Day 329: Erb Thai

Day 329: Erb Thai
The Awesome Mitten - Erb Thai
Photo courtesy of Tanner Presswood

It is Friday night. You and your buddies are craving some tasty grub, but your best friend is a vegan, her boyfriend is gluten-intolerant, and you are a steadfast meat lover. What do you do now? Here is the answer: You go to Erb Thai in Grand Rapids!

Established in 2010, this gem of a restaurant, which is situated right on the corner of Wealthy St. and Diamond, in Eastown, is owned by Lisa Her, and operated with the help of her parents. The combination of the experience and knowledge of the two generations really sets this restaurant apart. Pair Her’s innovative, dietary-need-friendly recipes with her parents’ traditional Thai styles, and it is no wonder the food turns out so well!

“I noticed more and more special dietary needs have become more popular and people are voicing out about it,” Her comments, “so I asked myself, can we do this?”

Spoiler Alert: Yes they can! Her says it took a little while to convince her parents, but thankfully they conceded. Her has created a menu suited for all kinds of folks. Not only is the food customizable for vegans and vegetarians (many dishes come with rice or rice noodles, and the choice of vegetables, tofu, chicken, pork, and shrimp are available) but diners can also decide their own spice level. Thai food is known for its heat, and Erb Thai serves up its fresh hot peppers in increments. You can choose Mild, which offers no heat; Mild Plus, half-teaspoon; Medium, one teaspoon; Medium Plus, one tablespoon; Hot, two tablespoons; and Erb Thai Hot, a whopping three tablespoons of hot peppers added into your food.

The Awesome Mitten - Erb Thai
Photo courtesy of Tanner Pressword

“We are willing to tweak this, change that and make adjustments to fit everyone’s needs. Not just one group of people!”

When you visit Erb Thai (Not if–let’s face it, you have spent the last two paragraphs making plans), I highly recommend beginning with a luscious, creamy Thai Iced Tea (or Thai Iced Coffee, if you swing that way). As you savor the sweetness, your first course is delivered to your table. Little bundles of spring-like goodness, or otherwise known as the ever popular Fresh Rolls, combine cool flavors of cilantro with the sweet heat of the dipping sauce they are served with. As the tastes meld in your mouth you can’t help but smile at your lunch (or dinner) company. And that is just the beginning! Erb Thai offers many pleasantly filling and excitingly flavored dishes. I particularly recommend the Peanut Curry Noodle: It’s a creamy, sweet, and savory noodle dish. Amazing!

In speaking with her, Her’s love for the business becomes readily apparent. She clearly cares deeply about her customers and her food. She describes her food philosophies so eloquently that it is impossible not to find her passion and excitement infectious. I found that her explanation of the restaurant’s name, which came into discussion through talking about the complicated genius that is behind the flavors in Erb Thai’s curry, pretty much sums up Her’s feelings about her edible art.

The Awesome Mitten - Erb Thai
Photo courtesy of Tanner Presswood

“Erb Thai was based on the beauty of all different (h)erbs that can be combined and blended into making something that tastes so fantastic.”

So next time you find yourself in a quandary over where to satiate your munchies, the answer is simple: Head to Erb Thai in Grand Rapids, and experience the food that comes from two generations of food lovers. There will be something that jumps out to everyone on the menu.

Also, make sure to follow Erb Thai on Facebook for updates on their monthly specials!
Jessie Elliott, Feature Writer

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The Awesome Mitten was born when I moved back to Michigan from Nashville, TN in September 2010. Almost immediately, I became frustrated. I couldn’t figure out why there weren’t more Michigan residents singing our states praises! I was so irritated, I wrote a Letter to the Editor. Three weeks later, I had started a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and a landing page for the website, determined to do something to make Michigan residents aware of all the cool things going on in their own state. Email me: alex@awesomemitten.com