Having worked at the Gateway mall for almost the past 10 years, i’ve had the opportunity to eat and every one of the food offerings there from the food court to the restaurants. There are a few solid choices if you are there for dinner and a movie or if you are going to a Jazz game. However, if you want to go where all the truly exceptional places are, you need to go down just north of Pioneer Park which is a two block walk from the Gateway. Within a few hundred yard radius, there are five food standouts that easily beat anything the Gateway has to offer. I’ve already reviewed Bruges Waffles and Frites which is right next door to Ekamai, and most of Salt Lake is familiar with those delicious waffles, but right next door is another equally impressive restaurant and also the exact same size as Bruges. I’m referring to Ekamai Thai Curry, which provides some of the highest quality and best tasting curry in the state of Utah.
I strolled on over to Ekamai for my inaugural visit last Saturday afternoon. It was a beautiful day and I was excited to try Ekamai for the first time. Upon my previous visit to Bruges, my friend and I stopped into Ekamai to see what sort of food they sold and also to take a look at the menu. The staff that day was awesome. They were very friendly and informative and made sure we had an opportunity to sample several of their curries. Everything I sampled was awesome, so I made good on my promise and chose Ekamai for a quick bite to eat.
I decided that since it was my first time, I was going to go with a two-item combo as to get as many different flavors and tastes as possible. I stepped in and ordered the Mussamun Curry Beef along with the Yellow Curry Chicken. The plate came with two big scoops of white rice, although I did have the option of choosing brown rice. Also it included a spring roll and a sweet dipping sauce.
I sat outside to eat my meal, and I was quickly joined by the owner of Ekamai whose name is Woot. (I hope I spelled that correctly) It’s not everyday where you go to have lunch somewhere and the owner of the establishment comes and actually breaks bread with you. Woot gave me some valuable insight on his Thai food. Woot and his wife have been making curry at this location for the past several years and have been nominated for several awards as well as receiving many fine reviews from the food blog and newspaper community. Woot explained that when it comes to making Thai food, there are lots of opportunities to cut corners and save money while sacrificing quality, but he doesn’t do that. He only uses the finest ingredients when preparing the food. One example is the Mussamum Curry Beef dish which Woot uses fresh tri tip steak along with coconut milk, potato, carrot, onion, and peanuts. Woot explained to me that by using the tri tip steak, his meat has the perfect tenderness and flavor to be used in a curry dish. I was really impressed with Ekamai’s food. I don’t get a chance to eat curry very often, but this stuff was sooooo good, I’m going to have to start coming here more often.
Another thing I want to point out to you, and hopefully my picture does the rice justice, but look at how tasty the rice is and how it is not clumpy and bland looking. My Colombian wife makes rice really good so I always appreciate well made rice. What I loved about this dish is after finishing off my chicken and beef, I still had plenty of curry sauce left over to dunk my rice in. I love dunking a fork full of rice into an exotic sauce of some sort. Few things are quite like it.
If you are a soccer fan, you can also find Woot and his dishes at Rio Tinto stadium. Woot’s stand and curry can be found on the North East corner of the stadium in front of the team store. I’ll be sure to check it out myself next time I make it to a game. I do have to say I really enjoyed this curry. I felt like I got plenty of food for the $8 dollar price tag, plus the food was delicious, I would have paid even more money based on the flavor alone! One thing on the menu that I want to try but did not get the opportunity would be the Drunken Noodles. I invite you to peruse Ekamai’s website. The menu changes on a daily basis although they do offer their staple choices every day.
Don’t be shy about stopping in here, and remember the next time you are at the Gateway on a sunny afternoon, or perhaps you arrive downtown a few hours early for a Jazz game, or even if you are coming Saturday morning for Farmer’s Market, be sure to visit 300 South just north of Pioneer Park. There are many treasures to be found here and Ekamai is one of them!