By Yanshu Li

For a normal meal in Thailand, pad Thai is a traditional stir-fry to choose. It is also the most popular meal at Noodle St. in Boston.

pad Thai with vegetables, tofo and crispy chicken with sweet & sour sauce as add-up, Noodle St, Boston.
pad Thai with vegetables, tofo and crispy chicken with sweet & sour sauce as add-up, Noodle St, Boston. [Photo by Yanshu Li]
A rice noodle base costs $8.5, and there are 9 additions, that can cost up to $3. The additions are chicken, pork, beef, tofu, shrimps, seafood, crispy chicken, shrimp tempural and kinnari chicken. Noodle St lets the customers choose the pad Thai the way they want it. Paul Britton, an employee, estimated pad Thai added chicken takes up 60 percent of orders in this noodle-stir-fry category.

This Noodle St. signboard is over stairs near Kenmore Square. It was established in 2006. The main chef, also the co-owner, is a 75-year-old woman who has nearly 25 year of experience in Thai restaurants in The Boston areas. Noodle St. mainly serves fried-rice, noodle soup and noodle-stir-fry.

To adapt to American taste, Noodle St. has tone down the spiciness a little. “But we don’t tone it down that much,” Britton, said. “Because a lot of our customers are international students from BU, so they expect a traditional Thai taste.”

For this reason, the unspicy pad Thai has become the must-have dish. BU students and faculty, who need to be quick and healthy in daily dinning, are eighty percent of Noodle St.’s customers. Britton said: ”All our noodle are made in Chinatown in Boston. Every night at nine o’clock the noodle factory calls us ‘how many bags of noodles do you need for the next day.’ They will deliver it next morning.” This makes sure that there will be fresh material for noodle-based pad Thai.

Not only it is popular and fresh for customers, pad Thai also draws good numbers on revenue. The whole revenue on a daily basis would have to be divided into three parts: for dining-in, estimate, it’s around $2,000, take-out around $600, and delivery around $400. On average, for a day, pad Thai contributes 25 percent of the sales. Followed by the second popular NS Soup, which is ten percent. But also this distribution could vary by seasons. The steaming NS soup gains more popularity in a harsh winter of Boston.

Fall, winter and spring, are the busiest seasons. Now, in Boston, fall was just arrived, students are back and filling this restaurant during rush hours. During lunch, from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., the turned-table rate would be 1.5 times, Britton said. Which means 30 out of 120 dine-in orders are pad Thai during the bustling hour.

It takes estimately three minutes to stir-fry one pad Thai dish till it’s cooked and mixed well with sauce. If quatification works as we multipul the time and numbers of dishes to see the workload, then cooking pai Thai would take 75 percent of the lunch rush time.

Now, just out of fun, by a quick calculation, the chef who is in charge of making pad Thai, he probably has to keep stirring the pot during the lunch rush, and has little time to rest in between orders. Sore wrist maybe? Well this is the price of being popular.

(This piece was written in September, 2014.)

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