Most of the dishes on the menu of a Thai restaurant have names in Thai. So when there’s one in English, it stands out. Especially when it has a funny or unusual name. If you haven’t guessed the dish we’re talking about, it’s Drunken Noodles. What kind of a name is that? You’ve probably come across it when ordering Massachusetts Thai food and wondered why the heck it’s called that.
Because of the name, many people mistakenly think that there is alcohol in Drunken Noodles. While there is more than one story about the name of this dish (more on that later), none of them have anything to do with the ingredients. Like many Thai dishes, there are variations on Drunken Noodles, but wide rice noodles are the base for all of them. Diners who have experience with Thai food know that Drunken Noodles are very spicy, and are often the spiciest item on the menu.
There are many explanations for the name “drunken noodles,” and a lot of them have to do with their extreme spiciness. Some say that because the noodles are so spicy, you’d have to drink a lot to handle it. Along similar lines, another explanation is that the noodles are so spicy because that is the only flavor strong enough for very intoxicated people to taste.
Continuing with people who have been drinking, another explanation suggests that these noodles are something people would make after drinking all night. They would throw whatever they had to hand in it, and the result was some very spicy noodles. One local story goes that a woman made them to teach her husband a lesson. She was tired of his heavy drinking, so she concocted something extra spicy.
There is one last story that doesn’t actually have anything to do with drinking. The Thai name for Drunken Noodles is Pad Kee Mao. Apparently, US soldiers during the Vietnam War found that name difficult to pronounce. Locals thought the Americans sounded drunk trying to say the Thai words, and the name stuck.
We’re proud to bring authentic Thai food to Massachusetts at White Coconut Thai. Want something as spicy as Drunken Noodles? Try our Crazy Noodles or Basil Pad Thai. Super spicy food not your thing? There are plenty of milder options on our menu, too!