You dont have to go far to find exotic food in Salt Lake City – no passports or jet lag required. The scent of curry, the taste of tamarind, and foreign menu phrases are enough to transport you to faraway lands while allowing you to be home in time the eleven o’clock news.
Saffron Valley East India Café on “E” Street in Salt Lake’s Avenues neighborhood, is known for its award- winning menu of home-style and authentic street foods of all regions of India. Named “Best Indian Restaurant” and “Best of State” for consecutive years, Saffron Valley celebrates the Old India of the 1920’s with its mix of vintage décor and classic cuisine. Come for the popular lunch buffet, or choose from traditional menu items like crisp Samosas filled with spiced potato and peas; savory Dosas — lentil and rice crêpes with an assortment of fillings; and tasty Biryanis and Curries. With a nod to British colonialism, afternoon High Tea is available by reservation. For those wishing to re-create their favorite Indian specialties at home, patrons can purchase the “East Indian Pantry” line of authentic spice blends, or sign up for Indian culinary classes that introduce groups of eight or more to the joys of creating dishes like Tandoori Chicken
Royale with mint and coriander chutney, or Spiced Crab Cakes with rice pilaf.
J. Wong’s Asian Bistro, winner of the 2012 Best of State award and repeated awards for Best Restaurant from 2011- 2015, is a great choice for lunch or dinner, especially if you’re attending an event at the Vivint Smart Home Arena. Owner Jordan Wong’s mother is Thai and his father is Chinese, so the menu is a combination of classic favorites from both cultures. Dishes that you might not see elsewhere include the Hong Jue Scallops — flash fried scallops topped with bacon, ginger, bell peppers, and onions in a black bean soy reduction. Other crowd favorites include: Red Curry Duck Breast, a fragrant blend of peppers, pineapples, cherry tomatoes and basil with red coconut curry; and Thai Sweet Chili Red Snapper, a crispy whole Red Snapper served in sweet Thai chili sauce. Choose from appetizers, generously sized “small plates” and entrees. For dessert, try Tempura Bananas or Mango Sticky rice.
For lovers of sushi and Vietnamese cuisine, try Sapa Sushi Bar & Asian Grill at 722 South State Street. Named after a small market town in northern Vietnam bordered by the Himalayas, China and Laos, Sapa Grill fuses Vietnamese, Thai, and Japanese cuisines. Rimming the courtyard are three ancient, hand-carved houses imported from Vietnam and reassembled here in Salt Lake City. The lively red interior is a perfect backdrop for gathering with friends to enjoy fresh sushi and house specialties like Peking Duck Sliders, Massaman Beef Curry, Drunken Noodles and Pork Dumplings.
For a truly exotic meal, head to The Blue Nile for traditional Ethiopian cuisine. Celebrating the bonds of loyalty, friendship and the ritual of breaking bread together, various stews and side dishes are served on a large crepe-like pancake called “Injera.” A good starter is the Yemisir Sambusa, an appetizer similar to Indian Samosas, made of hand-wrapped thin pastry shells filled with a blend of brown lentils, onions, scallions, peppers and herbs. Diners all eat from the same plate with their fingers, using smaller portions of the Injera to scoop up fragrant fresh red beets and carrots, or “Kay Wot,” finely chopped prime beef sautéed in Ethiopian clarified butter and simmered in spicy sauce.
So, if you’re craving international eats from all corners of the globe, you can probably find it in Salt Lake City.
J. Wong’s Asian Bistro
163 West 200 South
Salt Lake City, UT
Saffron Valley Indian Café
26 “E” Street
Salt Lake City, UT
722 South State Street
Salt Lake City, UT
The Blue Nile Ethiopian Café
755 South State Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84111