In one of my early experiments with cooking, I made a serviceable (but not Thai 55 or Snail) pad thai. The next day, I went in to work, and was so impressed with myself - I bragged to a friend that I, incredibly, had made pad thai AT HOME last night. "Wow. So did 10 million Thai people, by the way," said my bubble-bursting friend. For me the fish sauce is the canary ingredient in evaluating pad thai recipes - if the recipe you're looking at doesn't ask for it, don't even bother. Plus when you make it at home, you can leave off the sprouts.
Good lord, yes. Most fast-food Thai places sprinkle the peanuts on after you order (presumably not for allergy reasons, since a person with a peanut allergy would be insane to eat at a fast-food Thai place). Why can't they do this with the sprouts too? So much better without the sprouts.