Sitting on the border between Warsaw and Winona Lake is the appropriately named International Foods. While not straddling an international line of demarcation, the best pad thai in either one of these friendly communities, or the area for that matter, can be found behind its strip-mall-fronting door.
The delicious dish comes packaged in a standard issue Styrofoam container because there is no seating. You’ll have to enjoy their take on this classic somewhere else as carry out is the only option. If you feel an unabated urge to take in the whole international experience, I’m sure you could find a spot among the rows of countless international products to lean up against. There’s no guarantee they won’t politely ask you to leave … or offer you a seat because they’re polite like that.
Wherever you choose to enjoy the pad thai from International Foods, make sure it’s nearby because the smells seeping like a siren song from the Styrofoam container will have you soon salivating. I won’t go into details about their pad thai. If you’ve had the dish, you’ll already know what’s in it. If you haven’t, my try-to-sound-like-a-proper-food-critic adjectives won’t do it justice. It just works (I seriously couldn’t stop plowing through it with my plastic fork) and you can owe that to the people in the kitchen.
When you grow up preparing and eating a dish passed down from generations, you know what works and what doesn’t. The family-run International Foods has a kitchen staff filled with people from the region where pad thai is a staple. That means they know what they’re doing. I know from personal experience. Whenever someone asks me where I go for Chinese food, I tell them “my mom.” Her Vietnamese culture’s take on Chinese food (almost everything in Southeast Asia can be traced back to China) trumps anything served in a Chinese/Vietnamese restaurant. The same applies to International Foods.
What did we learn? International Foods isn’t just a grocery store, people from Southeast Asia know how to prepare pad thai, you can find the best food in some of the most unexpected places, nothing beats your mom’s cooking and I really hate diving into the details and nuances of a dish. At the end of the day, just trust me. The pad thai’s off the hook. Just pray your plastic fork doesn’t break as you plow through it like a snowplow barreling through a bunch of the white fluffy stuff. That would suck.
For more information on International Foods, check out their Facebook page. It’s updated regularly so you can even peruse it while eating their pad thai. Just sayin’.
UPDATE: International Foods has closed as they focus their efforts on their newest project, the restaurant Asian-Cajun.