Late last year, my friend Anna of Anna’s Appetite, and I tried out Jackie’s Thai for the first time. Jackie’s Thai is located in the food court of Eau Claire Market and serves up authentic Thai fare. Jackie, the owner, spent years in Thailand cooking for students and teaching cooking classes. After reading rave reviews about it from this post on the local Chowhound board, I was really excited to try it. The menu at Jackie’s Thai rotates almost daily. You can check the menu on their website to see if your favorite dishes are available on a given day as they update it to reflect what’s being served.
On the first visit, Anna and I tried a regular order of the Chiang Mai Noodle Soup ($8.95 for regular; $6.50 for small). This tasty noodle soup (also known as “Northern Thai Noodles” or sometimes “Khao Soi” , “Kao soy” or “Kow soi”) consists of tender pieces of chicken, egg noodles (or vermicelli), coconut milk, garlic, ginger, lemon grass, palm sugar, cilantro, lime leaf, chili, ginza, onion, turmeric, and lemon juice. This noodle soup tastes AMAZING! I loved the rich and creamy coconut curry broth with the fragrant lemongrass. The noodle soup is garnished with cilantro, shallots, and pickled mustard greens. The flavours in the broth were so complex yet well-balanced. The chicken meat was tender and the noodles perfectly al dente. This was easily the best Thai dish I’ve had in Calgary to date. Since my initial visit, I’ve been back to Jackie’s Thai multiple times over the last few months. Since the menu rotates, this dish is not always available. If this dish is available when I go, it’s a no brainer for me as I will automatically order it. I’ve managed to have this noodle soup a couple more times over the past few months and each time it tastes just as good as I remember it.
The second dish we tried was a regular order of the Pad Thai Noodles with Prawns ($7.95 for regular; $5.50 for small). The Pad Thai with Prawns consisted of rice noodles, pork, garlic, tamarind, palm sugar, green veggies, and bean sprouts. This version with prawns along with a vegetarian version is a staple on Jackie’s menu and is always available. I can easily say this is one the best versions of Pad Thai I’ve had in Calgary. I like that the rice noodles are toothsome and not gummy. I’ll be very honest to say that pad thai used to be one of my least favourite dishes because I often had noodles that were mushy, gummy, and clumped together. It wasn’t until I had some “authentic” pad thai that I started really appreciating the dish and now I’m a huge fan of it.
The third item we tried was the Papaya Salad ($7.95 for regular; $5.50 for small), which consisted of shredded green papaya and carrots, chilies, long beans, tomatoes, tamarind, palm sugar, lemon, peanuts and fish sauce. The Papaya Salad is prepared fresh to order and you can specify how spicy you would like it. We requested for “medium” heat and it had quick a spicy kick to it.
I was so impressed with the food we had on our initial visit that I brought my coworker to try it a couple of days later. On this occasion, the Chiang Mai Noodle Soup wasn’t available so we decided to try some of the curries. My coworker and I decided to get the Dinner for 2 Special ($19.95), which consists of a choice of four of the curries or stir fry dishes from the steam table along with 2 plates of rice. The four we chose were Thai Green Curry with Chicken (top), Thai Basil Chicken (right), Spirits in the Garden (bottom), and Beef Penang (left). The Thai Green Curry with Chicken consisted of a coconut curry with bamboo shoots, chicken, cilantro and Kaffir lime leaves. This was actually one of my favorites out of the four that we tasted. The flavours were really bright and the chicken was tender. The Thai Basil Chicken consisted of hot Thai basil, garlic, onion, carrots, oyster and soy sauce, and red chili peppers. The Spirits in the Garden consisted of red curry, chicken, spinach, yam, peanuts, coconut milk, garlic, palm sugar, turmeric, lime leaf, and lemon. I was a little apprehensive at trying this Spirits in the Garden initially because I wasn’t sure if the yam would make the dish too sweet. To my pleasant surprise, this dish was really tasty and the combination of flavours was really unique. I’m sure glad I tried it because it turned out to be my other favourite out of the four. The Beef Penang is a slightly sweet coconut curry made of coconut milk, palm sugar, Penang curry, garlic, tamarind, Kaffir lime leaves, peanuts, and red peppers.
Jackie’s Thai is truly a hidden gem. This is not your typical food court fare. Jackie’s food is on par, if not better, than many of the sit down Thai restaurants in town. The flavours are the real deal and all the items are very reasonably priced. There is not an item that is above $10. It’s basically restaurant quality food at food court prices. Out of all the items I’ve tried, by far, my favourite is the Chiang Mai Noodle Soup with the Pad Thai Noodles with Prawns being a close second. Jackie’s Thai is open daily from 11am to 6pm. One thing to note is that parking in the underground parkade at Eau Claire is $2 flat rate on weekends and after 5pm on weekday evenings so that’s probably your best bet instead of street parking.
Eau Claire Market Food Court
#181, 200 Barclay Parade SW