the amount of cayenne to 1/2 tsp. which was plenty for my husband and I. It was SO DELICIOUS!!! Thanks for all the work you do to give us these awesome recipes!

    • Hmm, you probably could… but I’d be worried that there might be a slight maple flavor in your sauce. Actually brown sugar itself might be okay if you dissolved it in the sauce.

  5. Hello !
    I never ever leave comments on recipe but I really wanted to leave one for this one !
    First thing first : Thank you !
    We visited Thailand for 3 weeks and for whatever reason never had a pad thai. A few months ago, not even looking for it I saw this page and decided out of the blue to try it as I wanted to experiment something different… My partner, our flatmate and myself were mind blown. This recipe is in our top 3 of the best meals we ever had.
    We went back to Asia and never ever had a pad thai that good !
    As I didn’t have (or didn’t want to buy ingredients only used for this recipe) I made a few changes :
    Didn’t have tamarind past so I used peanut butter and I added 1/4 cup of lemon juice to the sauce.
    Perfectly hit the spot ! Sweet, than acid, than spicy. I’m in love with this recipe !
    When I first tried it we were in Australia, where we could find squash but now we are back in France so no more squash and we used zucchini instead (we thought that the taste was a bit similar).
    No asparagus for us we don’t like it. And I usually use seitan rather than tofu.
    For people who wanna try this recipe : go for it and make adjustments to the sauce if what Andrew described doesn’t work : sweet, acid and spicy. Use only fresh ingredients, I tried with defrosted extra squash, spring onions etc… Didn’t worked quite as good. Use the final touch of lime, it’s just prefect !
    Once again, thank you Andrew, I’ll keep making this recipe specially when told vegan food is bland =)
    I’m gonna have a look at your website, trying to find recipes as delicious as this one was !

    • Hi Emma! Wow, that is amazing. I love that you took the time to leave this comment and let me know how much you enjoyed the recipe. Your substitutions sound great, like the peanut butter and seitan โ€“ sounds awesome. Thanks again, and I’m so glad you’re enjoying the recipe.

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