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Pad Woon Sen vs Pad Thai: What’s the Difference?

Summary of key points

The main difference between Pad Woon Sen and Pad Thai is that they are two different types of stir-fried noodle dishes from Thailand. While both dishes may have similar ingredients such as noodles, vegetables, and protein, the key difference lies in the type of noodles used. Pad Woon Sen uses glass or cellophane noodles made from mung beans, while Pad Thai uses flat rice noodles.

Additionally, the flavor profiles of these dishes differ due to the use of different sauces and seasonings. Pad Woon Sen is typically seasoned with soy sauce, garlic, and fish sauce, while Pad Thai uses a combination of tamarind paste, palm sugar, and chili peppers for a tangy-sweet-spicy taste. Both are delicious options for noodle lovers, but the choice between Pad Woon Sen and Pad Thai may depend on personal preferences or dietary restrictions.

Pad Woon Sen and Pad Thai might share the same aisle in a Thai restaurant menu. Yet, they’re as different as sneakers and flip-flops.

Our first date with Pad Thai was unforgettable, thanks to its tangy tamarind and crunchy peanuts. Pad Woon Sen? It waltzed in with glass noodles and a light, soy-sauce melody. Two dishes, one kitchen.

We’ve all had that moment of menu panic. “Glass noodles or the classic?” we ponder. Fear not, we’re here to dissect the mystery. With a dash of humor and heaps of noodles, we’re tackling this noodle conundrum head-on.

What is Pad Woon Sen?

Pad Woon Sen is a special Thai dish, unlike Pad Thai.

It’s made with glass noodles, vegetables and proteins – perfect for the taste buds.

Glass noodles, also known as cellophane noodles or bean thread noodles, are the key ingredient.

They’re made from mung bean starch and provide a soft texture.

Pad Woon Sen includes bell peppers, carrots, snow peas, and cabbage.

You can choose chicken, shrimp or tofu for added depth.

Aromatic Thai sauces bring out the flavors.

The absence of tamarind gives it a milder taste.

This means the ingredients don’t overpower each other.

Perfect for those who like a subtler experience.

Tender glass noodles, colorful veggies – Pad Woon Sen is a delightful alternative to Pad Thai.

It will transport your taste buds on an exquisite journey through Thailand’s rich gastronomic traditions.

What is Pad Thai?

Pad Thai is a classic Thai dish that unites sweet, salty, and tangy flavors.

It features stir-fried rice noodles, eggs, tofu, shrimp or chicken, bean sprouts, peanuts, and lime.

Cilantro and lime wedges are used to top off the dish.

To get its unique taste, Pad Thai is made with a sauce of tamarind paste, fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice.

This mix of ingredients creates a slightly sour yet savory flavor that sets it apart from other noodle dishes.

Unlike some Asian noodle dishes that are soupy or heavily sauced, Pad Thai has a drier texture, but still has the perfect balance of flavors.

The noodles are cooked to retain their chewiness, and then mixed with the sauce and other ingredients.

Shrimp or chicken is usually included in Pad Thai, though vegetarians can opt for tofu or add more veggies like broccoli or mushrooms.

The dish is so adaptable – everyone enjoys it.

Pad Thai is vibrant and flavorful.

It uses fresh herbs and spices to give it an extra depth.

It truly captures the essence of Thai cuisine.

Differences Between Pad Woon Sen and Pad Thai

Pad Woon Sen and Pad Thai are two popular Thai dishes.

They are both stir-fried noodles, but have their own distinct characteristics.

Noodle Type

Noodles play an essential role in the flavor and texture of dishes.

Pad Woon Sen and Pad Thai are two Thai noodle dishes that may look similar, but have major differences.

Let’s explore.

Pad Woon Sen noodles are made from mung bean starch.

They’re thin, yet absorbent and have a springy texture when cooked.

Pad Thai noodles, however, are wider and flatter.

They become tender and chewy when cooked.

Also, their wide surface allows for better sauce absorption.

When it comes to cooking, Pad Woon Sen is stir-fried quickly over high heat.

Meanwhile, Pad Thai noodles need to be soaked before stir-frying, so they don’t become clumpy.

These noodle types offer different flavor profiles.

Pad Woon Sen’s mung bean starch noodles pair perfectly with fresh veggies and seafood.

Whereas, Pad Thai’s rice noodles go well with bold ingredients like shrimp, tofu, and peanuts.

Ingredients Used

Thai cuisine’s flavors and textures depend on the ingredients used.

Pad Woon Sen, aka glass noodle stir-fry, has translucent noodles made from mung bean starch.

Veggies like carrots, mushrooms and cabbage offer crunch and freshness.

Proteins like shrimp or chicken are added and seasoned with sauces like oyster sauce or soy sauce for a savory flavor.

Pad Thai, a classic Thai street food, has rice noodles stir-fried with eggs and proteins like tofu or shrimp.

It gets sweetness from tamarind paste and palm sugar, plus Thai flavors from fish sauce and lime juice.

Bean sprouts, chives and peanuts top it off for texture and garnish.

The two dishes differ in noodles: glass noodles in Pad Woon Sen, rice noodles in Pad Thai.

Also, the veggies and proteins can vary based on personal or regional preferences.

Flavor Profile and Seasonings

Pad Woon Sen and Pad Thai have unique flavor profiles.

Each dish has a special blend of ingredients that give it a distinct taste.

Pad Woon Sen, or glass noodle stir-fry, is light and delicate.

It’s usually seasoned with soy sauce, oyster sauce, and lime juice for a tangy touch.

Carrots, cabbage, and mushrooms are often added too, adding texture and freshness.

Pad Thai has a bolder, brighter flavor profile.

It’s sweet and sour, usually made with tamarind paste, fish sauce, palm sugar, and chili flakes or powder.

These seasonings create the classic balance of flavors.

Though they share some ingredients, it’s the combination of flavors that sets them apart.

Pad Woon Sen has a bright lime juice taste, while Pad Thai has sweet palm sugar and sour tamarind paste.

Cooking Method and Texture

Pad Woon Sen and Pad Thai are two popular Thai dishes with distinct cooking styles.

They each provide unique flavors and experiences.

Pad Woon Sen is made by stir-frying glass noodles with veggies, proteins, and sauces.

This creates a light, delicate texture that is both satisfying and refreshing.

The ingredients are quickly cooked on high heat, preserving their crunchiness while blending flavors.

Pad Thai is prepared by stir-frying rice noodles with eggs, tofu/shrimp, bean sprouts, peanuts, and seasonings.

It has a chewy texture, complemented by sweet, sour, and savory flavors.

The noodles are cooked to perfection – tender but firm.

Plus, Pad Woon Sen often uses fresh herbs such as cilantro or basil for a vibrant aroma.

Pad Thai, on the other hand, has tamarind paste for a tangy taste.

These differences make Pad Woon Sen and Pad Thai stand out.

Whether you love the crunchiness of Pad Woon Sen or the chewiness of Pad Thai’s noodles, both will transport you to Thailand with their flavors.

Similarities Between Pad Woon Sen and Pad Thai

Pad Woon Sen and Pad Thai share many similarities.

They are both beloved Thai stir-fried noodle dishes.

Rice noodles are the usual star ingredient, with a special combination of sauces to give them their unique taste.

Eggs, tofu, and vegetables like bean sprouts and green onions are commonly used.

Plus, garnishes of peanuts and lime wedges add crunch and flavor.

The combination of textures is what makes these dishes so special and enjoyable.

Foodies around the world love them for their authentic Thai flavors.

Regional Variations of Pad Woon Sen and Pad Thai

Pad Woon Sen and Pad Thai are two famous Thai noodle dishes.

They have their own regional versions, with different ingredients, cooking techniques, and flavors.

In Northern Thailand, Pad Woon Sen is known as “Pad Woon Sen Chiang Mai.

It contains local ingredients like fermented soybean paste and pickled cabbage, giving it a tangy taste.

Meanwhile, Pad Woon Sen from the south has chili peppers and shrimp paste, making it spicier.

Bangkok-style Pad Thai is well-known.

It has a balance of sweet, salty, and tangy.

However, in Ayutthaya and Phuket, extra ingredients like dried shrimps or preserved radish may be added for umami.

Chefs and restaurants make their own versions of these classic dishes.

They might add extra vegetables or herbs, or use different sauces for unique flavors.

Even within a region, there can be multiple versions of Pad Woon Sen and Pad Thai.

Explore the different regional variations of Pad Woon Sen and Pad Thai.

Try the tanginess of Northern-style Pad Woon Sen or the balanced sweetness of Bangkok-style Pad Thai.

Taste Thailand’s rich food culture.

How to Choose Between Pad Woon Sen and Pad Thai?

Trying to choose between Pad Woon Sen or Pad Thai? It’s important to consider a few factors.

Both dishes come from Thailand and include noodles.

But, they have different ingredients with distinct flavors.

Pad Thai is more popular.

It’s made of stir-fried rice noodles, eggs, tofu, bean sprouts, peanuts and a sauce of tamarind paste, fish sauce and palm sugar.

This creates a mix of sweet, savory and sour.

Pad Woon Sen is less well-known. It features glass noodles made of mung bean flour.

Cooked, they have a slippery texture.

This dish contains stir-fried veggies like mushrooms, carrots, bell peppers and onions.

It offers a range of proteins, like shrimp or chicken.

When picking between them, think about your taste.

If you like sweet and sour flavors with crunch from peanuts, go with Pad Thai.

If you’d rather have glass noodles with veggies for freshness, try Pad Woon Sen.

Both dishes give a delightful experience that show off the vibrant flavors of Thailand.

So either one is sure to please.


After delving into the world of Pad Woon Sen and Pad Thai, it’s clear that these two beloved dishes have a lot to offer.

While they both use similar ingredients such as egg, bean sprouts, and tofu, their preparation can make all the difference in terms of taste.

Not only do Pad Woon Sen and Pad Thai provide contrast with their flavors, but also in terms of texture.

The difference between crisp noodles on one hand and soft noodles on the other was vast.

While many recognize Pad Thai has the superior go-to street food dish across Thailand, Pad Woon Sen’s light yet delicious flavors should not be underestimated and shouldn’t be given any less of an appreciation.

Whether you prefer a classic rendition with complex flavors or a light and fresh version of this famous delicacy from Thailand; you’ll certainly find something to love with each dish.

Don’t forget about Pad Mee (Noodle Soup) either; Chow mein can give your palate a break from stir frying dishes.

So next time you crave authentic flavors created in Thailand let your taste buds enjoy the multitude of variations found in this beloved cuisine.

Pad Woon Sen vs Pad Thai: What’s the Difference?

Explore the nuances between Pad Woon Sen and Pad Thai with our quick guide. Discover the key differences in flavors and ingredients that distinguish these two popular Thai dishes.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course This vs That
Servings 1 Serving


  • Pad Woon Sen
  • Pad Thai


  • Choose between Pad Woon Sen and Pad Thai based on your preference.
  • Follow the specific recipe instructions for your chosen dish.
  • Prepare the ingredients accordingly, ensuring you have everything you need.
  • Cook and enjoy your selected Thai noodle dish, savoring the distinct flavors of Pad Woon Sen or Pad Thai.
  • Feel free to experiment with different ingredients and customize your dish to suit your taste preferences.
Keyword Pad Woon Sen vs Pad Thai
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