Never Judge A Book By Its Cover: Or That Time I Ate At Lan’s

118th Ave in Edmonton has a notorious reputation for being that “sketchy” area your mom has warned you about. Which sucks because I know a fair amount of people that live in that area and there’s a TON of hidden shops and restaurants down there that not a lot of people know about. So after years of being told to visit this restaurant called Lan’s Asian Grill, located at 11826 103 St NW, I was weary of taking the trip down there…Even though I’ve been going to NAIT (which is literally down the road) for the past four years.

Source: Trip Advisor

But after years of avoiding the place, I finally decided to give Lan’s a shot…

I remember the day I went to Lan’s for the first time like it was yesterday (it actually happened a week or two ago). I woke up early (and by early i mean 5:30 AM) to see a screening of Spectre with a couple of friends, but after the screening we needed a place to chow down. I recommended dim sum, but my companions recommended we head to Lan’s. As soon as they brought up Lan’s I immediately thought, “Dammit I’m really not in the mood for a new place…Scratch that, my BODY isn’t in the mood for a new place.” This was mostly due to fact that I had to wake up at 5:30 AM and drive to the Southside for a (mostly) mediocre James Bond movie that waspoorlywrittenandwastedChristophWaltzasavillain*sigh* /rant over…Sorry about that, I get REALLY upset thinking about that movie.

What I was trying to say was that I just wasn’t having a decent morning (although I did get to hang out with some great company mind you). But it was 2 against 1 and I thought, “oh what the hell. Let’s try Lan’s.” So as we drove to the restaurant, I wanted to get some information on Lan’s to prepare my body and from what my friends told me due to the fact that the friends I was hanging out with have been regulars at Lan’s. What I’ve heard from them was nothing but good things:

  • The food is AMAZING
  • Pad thai is authentic (okay you have my interest)
  • The service is SUPER friendly
  • The manager, Tom, makes an effort to remember your name (keep this one in mind for later)
  • And they serve drunken noodles (okay now you have my attention)
    • (For those of you who have never had drunken noodles, order up a plate and thank me later.)

So I pulled up to parking lot in front of Lan’s and took a look at the exterior. I’m going to go ahead and say that it is REALLY EASY to miss this place. I mean the stores located in the immediate vicinity don’t exactly scream “classy” with the Dollarama and the Value Village drawing your attention over the other stores. I wouldn’t blame a person for barely noticing the stores in this lot because it’s located on 118th Ave. But when we walked into the restaurant, I didn’t see a run down dive, instead I was treated to a clean, well-lit, surprisingly cozy restaurant.

One of the things that definitely caught my eye walking in was a sign that emphasized the fact they they believe in using local, fresh ingredients. YES. PLEASE.It’s one thing to provide authentic dishes, but to see that you’re not cutting corners in terms of the quality of ingredients? That’s a solid win in my books.

So I haven’t even ordered my food yet and I’m already impressed by Lan’s. Looking at the menu, you have what one would normally come to expect from a typical Thai restaurant as well as some other additions as well:

  • Pad Thai
  • Tom Yum Soup
  • Thai Green Curry
  • Thai Red Curry
  • Drunken Noodles
  • Tom Yum Fried Rice
  • Savoury Steak Bites

When I walked up to order my meal, I was greeted by a fellow named Tom, who happened to be the manager of the restaurant. What stuck out while I ordered my meal is the level of genuine service and attitude I received from Tom. You can tell he’s really happy to see customers try the food and have a good time. I ended up ordering some pad thai with a mild level of spice and my friends ordered up a plate of the steak bites and pad thai.

After dropping my name (I really wanted to see if he remembered my name when I leave) and taking a seat, I began to soak in the scenery. Like I said, the overall interior atmosphere of Lan’s is cozy and well-lit. Numerous accolades take up a portion of the wall beside the cash register to give you a sense of what you’re in for and to really emphasize that fact that they can talk the talk AND walk the walk at the same time.

Then my food arrived…In a timely manner too!

My food was served in a small plastic container which kind of made me go “umm what?” because I thought I ordered my meal to stay. I honestly can’t remember given my state of mind at the time, so for all I know I could’ve said I wanted my stuff to go. But then I noticed the plastic lid had a label saying, “Not fake or fancy. Just a whole lot of fresh food & tasty. Lan’s Asian Grill. Casual Restaurant Fare.” At that point I understood what I was in for and dismissed the fact it wasn’t served on a plate (now that I think about it, that is a SUPER trivial thing to pick on…Mostly due to the fact that there’s next to nothing negative I can say about this place) . One of the things I appreciate from Lan’s is that they want to focus on the quality of the food, over everything else. If they can serve up some high quality dishes for you, you will end up having a positive experience overall. Like their said, “it’s all about the food anyways…” So kudos to Lan’s for that!

At this point, you’re probably wondering: How was the food?? I’m gonna be blunt with you guys, it was f***ing delicious. My pad thai had just the right amount of sauce and everything, from the noodles, to the vegetables and chicken, was cooked to perfection. My dish wasn’t swimming in a sea of peanuts, but had just the right amount to compliment the rest of the flavours in the dish. For the $14 I paid for the dish, I can’t help but feel as though I got more than I paid for. I was full by the time I finished my plate and the pad thai itself was flavourful. When I finished up, I immediately began to regret not getting another dish on the menu. I was hungry for more. That’s how amazing the food was.

When we got up to leave, Tom greeted us on the way out and actually called me out by name, which was a really nice way to end off a delicious lunch.

Overall, this place is fantastic. If you’re a fan of Thai food, please show this place some love. They’re very accommodating for people with different diets (ex. gluten free, vegan/vegetarian, etc.) and I can guarantee that there’s something for everybody on the menu. The service is classy and they make you feel welcome from the minute you walk through their door. Sure the place is located in a sketchy area, but don’t let that scare you away from Lan’s. That restaurant is anything but sketchy and I have nothing but praise for this place. So if you’re in the area (especially to all of my NAIT friends), show this place some love.

With that said, food DEFINITELY lives here.

PS I visited Lan’s a couple of days ago and Tom actually remembered my name. I have now made it my mission to try out the Tom Yum Fried Rice because Tom describes it as “legendary”…The food I ordered was also still f***ing amazing by the way.