Pad thai is easy to find in Kansas City, but where is the best version of this ubiquitous dish? Chef Tim Freeman, now of the Overland Park Convention Center, once made a version that prevailed in a head-to-head competition on the Food Network's "Beat Bobby Flay."
Central Standard host Gina Kaufmann recently asked Freeman to tell his story and give a live demonstration at a makeshift kitchen in the KCUR studio.
"One of the things I discovered living all over the world is, I've got to tell you, 99.9 percent of humans are the same," Freeman said. "They want to take care of their families, they want to work, and they want peace."
They also want noodles, if the recommendations by Central Standard’s food critics are any indication.
Mary Bloch, Around the Block
- Waldo Thai Place —Khao Soi Nua, a Northern style beef curry with crispy egg noodles, scallion, shallot, lime, cilantro and egg noodles, is one of the exciting additions to the lunch menu at Waldo Thai Place. An excellent version of pad thai is also among several outstanding noodle dishes at one of the best restaurants to open last year, one that continues to enjoy cult status among food lovers.
- Lazia – Amatriciana is hearty and a plentiful dish typically made with guanciale and or pancetta, but at this new Italian steakhouse in the Crossroads Hotel, Chef Remy Ayesh specializes in homemade pasta and makes his with Italian sausage, pancetta and homemade fennel pappardelle.
- The Restaurant at 1900 – Garganelli in lamb Bolognese is my new current favorite, with sultanas, mint, sheep's milk yogurt and fresh cheese. This hot new restaurant helmed by Chef Linda Duerr always has a handful of pastas on its menu.
- Fox and Pearl – Bigoli, similar to bucatini, is tossed with pork cheek sugo, house ricotta and Aux Arcs cheese from Green Dirt Farm. Chef Vaughn Goode is a great addition to the Kansas City food scene.
- Il Centro – Spaghettini della casa is tossed with Romano cheese, diced tomatoes, garlic, basil and olive oil. It’s a simple dish done just right.
- Sichuan Dynasty – Dan Dan noodles are worth a visit to this new Overland Park restaurant with an authentic Chinese menu. They’re made with minced pork, sesame and chile sauce with peanuts on top.
- Room 39 – Fettucine Bolognese can’t be beat this time of year, and Room 39 always has a fresh pasta or gnocchi on the menu.
- Italian Delight – Lasagna here is great. Located right off of Johnson Drive in Mission, this cafeteria-style restaurant is perfect for parents who host dinners for their kids’ sports teams. A big pan of carryout is perfect for such occasions.
- Story – Tagliatelle with lobster, served with swiss chard, burrata and shiitake mushrooms, is simply luxurious.
- Jasper’s – Lasagna layered with ricotta cheese, Italian sausage and covered with Jasper's tomato sauce is tradition at its finest.
Bonjwing Lee, The Ulterior Epicure
- Vietnam Café – Pho bò (shaved beef) is makes a satisfying lunch or dinner, though they have lots of noodle dishes, including stir-fried, as well as soup noodles.
- Bella Napoli – Amatriciana, or spicy tomato sauce with pancetta, is good here. I recently ordered it with rigatoni instead of spaghetti and it was fantastic. There are usually four or five pasta dishes on the menu, including a rich carbonara.
- Kin Lin – Singapore rice noodles with pork, chicken or shrimp, is made with rice vermicelli and spiced with yellow curry. And the beef soup noodles, which are thicker dough noodles with beef in a beef broth, are also good.
- Blue Koi – Ants on a Tree is traditionally thin, clear vermicelli noodles stir-fried with ground pork, but Blue Koi offers it with tofu as well. This version has shredded cabbage stir-fried with the noodles and pork or tofu. There are two locations, one on 39th Street in Midtown and the other in Mission Farms in Leawood.
- Columbus Park Ramen – Tonkotsu ramen is a very rich, traditional dish with pork fat emulsified into the broth. This is my favorite ramen restaurant in Kansas City, with high-quality noodles and exceptionally flavorful broth. If you like spicy, I recommend the kimchi ramen, which features a rotating seafood.
Chris Young is an associate producer for KCUR's Central Standard. Reach out to him at email@example.com.