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Edmonton - Tropika Barely Mediocre

I've gotta have a good meal out soon. With two disappointments this week (see my review of oriental veggie house) and now Tropika, I'm going to somewhere solid and dependable next. Probably Boualoung.
Anyway, my SO and I were headed to Syphay not realizing that they are currently closed for summer holidays. Since we were parked and starving, we decided to go to Tropika, next door. I have read mixed reviews on here but couldn't remember what people say to order. The restaurant wasn't packed, but there were quite a few busy tables. It was 31 degrees outside so we drank only water. We ordered three dishes: Thai Style Green Curry (chicken), pad thai, and Sambal Bunchies (green beans). The best of the three was the green bean dish. It wasn't spicy, even though the word "sambal" was in the title, but I got over that and enjoyed the crunchiness and was very glad they weren't overcooked. The worst dish was the pad thai. I don't care for it in general, but my SO must try it everytime we are in a new place that offers it. There were several problems with this dish. When it first came out, I thought it looked like spaghetti and tomato sauce. It wasn't spaghetti, but the noodles were thicker than most vermicelli noodles. The sauce was ketchup-y, and the shrimps were almost non-existent. There were maybe three in the whole dish and they were very small. The tofu was the best part, but since it was covered in the sauce, it wasn't so good. It was served with a bunch of shredded, wilted, brown-edged iceberg lettuce. ew. As for the green curry, we both took one bite and looked at each other and said that it tasted a lot like the curry paste we currently have in our fridge. The kind we bought at TnT Market. But I think when we make green curry, it tastes better. This one was in need of more coconut milk since it was watery and not creamy at all. It was dark green. The chicken was good, but the veggies were lacking - upping the variety would have been nice. Rice didn't come with the curry, so we ordered some when it came and it was very dry. It did come out of the kitchen in about 2 minutes, so no surprise it was dry. The service was robotic but good - my water was always refilled - but the waiter kept trying to "upsell" us. He asked us many times about appetizers and dessert and alcoholic drinks. In the end, I wouldn't go back. If there are dishes chowhounders swear by, I might go once and try them, but based on this experience, I would rather make my own green curry at home.

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  1. That is sad to hear. I have had good good there, but it was some time ago. I have very good memories of hot and sour soup that was brothy, not thick like the Chinese variety.

    I did have good green curry at Bua Thai downtown and the Pad Thai was better than average too. The green curry at King and I was very good too, but I thought pricey.

    1. I've had mediocre experiences there as well. The only dishes I really like at tropica are their house chicken and their lamb satay. (They also will bring you a coconut juice from a fresh-cut young coconut - I'll give them that, it's refreshing).

      I was considering going to the West-end tropica today in order to try their Hainanese chicken, because I've never had Hainanese chicken, but I'm sort of glad I passed and visited Smokey Joe's instead.

      1. My family tends to stick to the same things....
        Any of the satays
        Mee Goreng
        Pineapple rice (for the kiddies)

        Those items usually get added with a few other Malaysian things, but usually I'd only order a pad thai or green curry in a Thai restaurant. They may have watered down the sambal for a western palate. I've found that the dishes they mark as hot are usually properly hot.

        4 Replies
        1. re: anonymoose

          ok - i will give it one more shot with the menu items you recommend.

          1. re: ihatepickyeaters

            I'd recommend someplace better, but unfortunately there isn't a whole lot of choice here when it comes to Malaysian food. Matahari has a few items on their menu that are decent if you want to try somewhere else.

            1. re: ihatepickyeaters

              Moose has it covered. There is only a small % of dishes that i really like there as well.

              For me, i stick to these dishes:

              Roti Canai
              Sambal Bunchies
              Homestyle Chicken
              Indonesian Spring Roll
              The Egg Plant dish
              and Laksa

              I believe M-Thu is still half price satay. You may want to check on that though.

              1. re: yen

                Don't mean to repeat the list, but it's interesting that I'm not the only one who always orders similar items:

                Satays, roti canai, sambal bunchies, homestyle chicken

                And I've always looked longingly at the pineapple rice at other tables, but spouse has never been interested.

                Perhaps if one sticks to more of the Malaysian foods (influenced by different cultures in S.E. Asia, particularly Indian and southern Chinese cooking) it might be a bit better?

          2. Funny, we were there Monday and liked what we had.
            Roti canai
            Fish filet in chili sauce - this and the beef were the Monday specials
            Beef with basil
            Pad Thai - not my favorite but an ok background to the other dishes. Ours certainly didn't have old lettuce on top and at least it had salted preserved radish which is often missing.

            The service was great.

            1 Reply
            1. re: sharonanne

              Tropika's 104th Street/60th Ave location is "featured" in a generally favourable column within the back page of today's [Saturday, August 16] LifeStyle section H of the Edmonton Journal

            2. We go about once a year and the only thing that we continuously order are their green beans [with shrimp (?) flakes on it]. It's the only thing that stands out for us or that we remember we really liked there.

              hmmm, I didn't know there was more than one location.

              1. I trust that eating at the Bualong got the bad taste out of your mouth ( if you like Bualong and Syphay you'll like Viphalay).

                I ended up at Tropika yesterday for lunch ( this was a compromise- my lunch companions were sushied and dim sumed out)
                We ordered three dishes from the main menu, not the lunch combination specials and enjoyed all three: home style chicken, their "best in the city" eggplant and the Hokkei mee . The home style chicken was good but a bit on the dry side,( I still prefer the cantonese style "crispy fried chicken"), the "prawns" in the mee were a few medium size shrimp but the mixed noodle portion was generous. The eggplant dish could have been a little less oily, but that is fried eggplant for you.
                In sum, it seems that, like in most restaurants, you can do well if you order a few true and tried dishes. Next time we might add roti, green beans, and satay and mee goreng as recommended in this thread. Would also like to try their fish, any suggestions for fish dishes that are not breaded and/or deep fried?

                1 Reply
                1. re: felix the hound

                  Follow up. Went back with the family. Did try the roti, the green beans , and the satay. Wedid not order fish because all the fish dishes are made with fried fish ( according to our server they have to be fried first to remove the bitterness) The roti, beans and satays were all good and enjoyable, but the food in general would benefit from a lighter hand with the oil, (although I realize it might end up being less authentic. )

                2. does anyone know if they still have half price satays anymore?

                  1. I really think that back when Tropika made its reputation in Edmonton, most Edmontonians wouldn't have had a jar of Thai curry paste in the fridge.

                    People are much shrewder now about many more different kinds of food. If anything it's evidence that, perhaps, Tropika never had its s**t together in the way everyone thought.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Delmare

                      Matahari got better food then Tropika.

                      1. re: bubblepuffer

                        They only have a few Malaysia dishes though.... if they had more I would be much happier.

                        1. re: anonymoose

                          The one time I was at Mata Hari ,shortly after they opened, I concluded that I could get better Vietnamese at a Vietnamese restaurant , better Thai at a Thai restaurant, etc. Do I understand you correctly that they might be a good option for Malaysian dishes? What else would you recommend there?

                          1. re: felix the hound

                            I had the curry laksa not too long ago and it was definitely decent, if more than I wanted to pay for a noodle soup (too many memories of cheap food in Malaysia, I think).

                            Had the mee goreng there a long time ago and it was ok too, although it doesn't look like it's on the menu anymore. At that time we also tried a few of their curries and they were good.

                    2. I just went there last night. We ordered about 8 dishes. Only the Hoinan chicken dish was decent. Pancake was too small; curry beef was too chewy; clams were too salty; Malaysia fried rice was too sweet and sticky; dessert was way too sweet and totally gross.

                      Sorry, but I have to delete this restaurant from my list for now.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: why73224001

                        I agree, our last visit there was very disappointing. The quality of the food was quite poor. We will not be back.