Best Authentic Thai & Chinese in Calgary
I've combed this board and elsewhere for high-end, fancy food places for my in-laws who will be visiting you all next month (Teatro, Alloy, Capo, Rush, River Cafe, Chef's Table, Blowfish, Jaro Blue, etc.), but there's just anecdotal stuff on real deal Thai and Chinese, and they're craving it. Price/location absolutely immaterial. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
I had a nice dinner at Tai Pan not too long ago. I like going to Calgary Court for lunch. It's not a fancy looking place so not sure that would be the best place to bring in-laws.
Tai Pan Restaurant - 171 1518 Centre St. NE
Calgary Court Restaurant - 119 2 Ave SE
I'm not an expert but to my understanding there are a several strains of Chinese done well and widespread here. One is the HK-style cafe, among which Calgary Court is an example and IMO one of the most interesting restaurants in Chinatown, one with food that is delicious and incredible value. We also have a fair number of the cavernous by-Chinese, for-Chinese restos that you find (in Canada) in strips like Richmond BC and along Hwy 7 north of Toronto; one great example of this is T-Pot Bistro in Harvest Hills NW of the airport- there are neighbourhoods in the far N and NW of Calgary that are 40% or more Chinese and these are great areas to explore for 21st Century Chinese ethnoburb sorts of restos. But for all that my two faves in Calgary are still tiny, Taiwanese Han's in Chinatown and,for dim sum, Harbour City, also in Chinatown, but there are dozens of other options. Calgary's Chinese population is huge by NA standards (more the 6% of the city's population is Chinese) and there is no lack of authenticity.
Thai? That's tougher. There are some very decent Thai places in town but I'm not sure about authenticity. That said I really like Thai Bistro in Chinatown and, lately, the Thai Place West (I think that's what it's called) in Motel Village. I've only been to these two and of course I go to Ruan Thai at least weekly for their lunch buffet so there's a start.
Oh, I have to second 23skid's suggestion of Delicious Country for some really interesting, not dumbed-down Chinese treats.
re: John Manzo
Han's has both Taiwanese and Szechuan style food. If they can handle heat (chilies), this is the place to go. Here are some of my favourite dishes:
- wontons in red sauce (basically garlic chili oil)
- their eggplant dishes (there is a spicy and non-spicy version; both are very good)
- there is a spicy mung bean vermicelli dish with pork that is very good; i forget the exact name on the menu but it does say something about spicy mung bean vermicelli with pork
- spicy fish stew with tofu; it's almost like a spicy bouillabaisse; it has A LOT of chilies in it. We usually ask them to tone it down a notch. This dish is very addictive if you like spicy food. It's a really bright flavours. Again I can't remember the exact name of the dish on the menu. It comes in a metal dish with a burner below to keep it warm. It is a very popular dish at the restaurant and you will see a lot of people ordering it.
- they also have braised oxtail; again both a spicy and non-spicy version. Both are also very good.
- their taiwanese style beef noodle soups are also very flavourful.
I paid a little more attention to the menu today when I went for lunch and got the names of the dishes I had mentioned for you:
- the spicy fish stew with tofu is labelled as "spicy fish hot pot" on the menu
- eggplant dishes - non-spicy was labelled as "soy sauce egglant"; spicy version was labelled as "szechuan eggplant"
- spicy mung bean vermicelli was labelled as "stir fry spicy bean vermicelli".
Btw, Han's is closed on Mondays.
I would suggest Pine Lake for dim sum (118 5 Avenue SE Calgary, AB T2G 0E2 (403) 266-3720) or Golden Inn (107A 2 Avenue SE Calgary, AB T2G 0B2 (403) 269-2211) for dinner. Both places would have the phantom Chinese only menu in addition to the menu with pictures and English translation menu. For Hk style cafe food, you can go to one of the following: Calgary Court, Sun Chiu Kee, Pebble Street or T-Pot which are owned by the same people.
Taipan on Centre Street N, diagonally across from Sun Chiu Kee, Lambda Supermarket is alright for dim sum and dinner, but I found I needed a lot of Bo-Lei tea to digest and cut the greasiness of the meals.
Does anyone know if T-Pot would be a good place for Chinese dinner? I mean order a few meat/veggie dishes and rice. Or is it something like Sun Chiu Kee where it's better to order noodles and congee and such?