With tourism to Southeast Asian countries growing rapidly over the past couple decades, there shouldn't be any doubt that there's a hefty market for their culinary plates back here in North America. The Southeast Asian food scene is quite firm here in the nation's capital, with a long history of a Vietnamese food scene and Thai food.
Even other lesser-travelled SEA countries, such as The Phillipines and Burma, have made their foodie influence right here in Ottawa. While you won't be able to find all SEA food here (rest in peace, Singapore Restaurant), there's enough diversity to satisfy everybody's needs.
Here's 7 Ottawa restaurants that will make you feel like you're in Southeast Asia:
Tamis Cafe // Philippines
Just a little bit than a year old, this much-needed Filipino restaurant has brought genuinely authentic plates from one of my favourite Southeast Asian countries. If you're looking for authentic Filipino food in Ottawa, this place is unchallenged. Whether you're looking for a sweet halo-halo, some delicious porkchops or tender beef with a fried egg on top, this restaurant feels like you're in a Filipino family's kitchen.
Chahaya Malaysia // Malaysia/Indonesia
For Malaysian, and even some Indonesian fare, Chahaya on Montreal Road is the ideal place to go with its more-than-generous portions and their in-house springrolls. Their staff will always cater to new diners (especially when it comes to spice levels) and there is a terrific lunch buffet for those wanting to experiment. Forwarned: just because an item is low on their spice scale doesn't necessarily mean it's not spicy.
Pho Thu Do // Vietnam
Unlike some other Southeast Asian countries, there's plenty of genuine selection when it comes to finding Vietnamese food in Ottawa. Partly because of the influx of Vietnamese immigrants during and after the Vietnam War, a strong community was built right up here in Canada's capital and you can find plenty of Vietnamese around Somerset. However, we chose Pho Thu Do for its widespread local acclaim. They notably close pretty early on weekends, but Pho Thu Do is known for its quick service, stellar broth and beef variations for their pho. The pho here rarely disappoints - although the selection is simple - but if you're looking for springrolls, head to Pho Bo Ga.
Siam Bistro // Thailand
Incredibly generous portions of Thai food are presented here, crafted by Thai chefs who deliver fresh and flavourful dishes from the increasingly popular Southeast Asian country. The noodle dishes are the star here, with the usual fare of pad thai and tang tak noodles.
Rangoon Restaurant // Burma
An unassuming locale that is simultaneously a hidden gem. Being the only Burmese restaurant in Ottawa, it stands up pretty well on its own and isn't lacking in comparison to other Southeast Asian restaurants in the city. Although I'm not a big fan of tofu myself, their housemade tofu is a pretty popular appetizer, along with their vegetable spring rolls. Compared to other restaurants in the area, the menu items are fairly original - the coconut noodle soup especially. But, if you're looking for an atypical Southeast Asian restaurant to try, Rangoon will satisfy.
Prasat Thai // Thailand/Cambodia
An Asian fusion restaurant that serves mainly Thai but also Cambodian fare - the latter lacking in Ottawa. Cambodian traditionals that you'll find on the menu include curried chicken and Cambodian chicken with citronella.
Thai Flame // Thailand/Laos
Largely Thai cuisine but owned by a Laotian family, you can find some delicious curries, stir fry and, of course, amazing pad Thai - all served with sticky Jasmine rice. The mango sticky rice is the absolute perfect dessert. The place is off the radar somewhat, located in a strip mall on Bells Corners, but never let the exterior fool you. This is a popular west end location, largely due to the hospitality of the hosts who are always more than welcome to help newbies at the table.