Using authentic, natural ingredients and a wealth of traditional recipes, Kullanit Nya is bringing a taste of Thailand to Airdrie.
Situated in a quaint, pleasant setting in Bayside Village, Thai Charm Eatery’s owner Nya brings more than a decade of experience to the local culinary scene.
With no Thai restaurants in Airdrie, and having a long history of family involvement in Calgary restaurants, Nya saw an opportunity to expand local taste buds with genuine, long-established flavours from her home country.
“We want to keep things very authentic, what exactly is being served in Thailand. We try the hardest to bring all the ingredients as fresh as we [can],” says Nya, who, along with her sister, helped manage Calgary restaurants Thai Nongkhai and De Thai.
Thai Charm Eatery, which opened in September, hosts a menu that traverses the palate of Thailand by offering the diverse, distinctive delicacies found throughout the north, south and coastal regions of the Southeast Asian country.
“This menu is more mixed. We have yellow curry from the north, room-temperature salad from the northeast of Thailand. We have some curry from the south, as well, but most of the (menu) is a mix that is served in the middle of Thailand,” Nya says.
Alongside head chef Steve Thibodeau who worked in Calgary and trained in Thailand, Nya has incorporated genuine ingredients and flavours to their menu with the use of a pantry full of spices and fresh herbs.
Intended to stimulate and excite the five senses – sour, hot, sweet, salty and neutral – Thai cuisine is designed around a balance of textures and flavours.
From traditional curries to the popular pad Thai noodle dishes, Thai Charm Eatery blends fresh ingredients using galangal, lemon grass, chili pepper, kaffir lime leaf and a multitude of other established Asian spices and flavour profiles.
“Our sauces are homemade with our family recipes that use only fresh herbs and spices imported from Thailand, which makes the food very authentic and aromatic,” Nya says.
“We have tasty, healthy food and everything is homemade. The curry paste and Thai sauce is all made here. We don’t buy sauce from a jar; everything is homemade in the house.”
Curries are presented in three colours – green, red and yellow – and can be had with chicken, beef, pork, shrimp and seafood or as a vegetarian dish. Stir-fries include a diverse mixture of lemon grass, basil, peanut sauce, sweet and sour, ginger and a ‘drunken’ house-roasted hot-chili-paste fry.
Combination meals are also available for two or more diners with a variety of spring rolls, spicy-and-sour soups with herbal coconut, an assortment of vegetables, Pad Thai shrimp and beef satay.
The chef’s favourites include light-battered crispy candy chicken, crying tiger tender grilled beef and spicy shrimp, just to name a few.
Depending on the amount of peppers in the dish, offered on a one-to-three ratio, diners can experience sensations ranging from a mild heat to a tongue-tingling spicy temperature guaranteed to wake up any palate.
“We basically make the food in the middle range [of heat],” Nya says. “The customers can order whatever they prefer, hotter or milder, and we can customize all this.”
Satisfying appetites doesn’t mean compromising a healthy lifestyle at the Yankee Valley Boulevard restaurant. The gastronomic location offers several options, including dairy-free dishes and gluten-free products for the health conscious. As well, dishes are combined with a light jasmine or coconut rice.
“Thai food is very, very healthy. In red curry we use four or five different spices,” Nya adds. “We use very low sodium and customers can order food gluten free and MSG free.”