GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan – Erb Thai has been riding the wave of popularity for Thai cuisine in western Michigan. Integrated in the district centered around Wealthy Street and Diamond Avenue SE, Erb Thai is aimed at both a clientele who walks there and those who take the trouble to get there by car.
“We serve a growing region that meets the local needs of Grand Rapids,” says owner Lisa Chang. “It will be 11 years next month.
Uptown Village was not always busy. “At first we felt a bit lonely, but eventually more and more neighbors came to join us,” Chang recalls. “You can definitely tell and see the huge changes since our inception. “
Erb Thai has also seen his changes. For five years, Chang’s brother ran another location on Lake Michigan Drive, but this one closed when he started a family. Chang’s parents ran a store on Michigan Street NE, but then retired and that place closed. Chang is therefore back solo to his original location.
As a restaurateur, Chang’s roots go back to Southeast Asia. She and her siblings were all born and raised in the United States. It was his parents who immigrated to the United States from their Hmong roots. “Laos, and Thailand, and, Cambodia, Vietnam, the cuisines are very similar in a way,” she explains, recalling how she came to love Thai food. “I myself, in particular, grew up watching Thai dramas with my mother. “
We’re open: Erb Thai in Uptown Village
She discovered the neighborhood while studying culinary arts at Grand Rapids Community College, known for its culinary school. She “fell in love with this area as a student myself and finally saw this place and decided to open Erb Thai”.
So. What is popular?
“Our number one dish here is called a peanut curry noodle. It is basically a dish of stir-fried rice noodles with broccoli, green beans, carrots, eggs, and bean sprouts. And it’s sautéed with a creamy peanut curry sauce. And so you get a mixture of sweet, salty, milky. And then if you like spices, there is also a little spice in it. And you can even spice it up even more. So a lot of people like it. It’s a customer favorite.
Dishes like this and pad thai have apparently been big draws for Thai food lovers during the pandemic. “When we had the first start, the pandemic wave, it was pretty scary,” Chang recalls. “It was shocking for all of us to want to leave our homes… Not only do you see a bit of a ghost town feeling about everything, when you go out alone with the restaurant, it was like that, too. But it didn’t last – our customers are so great that even with a pandemic they were always ready to support us. “
Erb Thai, 950 Wealthy Street South East, Grand Rapids 616-356-2573
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