Opened in 1991, Ban Thai excels in authenticity, from the décor to the food. The furniture and accessories that liven up the space and create such a wonderful ambience are the real deal: virtually everything was purchased on one of the owner's trips back home to Thailand. The chef recreates traditional dishes that are every bit as genuine as anything you'd eat in Thailand. Follow a tropical cocktail (perhaps the Loam Pad Koh with pineapple juice and coconut rum) with chicken satay, Som Tham salad, or chili-spiced fish cakes. The Pad Thai is widely acknowledged to be the best in Edmonton, and there are a variety of mild and spicy curries with different meats like chicken, beef, pork, squid and shrimp; much of the menu can also be prepared vegetarian style.
The diminutive size of this popular restaurant is no indication of the flavors you'll encounter. The bold cuisines of Laos and Thailand – spicy curries, piquant rice and noodle dishes – are the staple here, with traditional tastes of Thai basil, coconut milk, tamarind, kaffir lime and hot chilis. The ever-present owners are super friendly and helpful, and the take-out trade keeps the atmosphere lively all day. A favorite with local foodies!
Despite its somewhat off-the-beaten path location and an admirable reluctance to advertise, Lemongrass is a thriving little café that relies of word of mouth for its loyal and ever-expanding list of regulars. Traditional Vietnamese cooking is the focus: lovely curries combining all manner of meats, vegetables and fruits in spicy sauces redolent of coconut milk, lemongrass, chiles and basil. Warming noodle and rice bowls, and fantastic spring rolls round out the menu. Well worth seeking out, Lemongrass is a real find!
Edmonton is not lacking for Vietnamese restaurants, but Bach Dang stands out for its extensive menu, super-friendly service, and easy-on-the-wallet prices. The soups here are stellar, deep bowls of soul-satisfying goodness that hit the spot on cold winter evenings. The satay beef soup, in particular, draws legions of swooning fans. Steaming broth laden with noodles, red chiles, lemongrass, a few vegetables and rare beef that finishes cooking as soon as it hits the bowl – top it all off with scallions and crushed peanuts, and what you have is a meal fit for a king.
Brother-sister team Wilson and Judy Wu deserve every bit of praise that comes their way. Wild Tangerine manages to be the perfect combination of trendy décor, a youthful vibe, super friendly service, and top-notch, eclectic cooking, with a fantastic by-the-glass wine list and creative original cocktails to boot. The menu is a delightful fusion of Asian cuisines, flecked with Western influences. For example, among the starters you'll find a salad of grilled five-spice octopus with spicy tangerine vinaigrette, and potato fries with star anise and homemade ketchup! Main course options might include fabulous bison short ribs, Thai green curry with prawns and tortilglioni, Indian-spiced lamb, or even lemon Rooibus tea dusted salmon with hemp oil. Desserts are just as inventive – save room!
Although short on ambience, Numchok Wilai delivers when it comes to fantastic Thai food. The cooking is authentic and flavorful, with plenty of lemongrass, coconut milk, chilis, garlic, ginger, peanuts and fish sauce. You'll find the usual rice and noodle dishes, curries and soups, each fragrant and satisfying. If you're wary of spicy foods, rest assured that there are several options here that are every bit as wonderful but won't set your tongue on fire.
Now for something a little different – Edmonton has a plethora of Asian restaurants, but Tropika is the first to focus on Malaysian cuisine. There are similarities to Thai and Vietnamese – satays and curries, and many of the seasonings and spices (lemongrass, chiles) will be familiar. But Tropika uses additional flavors like tamarind and star anise, giving another dimension to dishes you thought you'd probably already tried. Desserts are unusually good, too – be sure to try a gelato creation!
This little eatery is way off the beaten path, but well worth finding. The menu stretches to some 80 items, and once you figure out where it is, you may want to come back repeatedly just to sample everything, from panang chicken curry to drunken shrimp. Curry, citrus, basil, and the heat of chiles are the hallmark flavors of Thai cuisine, and Bua Thai uses them quite well. Combinations of spices, herbs and coconut milk pair beautifully with noodles, vibrant fresh vegetables and tender pieces of meat – you will leave feeling more than satisfied!
King and I opened in 1973 and has the distinction of being a favorite of the Rolling Stones and various other celebrities, as well as being a perennial winner among the local "Best of..." polls. To an expert, this may not be the most authentic Thai food in town. But don't be too much of a food snob or you'll miss out on a great meal. All the usual suspects are on the menu: pad Thai, satay, tom kha gai, panang ghai, and assorted other flavorful dishes. Spiciness is a bit less than you'd find at some other places, but if you're new to Thai that may even be a selling point for you. Service is professional and friendly, and the décor is appealingly Eastern.
Edmonton has a plethora of good, casual, inexpensive Asian eateries, but Doan's is among the best. The hallmarks of Vietnamese cuisine – abundant fresh vegetables, tender noodles and meats, and bright seasonings – are all in evidence here. Start with spring rolls or crispy wontons. Main dishes arrive steaming hot in big portions – try rice vermicelli noodles stir fried with barbecued pork, shrimp and greens, or lemongrass scented chicken. Exotic tropical milkshakes are a wonderful cooling treat for dessert.