Tuk Tuk Thai

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Tuk Tuk. If you’ve visited Thailand before, you definitely have seen those three-wheeled taxis running amok on the local streets. Just like how it operates as an affordable transport taking visitors to discover the country’s hot spots, Tuk Tuk Thai promises to bring the diners a truly enjoyable, authentic Thai experience.

Tuk Tuk Thai Calgary Restaurant

Tuk Tuk Thai Calgary Restaurant

With Buddha artwork covering one side of the room and photos of Thailand occupying another, Tuk Tuk Thai really has put in great efforts to showcase the true images of Thailand to the Calgarians. It really wouldn’t take much for one to notice the importance of the Buddhism in Thailand, along with the stunning natural beauty, tropical beaches, and friendly people that make it a wonderful paradise.

To further illustrate what a ‘tuk tuk’ really is, the owner even brought in a real tuk tuk to the restaurant as a part of the display. But instead of carrying passengers, the taxi was transformed into a cooler of grab-and-go items like snacks and drinks.

Tuk Tuk Thai Calgary Restaurant

Ordering is simple here: place your order with the cashier and pick it up when the food is ready! It’s 100% self-serve.

Tuk Tuk Thai Calgary Restaurant

3 communal tables stretched across the room, promoting conviviality if not privacy. This again echoed with the ride-sharing arrangements sometimes taken up by solo travellers to split the fare.

As we took our seat, food was already waiting to be picked up at the counter. Let us dig in!

To-go packaging at Tuk Tuk Thai, Calgary

all food was assembled in to-go packaging, making it super easy to pack up leftovers.

$10 A La Carte

Packaged compactly inside to-go boxes, the à la carte items opened up like a lotus blooming. Beautiful, isn’t it? ?

Moo Moo Lemon (Moo Nam-Tok) from Tuk Tuk Thai, Calgary

moo moo lemon (moo nam-tok)

Frequent trips to Thailand during my childhood years in Malaysia introduced me to authentic flavors of Thai food, if nothing else. Moo Nam Tok translates to ‘waterfall pork’ in Thai, meaning the meat should still contain blood/juices running out from it, as a waterfall, when sliced. Usually, the pork is grilled first until pink and then sliced and mixed in with the spicy sauce and herbs.

At Tuk Tuk Thai, the use of lean pork shoulder gave the barbecue meat a firm, chewy texture. Fresh minty aroma with a great intensity of sourness attacked the palate – it must be from the mixture of shallots, lemongrass, mint, and lime chili dressing. Few things I found missing here: 1) I didn’t really taste the roasted rice crumb in the dish, which was supposed to give it a pleasant toasted fragrance and lively texture, 2) where’s the chili? Without the tingling sensation of chili, each bite just got more and more unbearably sour, 3) I asked for coconut rice, but where’s that delicious coconut flavor??

Same for the beef masman curry (also called massaman curry), which was supposed to be mildly spicy, nutty, rich and flavorful given its strong Indian influence, turned out to be mainly sweet and coconut-y instead. The beef was stewed wonderfully though.

Beef Masman Curry from Tuk Tuk Thai, Calgary

beef masman curry

$4 Appetizers

The chicken spring rolls, came in a package of 2, were light and crispy, deep-fried to golden perfection! The sweet chili sauce completed these rolls and brought a flood of sweet memories for me ?

Chicken spring rolls from Tuk Tuk Thai, Calgary

chicken spring rolls (vegetarian option also available)

Refrigerated Items

On my second visit there, I grabbed a small container of green papaya salad ($6) to go (sorry I forgot to take a photo ?). If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I’m a green papaya salad fanatic – always looking for the perfectly authentic som tam (‘green papaya salad’ in Thai). I was a little disappointed at Tuk Tuk Thai’s green papaya salad. A LOT were missing – there’s no dried shrimp, no plum sugar, and most importantly, the ingredients were not pounded at all to bring out all the flavors (instead all ingredients were packaged separately). All I could taste was the lime juice.

All in all, I found the thai dishes at Tuk Tuk Thai have been toned down considerably and modified to suit the western palates. I understand that the owner’s desire to introduce inexpensive, classic Thai food to the people in Calgary – and I gave him credit for that. But that doesn’t mean authentic flavours should be sacrificed.

Tuk Tuk Thai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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4 Comments Leave a Comment »

  1. Hi Cat, beautiful blog. I had the same issue regarding a lack of chili on my first visit to Tuk Tuk back in the summer and it irked me enough to do something I almost never do, which was to post a negative review to Yelp. I was contacted by owner Sam who said precisely what you guess in the last line here- “suit Western palates.” I found this insulting and even ignorant- many thousands of people in Calgary of all races have been to Thailand and though I haven’t, I still consider myself a student of the cuisine and make pretty mean kra pow for a white guy. Anyway he suggested I order it extra spicy (which I’d actually done the first time) and let me know that they had a new chef who had previously worked at a couple of my fave Thai places. This did the trick- every time I’ve asked for extra spicy, I get SPICY. I hope you give them another chance because when they’re hot, they’re hot! You also have to love any Asian resto in Calgary that DOESN’T CHARGE EXTRA FOR RICE! Well maybe coconut, I don’t know, I always get plain Jasmine rice because my Thai friend tells me that coconut rice is just for tourists 🙂

    • Hi John! Thank you for dropping by and giving me the tip 🙂 I’m glad that someone agree with what I experienced at Tuk Tuk Thai. Next time when we go back, I will definitely ask for spicy and see if that fixes the problem 🙂 I know what you mean by Calgary restaurants asking its guests to pay extra for “rice,” sometimes even for “water – I was appalled to find that out when I first moved here. Hope to see you around and maybe someday experience your Asian cooking!

  2. Hi Cat.sam here from Tuk Tuk Thai.Thanks for comings! Very nice blog, have to agree with most of your point of view there.Just a few things, if i may, would like to say.We can cook as authentic as it can be and more, and we’re willing to accommodate every customers the best we can. But, for the majority of our customers , from our experiences and from the business side..etc! To survive, to keep the door open, we decided to do the way we thought it’s best for everyone, at least we hope to please the majority of customers! We do keep the authenticity each and every dish served at Tuk Tuk Thai, the spices, the flavors are all still there, only thing we have to be sensitive about is the heat(hot) level.We’ve tried to increase the heat(hot), but 90% of our customers couldn’t handle it!! For the Moo Moo Lemon, i can see from your pic, it does have grounded roasted rice( just more refine, less coarse than you’d like..sorry).As for the chili, we ‘ll be more than happy to make it ss hot as you’d like.As for the coconut rice(we don’t charge extra for the coconut rice, most Thai places charge $3:50 for one serving) we don’t make it too rich but you still can taste a coconut milk.As for the Massaman Beef, though influenced by Persian dish, but Thai is always more of..balance and subtle flavor, never be too strong or over power with spices! As for the Papaya Salad,there are many versions of Som Tam, we found most our customers don’t like the dry shrimps(hard to eat) and we don’t pound them, the reason they will lose their flavors when sit in the fridge more than 10 minutes!
    As for the Spring rolls, we’re glad you like them, thank you.Hope you’ll understand our intention.And hope you’ll give us another chance, and please don’t hesitate to ask for the heat(hot) next time you come.And this time are on us(please ask for me).
    Thank you very much.

    PS. Thank you very much, John, for your understanding and for giving us the second chance.. much appreciated!

    • Thank you so much, Sam, for taking the time to read my review and respond to every single one of my complaints. I agree that Calgary is not yet a very diverse city and thus making it very difficult on the restauranteurs who have the ambitions to create truly authentic dishes. I actually didn’t know that we can customize the hotness level on our dishes, until you pointed it out. Maybe putting that on the menu or asking the cashier to double check with the diners would be a good option? Just so that people are aware that option is available to them. Thanks for the offer and I will definitely go back and try it again. Hopefully this time be able to meet and chat with you about your charming restaurant. Thanks!

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