Every name has a meaning. Whether blatantly obvious or puzzlingly obscure, a name is at once a descriptor, an honorific, a term of endearment, and a phylogenetic marker. These interrelated terms colour every name, be that of a person, place or thing. For Lan's Asian Grill, the name Lan refers to the restaurant's matriarch. It honours the owners' mother, references their family heritage, and rightly acknowledges the indelible and positive influence their mother has had on their lives, not to mention their culinary skills. The name, in this writer's eyes, is also directly synonymous with supremely fresh and delectable Thai victuals.
Lan's Pad Thai is easily Edmonton's best. A tender tangle of noodles luxuriates with crisp bean sprouts, crisp peanuts, velvety tofu and cloud-like shreds of egg. The spice level may be customized and meat may be added if you're in the mood. A serenade of cilantro, fish sauce, chilies and lime whispers through each bite with the even-handed subtlety I've come to expect at Lan's.
Spicy Tofu presents the eponymous bean curd in a manner most delightful. Pillowy (and never rubbery) rectangles of tofu are generously but not excessively bathed in a firey chili sauce. Rice and shredded carrots tame the fire and toasted sesame seeds add crunch. A pair of piping-hot spring rolls are along for the ride and are agreeable dinner companions.
Lan taught her children well. A great air of serenity welcomes all who enter and the quality of food leaves me happy and well-fed. Would this place have the same cache under a different name? Perhaps. But one need not ponder that point too deeply. The multiple meanings of honour, bloodlines and good food are perfectly encapsulated in Lan's name.