Thai & Chinese Express - Irvine

2540 Main Street
Irvine, CA 92614

Could one of the best Pad Thai and Pad See Ew in Orange County come from a food court in Irvine????

On my first visit to Thai and Chinese Express, I ordered a two-item combo from the pick what you want, a la most Chinese takeout fast food places. For my first item, I went with the orange chicken which is always a favorite of mine.  Their version was OK, but my second item was the yellow curry. The curry was some of the best curry that I have had in a while, with the heat of the curry definitely present, the taste of the coconut wasn't overwhelming and the kaffir lime leaves giving off their distinct flavoring. I could really taste the complexity of the curry with all of the various components coming together.

Pad See Ew with beef - 6.25
The pad see ew, unlike the heated steam tray items, is made to order. When opening the styrofoam container the vapor and the essence of the slightly sweet, smoky, and meaty aroma makes its way directly to my nose, which in turn, kicks my salivary glands in overdrive.

The noodles are cooked to a perfect texture. They aren't mushy and too soft but a perfect consistency that gives just the right amount of resistance when bitten into. My meat of choice with pad see ew is beef. Thai and Chinese Express does a wonderful job of cooking the meat and slightly carmelizing it. I have eaten the pad see ew on 3 different occasion here, and each and every time, there have been broccoli and carrots, but they have also added broccolini and bok choy on a few of my visits.

Pad Thai with chicken - 6.25
Usually when I got to Thai restaurants, I always order pad see ew and pad thai as my gauge to how good the restaurant is. The pad thai, like the pad see ew, is excellent. The noodles are cooked to perfection and the hard-to-describe flavor of pad thai is spot on. The chef uses just the right amount of tamarind, fish sauce, and other spices to flavor the pad thai. Not too sweet, salty, or spicy (unless spicy is your thing, they'll have no problem accommodating you).

Portions of noodles and food at Thai and Chinese Express are very generous, filling a large styrofoam container for only $6.25. Another item not to be missed is their Thai tea. I consider myself a bit of a Thai tea connoisseur and theirs is the perfect blend of tea to milk/cream ratio, with the flavor of the tea being evident and the tea not being cavity-inducingly sweet.

Where Thai and Chinese Express shines in my opinion is not the Chinese food but definitely the Thai food. After chatting with owner/chef for a bit, I found out why. The owners are from Thailand. This little food court restaurant is serving up some very authentic and delicious Thai dishes.

So, does one of the best pad thai and pad see ew come from a food court in Irvine? The verdict is... YES!! Since this is a business food court the hours a bit strange. Open Mon-Fri 10:30 to 8:00. Saturdays from 12:00 to 5:00.



705 North1st St Suite #110
Phoenix, AZ 85004

"The best way to make a quality product is to infuse quality at every chance." This is PastaBAR's philosophy. PastaBAR specializes in using only high quality ingredients and freshly made pasta each and every day. They had me at freshly made pasta. Or did they???

Chef/Owner Wade Moises once worked at both Lupa and Babbo, part of Mario Batali's restaurant empire. After working at these restaurants, I assume that Wade Moises must have a pretty good idea how to cook Italian by now.

PastaBAR definitely has a casual vibe and a minimalistic approach to the design of the restaurant. Naked light bulbs hang from the ceiling. A huge wooden framed mirror, complementing the red wall, opens up the room.

Local Farm Vegetables - 10
We started off with a plate of local farm vegetables. On the plate was an enjoyable mix of squash, swiss chard with a grating of parmesan that was lightly dressed, and a mixture of bell pepper, onions, and eggplant?? I enjoyed the natural sweetness of the squash. The swiss chard was equally as good with the parmesan adding a nice element of saltiness to the swiss chard. I didn't care too much for the mixture of onions bell peppers and eggplant.

Desert Sweet Shrimp - 9
A very simple plating of shrimp that was very lightly seasoned to allow the natural flavors of the shrimp to shine. The flavors of the shrimp were fresh and clean, but I would have appreciated if there was more seasoning to take the shrimp to another level.

Bavette al Cedro - lemon, Italian butter, Parmigiano -11
This dish tasted just like the description. I tasted a lot of lemon, some butter, and a bit of parmigiano. The lemon on this dish overwhelmed the other flavors and I felt like there wasn't enough salt or parmigiano to counter the acidity of the lemon. The texture of the pasta was wonderful, but some flavors were muted while others were too prominent.

Fettuccini e Finocchio - fennel pesto, raisins, pine nuts, hot peppers, lemon, anchovy - 14
Reading the description of the dish, I thought there would be tons of flavor and when the dish was brought out by the server, I still had the same assumption. Looks can be deceiving. For me this dish had nice texture with the bread crumbs, pine nuts, raisins, and the texture of the pasta, but lacked the herby flavor associated with pesto and some good ole salt. This is my first time having a fennel pesto as opposed to a basil one. Maybe fennel pesto is a much more subdued pesto. Not sure, but didn't care for this dish much.

Orecchiette alla Puttanesca…12 ingredients from the Neapolitan streetwalker’s pantry - 15
A streetwalker's pantry? Is a streetwalker the same as a night walker? Someone paid for "services"? I guess that in Italy there are 12 ingredients that everyone of these people happen to have in their pantry. I don't remember what the 12 ingredients were but, here are a few that I can see from the picture and remember eating: breadcrumbs, pine nuts, olives, raisins, pasta, anchovy, and quite a few others. The 12 ingredient description had me intrigued. I thought this dish was one of the better dishes we had at PastaBAR. Nothing outstanding or something I am looking forward to eating again but good. I enjoyed the amalgam of flavors with sweetness of the raisins, saltiness of the olives, and the textural differences.

Gnocchi alla Lupa...sweet and spicy fennel sausage ragu - 15
The winner by far for the night was the gnocchi! PastaBAR's version is made with ricotta cheese as opposed to the potato version. These gnocchi were like canadian goose down pillowly light or like little pillows of clouds. The ragu perfectly complemented the gnocchi with the slightly sweet and slightly spicy flavors of the tomato sauce. 


"The best way to make a quality product is to Infuse quality at every chance." I do believe this statement to be true for 100% of things in the world we live in. Does this always translate to a wonderful product or experience? Not, in our experience of PastaBAR. Although there were a few good dishes we enjoyed most were just just average.